Corey’s dad introduced him to climbing and the outdoors. In 2010, Corey’s dad died by suicide.
We don’t actually have a complete count of suicide attempt data because the stigma surrounding it leads to a lot of underreporting. But having an open dialogue and sharing stories like Corey’s is helping to break down the barrier of this stigma, and lead to more conversations and understanding of depression and mental illness. This is Corey’s story, and this episode is in loving memory of Don Mowery Jr.
This episode is brought to you by Deuter, Gnarly Nutrition, Allez Outdoors, and Dirtbag Climbers. Music by: “Jazzy Frenchy”, “Cute”, “Funny Song”, and “Enigmatic” by bensound.com, “Ichill” by Kakurenbo, “Pives and Flarinet”, “Ruby”, and “Tweedlebugs” by Podington Bear, “Sense of Music” by Borrtex, and “Thinking it Over” by Lee Rosevere.
(FEMALE VOICE): Today we’re going to talk about “allez”. “Allez” means “come on!” in a way, or to encourage. Ok! We are done with the simple and normal uses of “allez”, now let’s cut to the chase:
(KATHY KARLO): Allez Outdoor Personal Care products are made by climbers for those who love the outdoors. Their rich and repairing ingredients for their skincare collection are inspired by desert landscapes, and their simple and recyclable packaging makes them eco-sustainable. Allez commits to protecting the open spaces that we love by partnering with the Access Fund and 1% for the Planet. You can win a years’ supply of Allez product by following them on Instagram (that’s Allez Outdoor: “A-L-L-E-Z”), posting a story about an upcoming or past adventure and tagging them. Allez will announce one winner per episode. Allez Outdoor—made by climbers, for those who love the outdoors.
– This podcast is sponsored by Deuter, one of the leading backpack brands that will help you hit the trails with confidence and comfort, but most importantly–your snacks. Deuter has a history of first ascents and alpine roots. Their head of product development even climbed Everest once, in jeans (hashtag not fake news.) Deuter is known for fit, comfort, and ventilation. Founded in 1898, Deuter believes in good fitting backpacks, so you can focus on way cooler things like puppies, pocket bacon, and gettin’ sendy, whether at the crag or in the alpine.
– We’re working with Better Help to connect you to licensed therapists because even though my advice and opinions are free, I am improvising the whole thing. Better Help lets you message a licensed therapist, day or night. They’ll match you with the perfect therapist for a fraction of the cost of traditional therapy. You know who goes to therapy? Prince Harry. Emma Stone. Jenny Slate. Kesha. Therapy is beautiful—everyone should go to therapy. Go to betterhelp.com/climbing to sign up and receive one free week. It helps support this show, and it helps support you.
– This podcast gets support from Gnarly Nutrition, one of the leading protein supplements that tastes “whey” better than they need to because they use quality natural ingredients. So, whether you’re a working mom who runs circles around your kids on weekends or an unprofessional climber trying to send that 5.13 in the gym, Gnarly Nutrition has all of your recovery needs. The only question you need to ask yourself is: Are you a sucker for anything that tastes like chocolate ice cream? (Yeah, me neither.) Gnarly Nutrition is designed to enhance your progress—and taste like a milkshake, without all the crap.
– Have you ever cut an exterior hole in your van? Me neither. Building out a van can be hard work, not to mention that table saws have a funny way of leaving you with fewer fingers than you started with. (We’ll ask Tommy Caldwell all about it when he returns my emails.) I really can’t be trusted with power tools since a drywall incident in 2005—but Mark and Anthony can. Roaming Ingenuity is a team of outdoor enthusiasts and tinkerers based out of Fort Collins, Colorado. Whether you are looking for a custom van build, or just need a little help with installing a roof vent, they can help. PS—I never actually emailed Tommy Caldwell.
(footsteps on gravel trail)
(KK): Hi. Hey, you guys— if you have a minute, I was wondering if I could ask you for a favor?
