Let’s Talk About Mental Health
Mental health is a subject many of us find difficult to talk openly about, even those of us who feel we are open-minded to the problems of others, or have experienced mental health issues ourselves. We are incredibly grateful to Fibie, a member of the Urban Uprising community, for sharing her candid account of surviving depression and a suicide attempt, and finding hope through climbing.
“At the time I started climbing, I was in a bit of a mess. I had tried to kill myself via a fairly serious method - jumping out of a top floor tenement (around 50-60 feet because those places have high ceilings).
Now for a bit of Game of Thrones: "What do we say to the God of Death? NOT TODAY!" And that was the case. I was destined to live despite the odds. But it involved a month in a coma, frequently slipping between life and death, followed by months in hospital and excruciating surgery to rebuild the lower half of my body.
Although I had been surgically repaired, my walking was shaky, with lots of falls, I was (and still am) on tons of medication, and in a lot of pain. No one had really stressed physical rehab after I left the hospital, but my boyfriend (now nearly husband, but the wedding was cancelled due to lockdown!) suggested I climb as I had upper body strength. So, I climbed. Not every time he asked - I was in too much pain. But I climbed when I could, using only my upper body as my legs didn't work well. There were times when I couldn't walk to a bus stop but could still drag myself up a few holds. Gradually it helped my recovery.
Fast forward 10 years, I have 2 healthy kids, and a fledgling tree climbing and rock climbing business. I am still physically in pain and on medication and there's rarely ever “totally brilliant” but just a mixture of “good” and “bad”. And I continue to climb. And breathe. And exist through lots of bad days.”
Fibie spent time talking to our volunteers and young people about techniques to improve mental health, and here are a few which the group agreed were important:
Find a hobby or passion. Focusing on that can help you out of depression;
Expose yourself to lots of activities to try find the right hobby / passion for you;
Keep hold of your moral code, however low you sink. Try to hold onto your self-respect by not doing things you, or those who love you, would be ashamed of.
If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by mental health issues, the Mental Health Foundation offers lots of practical advice and useful resources for seeking help.