I’ve never been shy about the fact that I struggle with generalized anxiety disorder. At points in my life it was really bad and at other points, it was barely noticeable, but it’s been there and part of my existence for at least the last eight years.
When I wrote my 101 goals list at the beginning of 2015, I was still struggling with it daily, and when creating my goals list, I added quite a few things that I’d been struggling with for years. One of those things was my ability to push myself mentally when climbing. Especially climbing multi-pitch, or in laymen’s terms, really freakin’ high.
My #10 goal was to climb a four pitch route. Have I ever done this? Yes, but always on low angle climbs at very easy grades. But since I’ve done it before, why it is something so important to me? Well… because when I did it before I was always terrified. I couldn’t look down, I couldn’t relax. Even though I knew I was safe, that the gear was good, that I could go down at any point, I would still shake, cry, think about every little thing that could go wrong and ultimately, beg to go down somewhere between pitch 3 and 4. So, while I’d finished four pitch routes before, it was something that I struggled with on every single move.
That was until last weekend.
Christian and I went out to Clear Creek Canyon in Golden, Colorado to climb a four pitch route called Playin’ Hooky. Well technically you climb the first two pitches of Solid Gold, then Playin’ Hooky, but four pitches total. It goes at 5.9 and is roughly 390 feet. You can look at details by clicking here. I was pretty nervous, not because I was afraid something would go wrong but because I was afraid I was going to freak out again, like I’ve done every single time in the past. I was afraid that day was going to be just like the others, not one I enjoyed, but one that would go down in my history as another failed attempt. But I was wrong. I climbed it, all four pitches, and while I had a few moments when I was kind of scared, I was able to say “shut up brain” and it actually listened. I was able to relax at belays, looking around and breathing in the fresh air. I was able to swish away the bees while I belayed Christian. I was able to sit at the top, with a smile on my face, after enjoying the hardest multi-pitch climb I had ever successfully done, in height and difficulty. I was able to be truly proud of myself for accomplishing something I’d been trying to do for almost a decade. It was awesome.
So why was I able to do this? The honest truth is that it’s something I have very little control over and at the same time, all the control in the world. When I stopped eating corn, not only did my body return to mostly normal but my brain quieted down a lot. My memory is better, my thoughts are more positive and my anxiety, while still there, is kind of like a voice I’m hearing in the background, but not really listening too. Even as someone who has a degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition, and a really good understanding of how the body works, I’m still amazed by how much what you consume really does effect you. And to be 100% honest, I never in a million years thought eating corn would be whats been causing my anxiety for the last eight years.
Yay for completing goals, being healthier and for climbing four pitch routes!