Rich is a participant who has been on our core 5 day programme, and recently he attended a Level 2 follow on programme in Scotland. It was wonderful to receive his feedback and read his poem, so we wanted to share some of those words with you.
I have been thinking about last week lots since I left Scotland and my level 2 programme. Often when I do I start to well up and become emotional. This isn't through sadness or upset, but through a genuine feeling of what I can only describe as warmth, love and contentment.
As you know, I struggled with my demons as I had no safe space to be myself, I experienced difficulties at home along with difficulties at work, and the effect of this was that I lost all desire to do anything for myself. I was in the dark, feeling all alone and with no obvious way out. Climbing Out genuinely threw me a rope and helped me out of the darkness. You have all shown me that I am the person I remember and that despite my demons I can still do those things that I enjoy and that make me, me.
I found the motivation to get out more following my level 1 programme last year and despite it still being a work in progress, if I'm honest I did go to Scotland wondering what I would come away with, that I had not already come away with from my level 1 programme. Well, I was in for a surprise!
The level 2 programme was amazing, in so many different ways. The biggest way was that we were with other people who had all completed a level 1 programme, so who all knew what the Climbing Out ethos was all about and the difference that made was huge. We were all on the same page from day 1 and despite our different backstories we have formed into a really tight group of friends that are really supportive of each other and I know I can reach out to them in an instant if I need to. While I was away I realised that I had missed the camaraderie that I had when I was in the Army. I hadn't realised that this was such a big thing for me before but soon realised that Climbing Out provides me with the same sense of belonging and of being part of something wonderful. It genuinely makes me proud to be a part of the Climbing Out family.
I was also surprised by how I formed really strong connections with people that I would have perhaps avoided in the 'real world', people with different views and outlooks. I had become quite introverted with people I didn't know, partly due to my work, in order to put protective barriers up. I found these connections really refreshing and showed me that although I had already started trying to have a more positive experience with strangers, I needed to push myself further out of my comfort zone so I can continue to grow in this area.
It was also a really useful opportunity for reflection. As I said while we were away, reflection can sometimes be subjective. It can be easy to reflect upon 'easy' things but sometimes not so easy to reflect on the difficult questions and the programme pushed us to reflect on those questions. It reminded me that I needed to push myself more with regards to my own personal reflections, perhaps by posing difficult questions to myself, rather than just thinking back upon events.
Although our personal testimonies were difficult, I found them really useful as they allowed us the opportunity to talk about this in a safe space, without judgment and with others who knew exactly where we were coming from. The most useful part of this was the group feedback, it was positive, supportive and helped with my confidence and self-esteem. I think people took so much away from this that despite how difficult it was, it was a wholesome, positive experience and I believe it became the glue that bonded our group together.
The level 2 programme has reignited my motivation in a massive way. I am sat here typing this, itching to get back outside and am already planning days where I can get back into the great outdoors. The effect the level 2 has had on my motivation to get out there again is real and I genuinely feel happy again.
Words alone cannot express how much I think of you, Climbing Out and my fellow Climbing Outers. Climbing Out has such a positive impact on people's lives, you are genuinely saving people!
I have written this poem as a way to try and show this...
Darkness and light. A poem of survival.
I'd fallen hard, into the great dark abyss,
Something so wrong... I knew was amiss.
Experience of trauma over the longest of time,
No longer feeling happy, no longer feel fine.
Anxiety, depression, nightmares and stress,
The good times had gone, they happened much less.
My motivation had died. No desire. No drive.
Nothing to live for. No need to survive.
I had become lost, alone in the dark,
Knowing I needed something, some help, just a spark.
Something to trigger my urge to get out,
but everywhere I turned I felt I must shout,
for help and support that was so hard to find,
It was driving me crazy and out of my mind.
All of that changed when I met Climbing Out,
They changed my outlook and removed all the doubt.
A week in the Lakes and my life changed for good,
The Climbing Out ethos now runs through my blood.
Support and advice, new goals and direction,
Friendship and confidence, the outdoors and reflection.
It was like an epiphany moment where everything made sense!
The simplest of things that made me less tense.
To start to think of myself, what my life had become,
Positive changes, now time to have fun.
Climbing Out is the brightest of spotlights, all shining for me,
Guiding me forward, to where I must be.
To say they save lives is the truest of words,
For lots of similar testimonies I have recently heard.
I cannot express in words how I now feel,
About the positive changes, they are so very real,
And all thanks to this charity. They are angels to me!
They have removed all the darkness... and have set me free.