MK is preparing to take part in a wilderness canoeing expedition in North Wales for our Level 3 programme to continue her personal development with Climbing Out. After experiencing severe visual impairments since childhood and setting herself free from an extremely abusive relationship, Climbing Out has helped her to re-set her outlook on life.
MK has suffered with eye problems since childhood when she lived in Poland. She got by using a magnifying glass, but suffered severe headaches on a daily basis. No one could help her.
MK: “I have always struggled and felt different, but it didn’t stop me, at least not from doing the things I was allowed to do. Due to my health problems my parents weren’t very keen to allow me to attend social events or play sports. I was mainly focusing on schoolwork and then went to university to study what I’d always been passionate about – English.”
After graduating MK moved to England and found work in hospitality, which made her feel like she was finally living, but she struggled without her magnifying glass which she wasn’t allowed to use. She went to an opticians and after some basic tests was sent to A&E.
MK: “It turned out that I had suffered with severe glaucoma which had made my vision deteriorate since my early years and I was later diagnosed with a genetic condition which causes blindness and cannot be treated. This is a tricky combination as it makes glaucoma, which can normally be cured quite easily, really difficult to treat. I had 14 surgeries, which in the end enabled me to keep this little bit of vision I still have left.
“My vision has not been the only hurdle I came across on my journey. Being alone, in a new country, trying to work and make a living while undergoing quite time-consuming and draining treatment I guess I wasn’t in the most secure place in life or in the best position to stay safe and I ended up in an abusive ‘relationship’. I use quotation marks because that is not really the term I should be using here. I was trapped, locked in the house most of the time, humiliated and abused in every way to essentially repay my ‘debts’ to my abuser for being looked after.
“It took a while to get out and it wasn’t pretty, either the process or what happened next. I was by then registered blind, on the edge of homelessness and subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. It seemed like there was no way forward for me, it felt like my life was in a million pieces and I wouldn’t have known how to start putting them back together.
“Luckily, I met some wonderful people whom I can only describe as angels on my journey and one of them was Kelda, who runs the charity Climbing Out. I was invited to take part in the five-day programme in 2018 and, with some reservations, as I was not used to be around people or generally being outside much, made my way to Peak District. It was a wonderful experience and I felt alive for the first time in many years. I felt accepted and understood. I have rediscovered my strength, overcome challenges and most importantly, made friends.
“It did not end with the five-day programme though. Since then it seems like every time I was about to give up on myself the amazing Climbing Out family has been there to kick my bum and tell me to keep going. I have since attended a few socials and completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge and it is safe to say thanks to this amazing charity I managed to start reclaiming my positivity, confidence and picking up those pieces of my life and putting them back together.
“I am really excited to continue my journey with Climbing Out and feel privileged to have been invited to take part in the wilderness canoeing exhibition. I look forward to creating new memories and overcoming even bigger challenges. Seeing how far I can push myself gives me huge confidence boost and I can’t think of a better way to do just that than on this wonderful adventure we are about to embark on. I hope that by sharing my experience I will also be able to raise awareness of Climbing Out among others who might have faced similar challenges to mine to show them that, with support of good-hearted people like those at Climbing Out, they can overcome anything that comes their way.”