The Doc coached me back onto the wall

I was at the climbing gym at 1445 hrs in the afternoon.  Time was not on my side.  I had just enough time to put my valuables in my rented locker and get my Skwamas on before  little kids and their young parents began coming in, seemingly by the millions.  Jim, one of the owners, gave a group of them an introductory talk before they were cut loose to run about the gym as they saw fit (even though the rules specifically say, “NO RUNNING”).  Jim tried to instill a bit of climber’s safety and etiquette with his talk, but it went unheeded, falling on mostly deaf ears, evidently.  I was trying to work a few of the new bouldering problems that had been set on Monday, but I was overrun and had little kids literally pushing me out of the way so that they could get on the wall where I would have been.  There are moments when you wish you were not “of legal age to be charged with a crime”, and could just shove back!!!  Where were these kids’ parents???  Um, supervision???  PLEASE???  Someone???  It was overwhelming and I moved to the far end of the main floor bouldering wall, where a green overhanging V1 that had a start hold shaped like a four-leaf clover was.  It went from extremely overhanging to very overhanging as far as the walls went.  I named it “Green Cloverhang”.  I had already called Kathy to tell Dr. Nicholson that I needed a coaching moment and that I was at the gym, around people, but I needed the coaching moment very badly.  There were a few people I knew at the gym.  Taylor came in and said he was glad to see me climbing again. Emily and Brian arrived and were warming up.  Emily came over and talked to me for a few minutes.  My phone rang,  It was the Doc!  I could hardly hear myself think, but I managed to hear him over the noise.  “So, Chris, you’re at the climbing gym?”  Yeah.  I’m having a hard time.  This Depression is really getting me bad.  “Well, we can talk some more about meds on Friday, but right now, I think climbing would be the best thing to do.  You’re not going to feel better all at once.  It’s cumulative, you know.  And you just got done being sick for a month and have had a lot of stress – you know, we have to factor that all in.  I want you to climb without thinking, if that makes any sense.”  Elaborate?  “Do you have your climbing shoes on?”  Yes, Sir.  “Is there a spot on the wall that you can see that isn’t being used?  Can you see a spot on the wall where you can climb?”  I looked at the green overhung V1 and no one was in sight.  Yes, Sir.  “Okay.  I’m thinking you’re feeling frozen right now.  Am I right?  You’re feeling frozen right now, like want to do something, but you can’t do anything?”  Yes, Sir.  “Okay.  I want you to focus on that spot on the wall.  Is there anything you need to do before you go and climb?  Is everything put away and safe – you don’t need to put anything in your pack or anything like that?”  No, Sir.  “Okay, because I want you to focus on your spot – you’ve got your climbing shoes on, right?”  Yes, Sir.  “Okay.  Focus on that spot and I want you to imagine yourself walking over to it.”  Okay.  “Now, I want you to imagine putting your hand on…do you put a hand on first, or a foot, or what do you touch the wall with first?”  Both hands matched on a single hold, left foot on a hold, right foot flagged.  “Okay, so imagine yourself in putting your hands on the start hold and…”  Wait.  A kid just took over my spot.  “Is there another spot?”  I looked around.  There were kids everywhere, running around, getting in front of people…  I replied that there weren’t any other spots.  “Okay, well while she’s getting done, I want you to imagine yourself climbing through the first five or six or seven moves of the problem.”  Silence as I imagined that.  “Okay.  Now as soon as she gets out of the way, I want you to walk across the mat to the wall, get on the wall, and climb.  Don’t think about it.  Just do it.”  Okay, she’s off the wall.  “Okay, go.  Are you going?  Okay.  Call me back when you get done.”  I ended the call, shoved my cell phone in my pocket, got on the wall, and climbed all six moves that I had imagined climbing beforehand, then dropped, got off the mat, and called the Doc back.  “Did you do it?”  I got as far as I had imagined getting.  “Good.  Now you’re climbing.  Right?  You’re climbing.  I want you to climb that route for the next 45 minutes or until your arms fall off.”  Yes, Sir.  Thank you. “Okay, bye.”

I ended up getting two-thirds of the way up the problem with Emily’s encouragement and a little beta help.  While I was resting, I watched Emily lead climb with Brian belaying her across the gym.  She was doing well.  On my way out, I said goodbye to Jim and Heath.  Heath said, “Hey, good job!  I saw you over there on the wall today.    I saw you – good job!”  He gave me a thumbs-up.  I appreciated that and thanked him.  I was glad to get out of the busy place, but also proud of myself for going.  And I was proud of myself for being able to ask for help when I needed it.  I was also proud of myself for being a person that people like enough to pay attention to, like Heath noticing me way at the far end of the wall struggling with a V1 overhang problem when he had so many other things he could’ve been paying attention to.  People notice when I’m gone.  I’m a well-established member of the tribe!!!  That makes me feel good.

Today, after my dentist appointment (everybody LOVES the dentist, right?), I’m going to meet Emily over at the climbing gym and we’re going to climb together-ish.  In other words, she’s going to do her training thing and I’m going to do my climbing thing and we’re going to cheer one another on as we do it, haha!  It’s good to have someone to encourage you when you’re doing this stuff.  Winter gets long…

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