(FEMALE VOICE): Sure.
(KK): So, I run a podcast and I’m taking audio clips from people on the trail today and I’m just asking them one question.
(FEMALE VOICE): Sure!
(KK): How are you doing?
(FEMALE VOICE): I’m great.
(KK): (laughs) How are you today?
(MALE VOICE): I’m great! (laughs)
(KK): How are you?
(FEMALE VOICE): I’m wonderful.
(MALE VOICE): I’m doing great today! (laughs)
(KK): So the question is, how are you?
(MALE VOICE): I’m spent. We climbed all day, it was awesome.
(MALE VOICE): I’m great. How are you?
(KK): How are you?
(FEMALE VOICE): I’m good, thanks.
(FEMALE VOICE): Very well, thank you.
(MALE VOICE): I am good enough.
(KK): How are you?
(MALE CHILD VOICE): Good.
(KK): I just want to know: how are you?
(MALE VOICE): I’m good. I’m good. I’m probably, yeah! I’m pretty good!
(KK): When someone asks, “How are you?” do you answer honestly? For most Americans (and yes, it is a US thing), the question gets thrown around as a casual greeting. Most people don’t expect you to respond with anything other than, “I’m good!” or “Fine, how are you?” Nobody actually expects someone to say, “It’s going pretty badly!”—because how do you respond to that? Awkward. And—there are probably a million reasons why this happens: we’re too busy, the honest answer is kinda depressing, and wouldn’t the world just be a better place if we didn’t talk to anyone at all? (Just kidding.)
Yeah, we can’t always be a hundred percent honest. It’s just not the reality of things. But the thing is, when you’re feeling kinda blue or in the middle of a shit storm, it can be a really difficult question, and it takes a lot of patience to answer it when you kinda feel like crap. But it can also be a nice reminder that we’re all human, and you never really know what someone is going through at any given time.
In 2010, Corey’s dad died by suicide. This is Corey’s story, and this episode is in loving memory of Don Mowery Jr. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that on average, there are one hundred and twenty-nine suicides per day. We don’t actually have a complete count of suicide attempt data because the stigma surrounding it leads to a lot of underreporting. But having an open dialogue and sharing stories like Corey’s is helping to break down the barrier of this stigma, and lead to more conversations and understanding of things like depression and mental illness.
After meeting up with Corey in Red Rocks, I couldn’t help but wonder: what would the world look like if we all had to answer that question honestly? Please note that there is discussion about child sexual abuse, depression and suicide in this episode. Visit http://www.fortheloveofclimbing.com for resources available at the end of the transcript.
(COREY MOWRY): Every year, we’d go up to Big Sur for Mother’s Day. And so, this one year my dad told my mom, “Oh, I’m going to take Corey and Casey down this river,” We had a little raft and it was like this tiny little thing. And it was supposed to be this calm, like, “Oh, we’re just going to cruise down the river. She’s going to drive down and pick us up at the end of the river.” But it ended up being the most crazy, disastrous little mini-trip ever. And me and Casey were, I don’t know, like, eleven years old or something. But the first few minutes, we run into the side of these bushes over in the water and the spiders are just crawling all over us. And then, we’re freaking out and my dad keeps his calm and then we lost the paddle and then he had to jump in and grab the paddle. And we’re like, “Ok. We got through the spider phase.” And then went further down the river and all of a sudden, these kids started throwing rocks at us and we started hitting the rocks with the paddle and my dad, again, is maneuvering us out of the way. And then, we get towards the end and had to pull the raft from the water, walk around this log, and then my brother Casey was about to step down and my dad grabbed his shoulder and lifted him up—and he was basically about to step on a rattlesnake that was curled up, shaking its rattle.
