I’ve always wanted to climb Mount Everest. It’s one of those things on my bucket list. Several years ago I was researching to see what it would take to condition myself for the climb. The physical training, the financial expense and statistics of death were enough to move it to the bottom of the list.
I did revisit the thought this past week. Not to actually pursue it, but I was curious as to what the body actually goes through.
I read several articles, and it’s quite remarkable what the human body is capable of or not capable of.
I began to think why is it that some succeed and survive the climb, while others succumb to their demise. Was it their training? Was it a pre-existing condition they were not aware of? Was it environmental such as an avalanche or a fall?
The conditions are cold and brutal. One can only speculate what it must feel like to stand at the bottom, look up and think “I’m about to spend the next two months climbing Mount Everest!”
Years of training, an average cost of $45,000 and it comes to this. Two months ascending a mountain. Will I survive? What a scary reality!
As you ascend your heart races, your body becomes fatigued, you can’t breathe as the oxygen diminishes, your cold, the digestive system is slowed, you become nauseated and vomit, you want to sleep, but can’t. You must always be aware of your surroundings, but you can barely see and you are carrying an extra thirty pounds of gear. This challenge must be approached one step at a time.
As reflective as I have been lately, I couldn’t help but to think, life can put some mountains in our way too. Each of us is different. Some have better skills and training than others, some minds and bodies cope with every day stress and chores better than others. Our minds operate different in times of stress or trouble. Our physiological responses are different. Does your heart race with anxiety? Do your palms sweat? Do you become short of breath? Do you just want to sleep the day away to avoid dealing with it? Are you overwhelmed or paralyzed with fear?
What are your mountains? Have you dealt with sexual abuse? Have you lost a child? Do you have a mental illness? Are you staring at a cancer diagnosis? Do you have a physical disability? Are you battling an addiction? Why do some survive and seem to come out on top, while others seem to struggle every single day?
Depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief and pain can take their toll. Basic tasks become overwhelming. Things build up and you lose your ability to make decisions, you have a difficult time seeing the bigger picture. The conditions seem to worsen and your hope for reaching the summit begins to fade.
I’m not going to lie, I do get tired battling my daughter’s depression. There is a lot involved, every single day. I love her and I want to see her succeed. I want to see her beat this shit!! I will be there to hold her when she is sad and calm her when she is anxious. I will be there to help her, guide her, push her up the mountain, support her and celebrate her victories.
When Emberly died, she changed and I changed. We will never be the people we were before we experienced this grief.
There is nothing normal about saying hello and goodbye to a beautiful Angel baby in the same day. Nothing normal about having your baby’s ashes placed in a bear for you to hold. Nothing can prepare you for this loss. Nothing.
No one told us how to act. No one prepared us for the intense emotions we would experience. We have had to figure things out as we go. I pray you never understand.
During my research about climbing Mount Everest I was also surprised to learn most climbers die when they are descending, when the body is weaker, resources are depleted and the time spent in brutal conditions is longer.
I can not help but to compare that to some of our personal experiences. As humans we are all to eager to support people when they are succeeding and on the way to the top.
What about through the rough times when we can barely stand? What about those times when the avalanche of life comes hurling at you and you can no longer breathe?!
If you saw someone lying injured under a pile of snow, would you leave them there? Would you walk by like you did not see them? Or would you help them? Offer food or a blanket? Call for help?
Did you know climbers also have a support staff? That is one of the reasons it is so expensive. A team of people to help with gear, oxygen tanks, food, base camp, affixing ropes and medical staff. It is a team effort and a team success when someone reaches the summit. Those climbers do not get to the top on their own.
If you know someone who is struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief, chronic pain or anything for that matter, my advice is to offer some support, encourage them and help them to regain some purpose. Don’t leave them lying on the mountain side scared, alone, cold, gripped with fear and anxiety awaiting their demise. Help them stand up and climb! One thing at a time, one step at a time, one minute at a time. Hold the Lantern, share your light.
As always, thanks for reading. Please like, comment and share. Be gentle, I’m not an expert, just a mom.