Raquel | Sisu

Long story short – when I think back, I’ve had anxiety nearly all my life. Remembering my first palpitations from kindergarten where I was telling a classmate about my heart movement, I thought that it was normal for me (the ECGs never showed anything abnormal). Things got more emotional and edgy in my teen years but, through a lot of self discovery, studying and letting go, that’s gone too.

Nowadays, being a nurse in an intense role in a town that is not the one you have your social circle in is not great; being from overseas doesn’t make it any easier.

After a messy personal experience, I was on my own, with no escape routes; being consumed by an emotional stress I thought wasn’t mentally strong enough to overcome. Something clicked and my body demanded sport, something new that would distract me.

That’s how I found meetup, an event about climbing, and thought “Why not?”.

Meeting people (anyone) exhausts me, leaving me mentally and physically knackered, but somehow I thought that this could be ok for me “because you’ll have to climb at some point, not just talk”.

So there I went, not knowing anyone who was already there, determined to make the most of it whilst my head was telling me what it had been saying for the past 2 hours: “Why?!? WHAT’S THE NEED? Leave. Seriously? Positive there’s something more pleasant to do. Wanna exercise? Go cycling: no need to socialise. But I was already there.

The people at the climbing gym were so welcoming I couldn’t believe it. After my very first session of “up-up-up”, “climb half the wall and jump” and “just jump“s, I felt SO good and my mind was so calm I actually wanted to come back.

Three weeks in and my hands had some endearing little callouses, a few more weeks and my fingers were strong enough to try harder bouldering routes.

Climbing days are my favourite days of the week, when I leave my stressed-because-of-work + anxious-because-of-life self at home, when I proclaim to my housemates “I’m going climbing!” and leave with a broad smile.

When I hold the boulders it’s me and my fingers, my toes, my hips, my injured-after-a-fall ankle, my survival instinct and often the other climbers telling me I can do that route. There is no place for the outside world, for the past or the uncertain future. And we all groan and smile in the same language. We all are friends there.

Whilst I have been climbing less than a year I know I want to keep this in my life. I have met wonderful people who make life better, I have found things in myself which push me up-up-up, and I know that when things look dark the climbing gyms open nearly every day.



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