And this little casual river trip ended up being the most epic adventure ever that I’ll never forget! And it was like, that’s kind of his spirit, just kind of leading these things and he’s just like, “Eh!” You know? “Fun time. Right, guys?” And, you know, I got that from him, and that joy and that kind of, “you don’t know until you try” mentality in life. And just rolling with the punches—especially outdoors, especially climbing and especially when you’re river rafting these sketchy little Big Sur rivers (laughs).
(KK): Don was the person who introduced Corey to the great outdoors because he loved being outside and he loved sharing it with his boys. Corey and his brothers grew up in southern California, but they went everywhere. When the boys were little, Don bought a trailer and took them road tripping, all the way up to Yosemite and Big Sur every year. A common sight was Don, leading his boys into the wild. He was warm and loving, and there was a comfort in talking to him. At work, a lot of his staff members would lean on him for support—he was just that kind of guy.
(CM): Very soft spoken, he was very kinda methodical. He didn’t share his emotions, but he was just kinda someone you entrusted everything with. You know what I mean? When he left us, we did a ceremony at camp and hundreds and hundreds of people came. And it was like, the most magical thing ever: everyone speaking, saying amazing things. Everyone in shock, not really knowing why or how, because he affected so many people. I didn’t even realize it until I saw everyone there and was like, “Wow—this is a big network of people that have all had a positive relationship with him.” So, I was just like, “Holy shit.” Like, I kinda knew it but, you know, it wasn’t real until I saw everyone there. Seeing police officers and staff members and campers and family. You know, you kinda just see how important one life could be.
Right now, we’re recording this. Like, I know I have good friends and family but it’s hard to tell the effect if I wasn’t here, like, what it’d be. But I bet it’s bigger than I envision and same for you and same for everyone. We all have so much to offer and life sucks sometimes, but being able to persevere through life’s ups and downs—that alone is an accomplishment and you reap the benefits. And the people around you reap the benefits as well.
(KK): You’re listening to For the Love of Climbing Podcast. This is not a climbing podcast. Well, sorta. This is a funny, sad, and somewhat uncomfortable podcast about choosing vulnerability and talking openly about our pain. This podcast is sponsored by Dirtbag Climbers. Here’s the show.
(CM): I’m Corey. Born and raised in Southern California, Los Angeles area. Once I was nine years old, my whole family packed up and moved towards the mountains—the Santa Monica range. My parents got a job at a summer camp out there, so ran this big property. I went from this Glendale inner city kid to this kid living in the woods with my twin brother and just having this whole access to the mountains. That’s kinda my childhood, in a nutshell.
I’ve been in the music industry for the past, you know, ten years. I was managing artists and now I’m a financial manager at this CPA firm, managing, you know, musicians, tours, and finances and contracts and all that fun stuff. I definitely like the entertainment industry aspect of it and I love being around people and being in the city but, I do have a part of my heart in the woods and in the mountains where I grew up.
(KK): Corey was born in Southern California, where his dad worked on a narcotics unit and later, became a homicide detective before they moved to the camp where Corey and his brothers grew up.
(CM): Yeah, so my dad was actually a police officer for fifteen years. So, it was just kind of weird that he ended up directing a summer camp. But for him, it made a lot of sense because he’s always loved the outdoors. Growing up in the camp, we actually had an outdoor climbing wall. So, I was doing that when I was nine and my dad actually got me my first climbing shoes and a harness. And then, from there, our property backed up to Malibu Creek State Park which is kind of this pretty famous state park. In old movie days, they would shoot Planet of the Apes out there and a bunch of old TV shows. But there’s cool sporty crags out there. You know, all single pitch but that’s kind of where I got my start. I guess high school’s when I started climbing outdoors and then, I was kinda doing music at the same time. I was playing in a band, and then college happened, and then my band broke up and then my climbing partner—we broke up. He moved away! And then I started working full-time, going on tour and working with bands. And then, you know, the past few years, getting back into it. And then I’m like, “Alright! I’m going to go to the gym every day and start working out again and getting in shape!” So now, hopefully, grow from here and start pushing it for some bigger stuff. I’m not too old yet, right?
