Yes. I am aware. We are becoming a climbing blog which is dangerous because I have v few decent bouldering pictures left and 0 rope pictures so stock pictures it is until I get new ones taken!
Anywho. This is highly related to mental health, chronic illness and why I boulder. For people who have followed me for a while you will know that when I climbed competitively I had anorexia. As I competed regionally, these were top rope competitions. I was a top rope climber and I did a little lead which I fell in love with instantly and need to relearn and find people to do so with.
Back in the day, climbing got very tied up with my eating disorder. How tight was my harness? Had I gained weight? Heck does my harness still fit me? People with eating disorders are also often perfectionists, very competitive and have to be the best. And here comes my I used to measure myself by a climbing grade.
But I used to beat myself up if I couldn’t do x climb as well as y. I literally pushed myself through beyond excruciating collar bone pain, two weeks after my injury to get up a relatively easy overhang climb because my partner did it easily and I didn’t want to show weakness. I then even lied to my climbing instructor about the pain because I didn’t want to show weakness.
Now climbing with multiple chronic pain conditions – yes I do push myself through excruciating pain. Yes I have partially dislocated hips, toes and shoulders on the wall. But that’s now. Now when I am also making an effort to be very self aware. And that’s okay.
But in 2014. It wasn’t and I recognise that now. A hobby shouldn’t turn into yet another facet of a severe mental illness. So I stopped competing and 2 years later ended up exclusively bouldering.
Bouldering – (although I was still way more obsessed with that number than I should have been, meaning I didn’t practice my weaknesses) was a way to escape from that connection. It also took away the harness. Bouldering allowed me to love the sport again and find myself. Through bouldering I found my freedom. I never thought I’d see myself as a boulderer. I still often catch myself resending a problem and realising I’m climbing like a top roper. But bouldering gave me that freedom when I needed it the most. Strangely I find bouldering a lot more social too!
So now here I am. More in love with the sport than I have been since I was 15/16 and anorexic. And I want to get back on that rope. If I can fund it. It is also an integral part of at least one of my 2020 climbing goals and maybe a 2nd new goal since realising how much I miss competing.
But I have 2 fears. One is mental health related. Will getting back on a rope suddenly make it feel more serious again and make me take it too seriously and will I as a result, fall out of love. Am I in a place where I will take each day as it comes and not obsess about getting that grade? I think I am. But what if I’m not.
The second is physical health related. Do I have the endurance? What will the payback be like? Now of course I recognise top roping will be easier on my joints than bouldering as no high impact falls or jumps. But what about my ME?
Now of course I don’t know unless I try. And yeah maybe it will be a waste of £9. Maybe the payback will be more than I can hack. Maybe I can’t even top the wall on the easiest of routes. Or maybe it will feel even more like coming home than getting back into the sport 6 weeks ago did.
There’s no way of knowing until I try. So even if I have to diarise it. I will take that leap. And I dare everyone reading this to take a leap too. With anything that has been scaring them but they also know, in their heads and they’re hearts that it’s what they want.