Climbing out of depression: I have struggled with depression and suicide since I was 12. Throughout high school I thought I had it all figured out; I covered it up with designer clothes and makeup trying to hide the sadness and despair I was feeling underneath. I went to a very conservative private school and did everything I could do to fit in.
How To Do Climbing Out Of Depression, My Experience
I tried to fill the void with bible studies and religion with the belief that trusting God would take it all away. Unfortunately, no amount of materialistic obsession or religious involvement can fill the void of clinical depression. The only thing that can fix that internal struggle is finding yourself, surrounding yourself with a strong circle of support, and accepting your hardship.
Climbing And Enjoying The Sunshine
Thank you to today’s guest contributor, Tiffany, for graciously and openly sharing her story with us.
From there, I went to one of the most liberal colleges in the state of Washington. For a girl with a conservative background, this transition ended up being earth-shattering. Although I managed to paint my happy face and cover up my dark side with brightly colored designer bags, in reality, I was empty inside. I lost my world when I left for college. My boyfriend and I broke up, how I looked no longer mattered at this new school, and who I was underneath the makeup and threads were what mattered most. I didn’t know how to handle it, so I swung into the biggest fit of depression I had ever had.
Trying To Mask It All With A Smile And Some Makeup
I didn’t know what I was living for. I didn’t understand what life was all about. I didn’t feel a need to keep on living a life that I wasn’t proud of and that other people didn’t glorify. I didn’t want to live.
Then, one day, I found climbing. Climbing saved me.
I will never forget my first day on the rock. I probably looked ridiculous in my designer sweats and Juicy tank top. Several of my friends had become climbers recently and pressured me into it even though I had always identified as the non-athletic friend who hung in the background. I think they somehow knew how I was really feeling and chose to start me on this new journey. They had become my family, my support system, my rock, and my temporary therapists.
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The second I slipped into those painfully tight rental shoes something clicked. I could feel that void in my heart closing slightly as I continued to climb more and moreover the coming weeks. I quickly discovered that climbing is meditation in motion; it was an outlet for me to focus on something other than myself, to clear my mind of dark thoughts, and start to see how powerful and strong I could be, both physically and mentally. I was in tune with the wall, calculating every movement so precisely that it took my mind off everything and anything and brought me back to that moment.
To me, at that point, climbing, the culture, the lifestyle, and the people are what made life worth living again. It was through focusing on something bigger than I finally found myself.
Finding Focus And Confidence In Climbing
Every muscle was sore, every finger was raw, and my body was full of bruises and open wounds from my clumsy introduction to climbing but I just couldn’t stop. Climbing just made sense. I could see my progress, see my success, and find a community that accepted me regardless of who I was or what I looked like. I couldn’t get enough. The more I climbed, the better I felt about myself and my world. I accepted who I was and got past all the superficial crap.
Life was good again. As I have approached all of life’s hurdles I have always turned to climb as my life support. Whether that is as a distraction, a motivation, a method of meditation, or a need to feel successful, climbing has been my go-to problem solver.
My love for climbing opened the doors to a whole new world for me. I discovered hiking, backpacking, and another adventuring. Lately, on the days that I haven’t been able to get outside or hit the gym, I have changed my focus to another discovery: my love of creating. I have recently taken up jewelry making and painting as a means of self-expression. Everything I create focuses on my one true love for the outdoors with a big focus on my passion for climbing.
With every figure 8 knot I tie, whether that’s out of climbing rope, paracord, or wire, I feel a sweeping feeling of satisfaction. Filling my void with things of substance is what has kept me from going to that dark place I used to frequent so often.
Finding Fulfillment Through Climbing-Inspired Creation
Now I am happy, healthy, and loving life. I am dating an amazing climber and mountaineer who provides such great support for my ongoing, but less severe, battle with depression. I have a circle of friends who understands my clinical condition and supports me unconditionally. My family now understands my struggles. I have been living a balanced, healthy life that has encouraged personal growth and success. I have a fantastic job at REI that I am passionate about and find fulfilling. My Etsy shop is starting to take off. All of this is because of the first time I put on those awkward shoes and jumped on the wall.
Moral of the story: go find yourself, whether that is outside, in the gym, or sitting at your kitchen table fiddling with wire and a paintbrush. Go out and find yourself. Do what makes you happy.
And if you want to check out some of my work, it can be found at my Etsy shop UpperLeftLove. 10% of all revenue from UpperLeftLove goes to benefit The National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI is a great organization that provides services to those battling mental illnesses and the family and friends who support them.