(KK): No (laughs).
(CM): I’m good. So! But yeah, so I’ve always been attracted to the mountains. Like a big hiker, big snowboarder, big runner-hiker-jogger-walker, and then climbing just upped it all. I just kind of fell in love going up vertical rock.
(KK): Corey spent seventeen years running around summer camp, playing on rocks and going swimming and climbing. He described himself as a “brat camp kid”, and had the kind of childhood that most kids only dream of. Not only did he have a storybook childhood, but it was normal…or so he thought.
(CM): You hear all these “Me Too” stories and you kinda put it in the back somewhere where you just don’t really address it. Yeah, I didn’t talk about it for like ten years. I didn’t even know it was there, to be honest until I was in my twenties. When me and my twin brother turned ten years old, we were taken advantage of by this adult male counselor. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a summer camp: there’s counselors and there’s staff. That’s what kind of makes the whole experience, but it’s cool because you have people come around from the entire world for the summer and they’re here to work and help kids grow and discover themselves. But when I was ten years old, I was sexually abused multiple times by this camp counselor who we entrusted, you know what I mean? And I look back on my camp days and it was so positive and there was so much good. But it was like, “Oh wait. Well, this happened.” And I didn’t really talk about it until my early twenties.
(KK): Can a memory really be forgotten completely? And do we forget our worst memories? There’s arguments for both. Some psychotherapists believe that children understand and respond to trauma differently from adults, and when they’re hurt (especially if they are sexually abused), they may “dissociate,” and block out the memory in order to protect themselves. Dissociation just means that a memory is not actually lost, but is unavailable for an unknown amount of time. It kind of gets put into a memory storage, like on a hard drive somewhere, but can’t be recalled until it’s accessed again. There is currently a lot of research that will argue this theory.
The person who abused Corey passed away in a car accident, which Corey found out when he was in high school.
(CM): It took that to bring up all these memories of what actually happened. I buried it so much. I ended up talking to my parents about it. My dad not managed just me and my brothers, but all of the staff members and all the campers. And he would pay for staff members coming from Europe and he would pay them some extra money if they don’t have gas money or whatever. And he just always took care of everyone else, and I think when that happened, he felt like he let me down.
I was twenty-three back in 2010 and full-blown in the music industry. I was working with bands and I was actually on tour across the country with this band. I was in Maryland when I got a call from my mom and found out that my dad had committed suicide. And it’s funny ‘cause my first reaction was: he fell off a cliff, right? Or he fell hiking—because he was the one who introduced me to the mountains and introduced me to climbing. She just told he was gone. I pressed her and she was like, “Oh, no. He died of suicide.” and I was just like, “What?”. I was in Maryland at the time and across the country and it was just the last thing I would ever expect.
(KK): Corey had, and has no way of knowing, but he often wondered if one of the reasons why his father died was partially because of the guilt he carried with him after what had happened to his sons.
(CM): I was in Jersey City and I remember specifically my flip my phone. My dad actually texted me and my brothers that morning and just said, “Love you guys. I’m proud of you.” And I looked at my phone—didn’t think twice of it. You know what I mean? I was just like, “Oh, cool.” I didn’t even respond to it. I just closed it. It was my day off—you know what I mean? I guess it was kinda odd looking back because he’s always struggled opening up and he didn’t share much. But yeah, so, I closed my phone and then I ran back into the water and did my thing, and that’s when I got the call the next night.
I crippled, you know. I didn’t know what to do. Luckily, I had some people on tour with me and they helped me out. They shoved me on a plane back to California and I had some family pick me up and we went over to camp. So, it was just—it was a blur because it was at the peak of the summer. So, we had hundreds of people up. And, you know, he was Mr. Accommodating—like, he never wanted to hurt anyone. So, he drove off the property. He drove and went to a hotel to stay away from everyone and not intrude anyone. He even went in the bathroom and closed the curtain. He didn’t want to burden anybody with anything—which is kind of weird and totally him, looking back on it.
