re·sil·ience

The capacity to recover from difficulties; toughness.

It’s something that I’ve learned a great deal about over the last year. My mind a state of panic as I was being wheeled into the operating room, nearly passing out while doing PT exercises in the following days, fighting through seized up muscles and tendons due to therapy lockdowns as a result of the pandemic.

Climbing injuries happen. Overuse, repeated strain, the desire to push our limits, endless training, the list goes on. The addiction must be fed. Resilience just seems to be the name of the game for those that WANT to keep going.

Molly Mitchell is certainly no stranger to this concept.

Her Instagram account tells the tale of her accident:

“Thursday, October 1 (2020), I took the worst fall of my life. On a send go of my project, I fell around 30 feet, ripping 4 pieces of gear, and hit the ground (luckily onto a crash pad). After a scary few hours of being put in an ambulance and rushed to the ER, the doctor gave me my diagnosis: 2 fractured vertebrae in my lower back.”

Like most of us who suffer injury as a result of our passions, the future sometimes feels uncertain. I followed her progress through recovery and couldn’t help but draw a great deal of inspiration from her perseverance. While going through my own, there were moments where I realized that it would be quicker and shorter to just walk away from training for a return to my passion. My PT team even informed me that I would have been released sooner if my goal had been something basic like golf or running. Nope, gotta be climbing and that requires WORK.

The same month as her injury, she also had an article published in Climbing Magazine. The subject: Self-Worth and Anxiety. Two things that have plagued me since childhood and have evolved in different forms over the course of a lifetime. She explains growing up with these conditions and the endless challenges that accompany them. I feel that a lot of us can relate to the experiences that growing up with those kind of insecurities can bring. The constant barrage of self-doubt and the the endless loop of comparison. The internal voice that puts you down more than any naysayer could in person.

She explains in the article that she took what I see as one of the bravest steps possible. Instead of sitting idly by and letting it all consume her, she reached out. She started to see a psychologist. Those who don’t suffer from some kind of disorder might not realize just how difficult this particular step can be. Having been through it myself, it has proven to be incredibly difficult to find a professional who is taking new patients. Add to that the roll of the dice if they are even going to be a good fit for your personality and share an understanding of what makes you tick as a person, well… it can be a dauting process. Combine those two elements with the financial burden that can quickly add up with repeated visits (one session isn’t going to do it folks) and you could be looking at shelling out a upwards of a grand in a full year intense work.

These hurdles. Taken one at a time, they are challenging to manage. Tackling them both simultaneously, it takes a LOT of resilience. I can’t help but respect that and draw (no pun intended) a lot of inspiration and motivation in my own life from it.

Molly Mitchell

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