“Male suicides in England and wales were at their highest rate in two decades last year”
Men aged 45-49 accounted for the highest increase in suicide – Folks, let us all try our best to understand this, this is shocking to read.
Take a moment to check-in on your friends, write that message, send that text, make that call. Even the greatest, strongest warrior has his demons let us change these statistics.
I wrote this some time ago but feel it appropriate to share it especially this week.
The next breath
Perversely, on reflection of my challenges with mental health I find that the battle has equipped me well – Why? Let me tell you of that “Next breath”
In life I have created situations for which I have struggled, I have made decisions based on ego and selfishness above strength of character and the right path, which inevitably created a downward spiral to negativity and subsequent health problems. Sadly like an ever increasing number of young, fit, strong males mental health and negative thoughts took over my life and mental illness took hold.
Climbing at altitude and tackling challenging mountains takes a special someone, someone who is prepared to endure, endure pain and discomfort, endure loneliness and solitude, endure the monotony and boredom and that someone must be prepared to sacrifice everything to achieve that very selfish goal. Climbing K2 is awful, horrible and bloody scary but for some, K2 draws us in and takes over our lives to be the sole objective for everything, the reason to work the reason to earn the reason to stay fit and strong. K2 becomes an obsession.
At 05:00 in the morning on a cold rainy January K2 becomes the reason why we get up to train, we run we cycle, we swim.
On a sunny weekend in May, K2 becomes the reason why we work to earn money.
At 02:30 in the morning K2 is the reason why we don’t sleep.
K2 is the reason why we lose friends and fail at relationships.
But K2 can be the reason why we take that next step in life, why we take on challenges head on, why those little things are so insignificant and why we can be so driven.
At altitude, well above 6000m everything is pretty hard, eating, drinking, breathing and living becomes hard. So to choose to go back and put yourself in that position time after time after time seems really quite crazy to some but to us, to me this is just how it is.
When you are in the depths of mental illness you cannot see a way out, loved ones and friends can try to help, professionals can prescribe ways out but when you are in so deep nothing, nothing feels do-able. So you have to rely on the support of others, the professional training of others and the guidance of others to assure you that there is a way out, there is light at the end and you will make it. I did this, I did this by believing my friends and loved ones, I did this by taking one very small step each day for which started to get bigger and bigger and finally allowed me to breath again.
Mountaineering at altitude is no different, its hard and horrible but…….If you take one tiny, tiny step forward you can achieve so much, you focus on nothing else apart from that tiny step, that insignificant step forward, and sometimes a few steps back but, if you keep going and stay focused you can achieve your goals. At altitude when the very basic of human needs is challenged just taking another breath is all that you need to focus on, just one more breath, then maybe a couple more then, and then, and then.
If you feel you are struggling, try to remember this, nothing else matters but you taking that next breath, because everything that will matter and all of the positives in your life needs you to take that next breath…