(KK): Don was such a thoughtful man his entire life, and he was even thoughtful in death. He left letters to Corey and his brothers, his mom, his best friend, and a few beloved staff members. What he didn’t include were his reasons why.
(CM): It’s weird, a lot of it’s kind of jumbled and you kinda see the hard time he was in, in the moment. Luckily, I have a great family and support system and that’s kinda how we got through it. We, as a family, made a pact: me and my mom and my two brothers. Like, we’re going to talk about everything—there’s no secrets. That’s the reason I’m on this podcast! He loved the outdoors, but he went to kind of escape. Like, he would love going on solo adventures and hiking around and kind of getting lost. And he loved that beauty side of nature and kind of used that to, you know, fill him up.
At the end of the day, it’s hopelessness. You know what I mean? And we’re all in this crazy world together and we all get the best of it and we get the worst of it together. And when you feel hopeless and there’s nothing else to live for—it’s just the mind is so fragile and it’s so powerful. And if there’s anything that we can do, it’s just listen to one another and support each other and just be there for each other. And it doesn’t even have to be in a deep conversation. Be like, “I’m here this week and I’m around,” if you feel like someone’s going through something. Or, if you’re really close to them: call ‘em out, you know, and see what’s up and be like, “Have you talked to somebody?” That shouldn’t be something we’re scared of doing anymore because I know for a fact that my dad, he never talked once about being depressed. The stigma around talking about your feelings—he could never overcome that. And that went all the way to the last day.
(KK): Fashion designer Kate Spade, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, and countless other publicized suicides have left people talking more about how we can help those with behavioral health conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide rates have increased thirty percent in the last twenty years, and they account for nearly one million deaths globally. And yet, despite the harsh reality of these numbers, we live in a society that still struggles to openly and honestly talk about mental health.
(CM): You don’t have to run around like, “Everyone—tell me about your mental health!”
(KK): But wouldn’t that be kind of amazing?
(CM): It would be, I know! Let’s just make sure to be like, “Talk to me about your mental health!” No, but yeah—that’s kind of what I do now, actually (laughs). I host this 5k run every year and try and get family and friends together and just open up. Some people that I think would benefit from it are the ones that don’t come and the people that don’t necessarily need it, they come and they love it, you know what I mean? And you kind of see it after doing it year by year. But, you know, who knows? Maybe if I chip away, it might affect them in some way positively. We’re all just normal people, but we can all step up our game a little bit, I think, overall. And especially as a climbing community and an outdoor community. We’re just surrounded by beauty and challenges and we all just are stoked all the time on accomplishing goals. Our mental health comes with us through all those challenges, you know what I mean? So, why are we pretending that it’s not there or it doesn’t exist?
Obviously, it’s draining to talk about sometimes, but it’s real and I’ve had people—they don’t want to talk to me about my dad’s suicide. They think it’s going to spark something in me. I see that fear. But also, they don’t want to address it themselves. Death is already hard to talk about it. You know what I mean? You know, it’s like—I tell somebody, “Oh, my dad passed away,” and that’s how I usually frame it and then: “Oh, I’m sorry. How did he die?” I’ll say, “He died by suicide,” but if I said he died by cancer or he died in a car accident—there are different reactions to every one of those. You know what I mean? And suicide is just, I feel like…I almost find myself hesitant to even say the word.
(KK): Corey hosts a team every year and participates in Alive & Running, a 5k race held annually in Los Angeles, California. This race is meant to spread education and awareness surrounding the stigma of suicide and uplift those remembering lost ones. The first of its kind, the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center is a national leader in training services for people who have thought about, attempted or lost someone to suicide. Not only are there are support groups, but they also train more than 20,000 people each year how to recognize and respond to warning signs.
