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Changing Carl’s Life
28 Oct 2021

A few weeks ago we shared Carl’s story. Carl is a police officer who has been through a lot – surgery, a life-changing illness, a marriage breakdown, and bereavement. His life as he knew it changed – he lost his family, his mental and physical health, and his identity.

He attended a Level 1 Climbing Out programme and it made a positive change in his life, giving him newfound motivation. 

We invited him to be part of this year’s Level 2 trip – taking on the Welsh 3000s.

After the programme he sent us these powerful words that remind us the difference Climbing Out can make…

Carl:

 

Key learning from the week

Even now I am still realising the things I learnt. I imagine I will do for some time.

I am not the person I had come to believe I was. People who care for me have told me many times that I should not push it, not with my heart, despite the doctors giving me the thumbs up.

I had come to believe I was capable of less.

The week pushed me well past my own perceived limits, and that was an unbelievable, and very emotional feeling.

Standing at the bottom of Y Garn, looking up at the Devil’s Kitchen, Rusty pointed out the route we would take. I admit I thought he was joking at first, it didn’t look possible, but he was being serious, and we did it.

Getting to the top had me holding in tears of happiness and pride. This was a pattern that repeated itself with every achievement. I found elements of my old self, elements I had lost such as self-confidence and motivation.

The power of teamwork and mutual support can never be underestimated, and had I been on my own I would have turned around and headed back many times.

The support of everyone there helped me to keep putting one foot in front of another and get up those hills, even if I was considerably slower than everyone else. It also helped me to feel enthusiastic in the mornings when I was in agony and could easily have taken some pain relief and headed to bed or moped around. I wanted to get out there with everyone else. 

One thing that I may not make a big deal out of, but was extremely important, was the arrival and meeting with a new group of people. I now know that I am safe without my support network around me and when in a new situation out of my comfort zone. 

The Covid lockdown came along at the same point I was at my lowest and enabled me to hide away from the world. Trying to re-establish myself has been tough, and I still have a way to go, but being away for the week has shown me that I am stronger than I thought.

   

Anything I would do differently if I did it again

I’m not sure I would do anything differently, I gained so much that I do not think I would want to change anything.

    

Most proud of

There were many proud moments, but undoubtedly the most significant was getting to the top of Y Garn on the first day. It changed the way I think about myself from “Well, maybe I could, under different circumstances” to “I can”.

    

Moving forwards

I truly have found some motivation and self-confidence.

I had a bit of a slow start as I picked up a niggling injury the day after I got home from sleeping in a funny position back in my own bed, but now I’m back to it.

My training had become neglected but returning home I got straight back to a training plan which I’m giving 100% to in order to get over that finish line at Ironman Switzerland next year.

I’ve lost over half a stone since my return as my physical activity and eating is better. I gained so much from watching my heart rates during the week that I am no longer anxious as my heart rate increases. Obviously, I am staying within safe levels, and I’m pacing myself so not to trigger my Ankylosing Spondylitis into a flare up, but I’m already seeing progress. I’ve got some other shorter races in my sights for next year to help prepare for IM, but I’m generally trying to be more active.

It’s hard to find the words to explain how grateful that I was able to attend.

I have gained so much that even the therapist in my MH sessions has seen a positive difference.

It’s not just the pushing of my own limits either; seeing you and the others thriving despite what you were all dealing with reminded me that it’s not just me in this little bubble of life and everyone faces hard times at some point. It’s easy to forget this when you get caught up in a hole of depression and become withdrawn from other people.

The week has honestly been life-changing for the better. Thank you so much.

  

Thank you for sharing this Carl!