Note from Ed: The following piece is written by Vicky Bikkerstaffe who readers may remember from the excellent “A Mountain Journey Like no Other” . If you missed it go have a read first. The writing is honest and I hope everyone take some time to consider the messages included.
I’m sat on my sofa staring at a pair of expedition boots I bought a few weeks ago. They were bought for two planned expeditions – Mont Blanc and Island Peak. Yet now I have no hope of getting there. My mind is denying me these dreams, these goals.
My mind has taken away my love of the mountains
Me and my mind are in a deep black depression. I’m struggling to get out of bed so believing I’ll get to Kathmandu is impossible.
I have a total lack of interest in anything, I have no motivation to live. The depression I’m experiencing right now has taken me into its cocoon, holding me tightly in its arms and is squeezing the very life out of me. Daily tasks are being ignored, I spend a lot of time staring into space and I find communicating really difficult.
Any desire to be out on the hill has disappeared. I don’t want to put my boots on, I don’t want to climb, I no longer want to look though the pile of mountain books beside my bed and I’m simply unable to see myself at the top of a mountain again!
The cruellest acceptance I must face is that it is my own mind that’s making me feel like this. Depression does that to a person, it rips out the pleasure in a person’s life and leaves just blackness behind.
How does this feel…??
Can you imagine trying to climb El Cap with your legs tied together and your hands being continuously drenched in oil.
Can you imagine attempting Tower Ridge in perfect winter conditions but your ice axes and crampons are red hot.
This feeling of loss is heart breaking.
This bout of depression has been creeping up on me for a few months now. I’ve tried to keep it at bay, I really have. However, it did a ‘smash and grab’ move on me last week. It knocked down all my defences and left me with a real state of hopelessness which I acted up on.
The most I’ve done since last Thurs is make a move from my bed to spending my days on the sofa. I am receiving a daily visit from the mental health crisis team, they provide a focus, a reason to stay alive, a reason to get out of bed. These are tiny steps of progress.
Today I am thinking a wee bit clearer, and have realised that this all happened in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Week so that’s why I’ve decided to write this and share with you.
So, if you know anyone who is experiencing something remotely similar.
- Please don’t ignore them
- Please don’t judge their behaviour
- Please have patience with them
- Please be supportive even if you struggle to understand what is happening to them or you don’t understand their behaviour (really important).
- “I care about you”
- “You’re not alone”
- “I’m sorry that you’re in pain”
- “Do you want a hug?”
The littlest things will help….
- Make them a cuppa
- buy them a packet of their favourite biscuits
- do the washing up
- Just sit with them
Life, they say, is for living. So, when you’re able…Please live it to the fullest.
Mental health guru, Mountaineer (well I really hope I can carry on)