Rx “Climbing ad lib“. Ad libitum. Medical definition of ad lib : without restraint or imposed limit : as much or as often as is wanted – often used in medical prescriptions (note), (from Merriam-Webster’s online medical dictionary, © 2018).
This is the most awesome prescription I’ve ever had. I mean it! That absolutely rocks!!! The Doc used to climb himself on Sheep Mountain near Helena when he was younger. He knows full well what he’s doing and telling me to do. It is SO awesome to have a psychiatrist who loves the outdoors and also has a brilliant mind with the compassion on humanity to share it!!! Those great doctors – when you find them, hold onto them for dear life, and your life will be enriched. I promise! The Doc got me into climbing almost (we’re just over a month shy of it) two years ago. Two years already! What a two years it’s been! I can’t say that every day has been spectacular, but I haven’t been in the inpatient psych ward for over two years! That’s saying a lot right there! As a distress tolerance option and an emotion regulation option in DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), climbing has been the go-to since the day the Doc mentioned it!!! The day he said I should go down to the indoor climbing gym, I went there, bought my first pair of climbing shoes, a chalk ball, a chalk bag, and a month’s membership (which turned into over a year’s membership by the time I bought the annual membership and washed holds for competitions for some extra membership time). Oh, yeah, and I CLIMBED until I was so exhausted I could hardly move!!! I knew nothing about climbing, except that I absolutely loved it the first time I tried it. You’ve heard me go on and on in my blog posts about how it’s such an addiction, but it truly is! If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself!!! I’ve never had any fear of heights, nor do I now. I have a healthy respect for heights, which adds to the relief that climbing gives me. There’s so much to customize and experiment with in climbing, too! First, you get to choose a discipline! At present, there are about nine of them, although, you could narrow it down if you absolutely had to. I separate indoor and outdoor climbing into different disciplines because there’s really no comparison – they’re completely different animals! I began with indoor bouldering at the old climbing gym, which was called Steep World and was owned and operated by Jim Rott. Jim’s story is a good one, and I should really interview him for a blog post sometime. I’ll add that to my list of blog projects, as a matter of fact! Anyway, indoor bouldering gave me a foundation for route setting, which I began learning under AJ, the head route setter, shortly after the second competition that I had participated in at the climbing gym. I paid for a private lesson with Michelle to teach me how to belay, toprope, and rappel after I bought a harness online that would fit me. I didn’t plan on using that for a while, but I wanted to know how in case the opportunity came up to go climbing outdoors. AJ introduced me to outdoor roped climbing last spring at The Ovens outside Red Lodge, MT. I was so psyched!!! It was such a great experience!!! AJ and I, and later AJ, Emily, and I, and occasionally, AJ, Emily, James, and I went on weekend adventures all summer long to places within three hours or so of Billings, like Bozeman, Cody, Red Lodge, Natural Bridge State Park, and Ten Sleep Canyon!!! It was an amazing summer!!! I’ll never forget it!!!
The point of recounting that short history is that I’ve got some cabin fever right now concerning climbing. First of all, I want to get my climbing routine back in fluid order. Second, I want to get outside and climb with my buddies! I’m excited to see what Emily’s going to be capable of outside as far as sport climbing goes, because she’s gotten a lot stronger and more confident as a climber since her shoulder injury last summer. I’m excited to see James get back into climbing after getting hit by a truck on his bike last fall (the driver was at fault). I do wonder how his recovery is going. And I’m super excited to get to see what AJ wants to project on because he’s a very strong climber! As far as what I’m going to be capable of, we’ll see what happens. I need to lose a ton (well, not quite a ton, but close, haha) of weight and get back on the wall in a serious way after this devastating two-month-long series of illnesses that has left me weak and depressed. I need to work on everything – power, strength, grip strength, endurance, power endurance, weight loss, hiking up and down steep terrain, you name it! I feel like I’m starting over in my climbing world, and that in itself is somewhat depressing. That’s why the Doc wrote the prescription for me, I think. I asked him if he could, and he happily – excitedly, even – pulled out his prescription pad and wrote that prescription for me, saying, “You need to get back on the wall. You can do the training thing if you want to, but you need to climb.”
That’s right. I NEED TO CLIMB!!! I even have a medical prescription to do so! I carry my prescription around with me in my wallet the way I carry my climbing gear around with me – everywhere I go, just in case an opportunity presents itself! That’s one thing that I haven’t stopped doing in all the time I’ve been a climber. Since 30 April 2016, I’ve carried my climbing shoes and my chalk bag with me everywhere I go, because you never know when you’ll get a chance to climb. You never want to have an opportunity to climb and not have your climbing shoes and your chalk handy!!! In my crag pack, I have my harness, my belay device, my climbing shoes, my chalk bag with my favorite chalk, climbing tape, and a headlamp. That should work for anything I don’t have to rappel down to, which is a safe bet right now because I’m not ice climbing and the great outdoors in Montana hasn’t dried out enough to climb yet. I have my complete indoor climbing kit all packed comfortably in my crag pack, ready to go at a moment’s notice. As long as I’m driving my truck, I have all the outdoor gear I need, too. Then all I have to do is find a belay partner! I’m glad I have the support of my climbing buddies. It’s an extensive support system and it furthers my therapy in that I make social connections and actually have friends whom I trust with my life that care about me and wonder where I am and miss me and want to go and do stuff with me. I haven’t had that kind of camaraderie since the military! There aren’t many places where you find that kind of camaraderie in the civilian world. Trust me, I’ve searched! Trust is a life-or-death deal in climbing, as it is in the military, so I feel like I belong in the climbing world. All of that contributes to a lower suicide risk for everybody. Doctors like that. A LOT!!! I wandered for 16 years, searching for my tribe, and finally found it. Now let’s go climb!!!