Life can be simple when you're locked away in your mind and some other altered state of reality. The mental illness absolves you from all responsibility. You can be excused for not answering the phone, you can avoid human interaction without being judged as ignorant, even work can be avoided in all manners of ways and all you need to do is slip back into that comfort zone of oblivion. Tempting?
So what's wrong with me this time? To the outside world I'm going on climbing adventures and living the dream. My Facebook page is littered with photo's and positive messages, even these blogs generally have a happy ending. Why would I want to quit climbing after devoting every spare hour over the last 18 months to my cause?
The problem is I feel like one of life fakers, I'm a serial quitter. When I was very young I played piano and keyboards and I was pretty good too ... I gave it up. I was an A grade student in my early years of school, being the fool I am I left school early before my exams and got a job on a building site. I wasn't happy working as a labourer either ... I think I did 2 weeks and gave up, it wasn't for me. At age 17 I started College in Manchester, this didn't go well either I only bothered to take 1 exam and gave up . In my early 20s I had 2 children and wanted to give up every day but even I have a conscience. A couple of years ago I started to write and eventually gave this up because I felt like I was only trying to massage my ego or I was depressing myself. Even today at 40 years old I still don't even have a proper job, I never managed to fully commit to steady employment. My work is sporadic, I live from one week to the next. Life seems to suit me this way.
Most days I feel that I can possibly hold on to climbing and succeed. I don't feel the compelling urge to throw it all away just yet (this is subject to change though). For some reason I just feel as though I can become a climber eventually, it's the only thing that has excited me for a long time. I don't mind the failure I don't feel any shame in fumbling about with my new gear. Even the danger seems fee-sable to me.Climbing is really frightening at times but cars are frightening and we all step foot into them every day. At least with climbing you entrust your life in your own ability and your confidence in the climbing gear. It has just occurred to me that trusting gear too much could possibly kill me but if I didn't trust the gear there would be no point climbing.
When will I actually be a climber? The more I think about it, the word "climber" becomes less important. I may never be a climber but I can always enjoy trying to climb. I just feel so comfortable with the thought of climbing I wonder if I'm a fake, an idiot who just fancies people looking at him like he's a hero or a dare devil. I'm too old, I'm overweight and I'm probably at an all time high for low self-esteem and general bad health. I've somehow talked myself into attempting to climb El Cap, I've convinced myself and the people around me that I can become a climber. I've created this monster who constantly throws images and comments on Facebook like some attention craving D list celebrity. I'm in contact with a few professional climbers and I have lots of climbers following my Climb Out Facebook page. This is all getting ridiculas, who am I trying to con? What am I doing? If I have any pride, humility or plain common sense I will not publish this blog and I will delete my virtual world forever. People won't notice, people won't care, only my climbing alter ego will be upset.
The problem is I don't want to let people down ... I don't want to let myself down and I do believe in this cause! I'm just the wrong person to be playing at it, I don't know anything about anything, well maybe a little on a decent Pork Pie (yes we can laugh even when depressed)!
I've made some good friends from my time in El Chorro. All of my new friends are an inspiration and are always willing to help me no end in this journey. One problem is that I just can't figure out why all these people are being so nice. I don't have any common ground in a social sense, normally our paths would never meet. I feel like a faker at times, I feel like a stalker, a hanger on, a groupie of sorts. I'm a semi-alcoholic, I smoke so many cigarettes that most days I can't breathe properly and I'm probably about as natural as a climber as a drunken dairy cow with 3 legs. Most people I've come across in the climbing community seem oblivious to all my failings and are really positive, far too flattering and far too kind. Maybe its just sympathy, maybe I push myself on people and they are too polite to resist., maybe most climbers just want to help other people climb.I can't honestly see any ulterior motive for people being so good to me. Maybe they see something I can't? Maybe I should have more belief in my self?
I can only apologise to my climbing buddies who may read this. It's a failure in my brain, not a failure in your good, honest, friendship!
I've been trying to train my body and I've been climbing as much as possible but at the moment it all feels so desperate and a lost cause. I wish I could commit to a full training regime and eat properly but I'm just not getting there. Every time I climb I tell myself to just face reality and give up gracefully but something always drags me back! I may find out I climbed a grade higher than I'd realised. I return to a route I've climbed and look in dis-belief when I realise I won the fight. Even when I lose the fight (which is pretty regular) the urge to win next time keeps me going. Maybe all my doubts are simply part of being a climber, maybe reluctantly baring my soul to the world will actually help someone somewhere, I'm certainly not comfortable with all the attention but I feel I'm doing this for all the right reasons. Maybe I just think too much!
I suppose if I want to use this virtual world to raise awareness for mental health then I must also write about the bad times I have. I would be a hypocrite to pretend everything was all sunshine and smiles since I started trying to climb.
Today is the day I will be quitting climbing ... I'm giving up ... it's never going to work ... tonight I'm going to drink cider and eat junk ... tomorrow I will probably regret this decision ... especially when I'm struggling to haul myself up a V0 boulder problem at 8:00am with my dog Neil for company!
Maybe I'm just having a bad day!
The original Climb Out ethos was always for people to witness a journey of depression and the constant battle. These blogs are not written with the intention of me seeking sympathy or encouragement, they are written so that people who are suffering may possibly make a connection with my fight and be confident and inspired enough to start a fight against depression of their own .
Please regard these words as rhetorical ramblings and not the actions of an attention craving lunatic! No positive comments are needed or expected. To be honest if anyone actually does read this and feels inspired to help ... the most honourable action would be to spare a minute for your friends in real life. The virtual world will take care of itself.