First, I want to apologize for not writing an article in a while. I started a new job, and have been in invested in that and trying to find a new routine. I finally feel as if I have some type of footing, so I am hoping to be writing more!
Today, I really want to talk about my experience this weekend. I want to talk about what it is like to experience trying a new activity with depression and anxiety, with a bunch of other women. In previous articles, I discussed how being around women can sometimes heighten my anxiety and depression. I get lost in comparing. I get lost in diminishing myself. I get lost in made-up competition. I get lost in thinking how I will never be as “cool” as them. I get lost in feeling like too much and too little. It can become all consuming at times and really hinder the activity I’m trying to do.
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Lately, I have been growing in this arena. I have embraced doing outdoor activities with other women. I started an outdoor women group. We have gone on hikes. We have done socials. We have started a book club. And I love it. Truly. But this weekend, I wanted to put my new found love of doing outdoor activities with women to the test. I took a Women’s Intro to Ice Climbing Class with Smuggs Ice Bash in Vermont.
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I was nervous about how I would compare to the other women. I was nervous about looking like a fool. I was nervous that I wasn’t good enough to try this class. I was nervous that I wasn’t good enough. I was nervous that I didn’t belong. All of these thoughts were unnecessary. My anxiety and depression inserted these thoughts in my mind. I did my best to be in the present and just be myself. I stepped into the class with some positivity that I could muster. I wanted to just give it my best shot. I wanted to not let my anxiety and depression get in the way of this experience.
The two guides were pretty amazing. They were supportive. They were down to earth. I was still a little bit intimidated, but I did my best. I asked questions when I needed to. But I still felt stupid asking certain questions. I felt as if some of my questions were common sense, that I somehow just lacked.
But over all the class was amazingly positive. I was surprised how comfortable I felt
with the other ladies in the class. When we were walking to the ice climbing spot, I chatted with some of them. I connected. I had things in common. We talked about how we sometimes felt like a burden with our other outdoor friends who were more advanced than us in certain activities. We talked about letting our friends know our outdoor boundaries. We talked about how our work life affected our outdoor life. We talked about feeling like we don’t know what we are doing half the time. We talked about how nervous and excited we were to try ice climbing. How we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to do it.
These conversations were comforting. I felt a little less alone than I did before. I felt that I wasn’t the only one feeling the way I did.
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Then the class started. We arrived at the ice climb and began. We learned techniques. We took turns trying to ice climb. When it was my turn, I struggled. It took me such a long time to get off the ground. I felt distracted. I was hard on myself. Things didn’t click with me like they seem like they did with the others. My anxious and depressive thoughts started flowing. I thought about how I was incompetent. I thought how I would never be good enough. I thought how I knew I could never compare with the other girls in the group.
With a lot of effort and patience from myself and my guide, I was able to move past these thoughts and continue the climb. I’m so glad I did because I freaking LOVED it. It felt so good being on the ice. It felt right. If I listened to my thoughts, I would have never had this experience. I would have never overcome and see what I was capable of.
There was another girl in the class, who was trying the climb before me. She tried climbing it and she struggled. She eventually gave up. I wasn’t in her mind, so I can’t say why she did. She might have been cold. She may have not been enjoying herself. She may have felt guilty because she was taking too long. She may have felt stupid. She may have just not liked it.
I hope she stopped climbing because she simply didn’t want to climb. If it was because of similar thoughts that I have had in the past, I understand. Those thoughts are overpowering. It can make you feel less in an instant, then you would rather disappear than keep trying. It’s hard to move past them. It’s hard to fight past that anxious and depressive gut feelings. When I’m with other women, those feelings are often intensified, as I mentioned.
I was proud that I kept going. I’m proud that I felt connected. I’m proud that we had camaraderie. These past two days, I have been thinking of that class a lot. I thought of how far I have come. How I didn’t automatically go to negative thoughts when I first met them. How I pushed past it when I did. How I had an amazing weekend.
Something that once gave me intense anxiety, now only gives me mild anxiety. Something that once intensified my depression, is now only fleeting. Something that once would stop me in my tracks. Something that would stop me from experiencing life, is now moot. It was a process. It wasn’t easy for me to get here. It took me years. You may not be where I am yet. That’s okay. Keep doing your best and believe that you can get there one day.
What you are feeling now, won’t be the way you feel forever.