Suicide is an earthquake—sudden, jolting, and devastating—the aftershocks ripple long after. In an effort to make sense of things, it’s easy to throw labels around like: “He was selfish.” or “She took the easy way out.” When we hear things like this, it contributes to the fear and judgment surrounding the stigma of suicide, and really prevents people who might need help from reaching out and sharing. The stigma behind suicide is pervasive and creates a continuing cycle for many—but wellness and recovery are possible when we choose to talk openly, intelligently, and sensitively to raise awareness and prevention.
(CM): I guess after the suicide, I felt a lot of rage, a lot of anger, the first three years, I would say. It lingered for a long time. And it was real rage. I tried to step up and be the leader of the family, but it’s hard because I’m going through my own life and trying to grow at that moment.
(KK): And you’re twenty-three.
(CM): And I’m twenty-three, and I have my twin brother and he was struggling. He just couldn’t shake it and I don’t blame him. But, the more I talked about it and the more I opened up—I got to a better place with it. And I recognized how deep—because I was never depressed. I was never a depressed person. I didn’t know how hopeless and how lost and deep their feelings got. So I think a lot of my anger came from my perspective like, “What the hell? Things aren’t that bad.” But I was never suicidal. I was never depressed like that. I think seeing good people like my dad and others—people who you and I know, people that you go climbing with, people in your outdoor community that love the outdoors and love community and love people. You’re like: if they see the beauty in the world, why would they go that far? I think understanding definitely helped—talking to people, kinda seeing how widespread this is. Not just people who actually go through it, but the families and…it’s just such a spiderweb of peoples lives affected.
It’s like politics: you don’t want to get involved sometimes because it’s just a mess, you know? And everyone’s so divided on it. So, I think—I think people are divided on seeing cases of people dying by suicide, compared to cancer or other forms, which goes back to the whole unique nature of the death.
(KK): Mental health is a struggle for people to discuss openly, mostly due to a lack of education. As we learn more about suicide, mental illness and other factors that can lead to suicide, our language has also started to evolve. We’re so conditioned to hearing the phrase “committed suicide” that we kinda just use it without a second thought. But the problem with this is that it puts the responsibility on the person. We now use appropriate, non-stigmatising terminology when referring to suicide. The more that we can wield language to accurately and sensitively describe suicide, the more we can encourage a healthy and respectful way to talk about it. Using the word “committed” is considered inaccurate, insensitive, and it strongly contributes to the stigma that is still associated with suicide. A much better term is: “died by suicide.”
(CM): That’s how I was raised hearing about it. So, even when my dad died, I was like, “He committed suicide.” And then, the more I researched, the more I’ve talked about it with people, it’s like kind of the trend has been more towards: “He or she died by suicide.” And yeah, you can look at it and be like, “Oh, it’s just one word. It’s just one little thing.” But it does change the perspective on it and mental health—it’s a real disease and it’s a real problem. Yeah. It’s complex.
(KK): It’s real complex. Thank you. Thank you for sharing this.
(CM): I’ve never gotten to the point where I would consider taking my own life or anything, but I got closer to seeing where that could be a possibility, which was scary. Survivors of suicide—it is a red flag for someone who might, in the future, die of suicide. It’s definitely a reality and that’s what goes back to me and my family and kinda being open and making the pact of, we aren’t hiding anything anymore. We’re being open, we’re leaning on each other. But I also understand not everybody has that kind of community after the fact. That’s why it’s important to be cognizant of everyone and every situation they’re going through—because you don’t know. You don’t know how deep it can be and, I don’t know, there’s so many suicide attempts too that could easily have gone either way. It makes it that much more scary.
I think transparency and being open is the perfect place to start, you know what I mean? Not being scared to talk about how you’re feeling or how your friends are feeling or how you’re family’s feeling. You don’t have to save everyone. You aren’t expected to do that, but there are little things like, “Hey. I’m around if you need anything this weekend,” or “How are you feeling?” Just little stuff like that will go a long way. And, you know, there’s professional help now that we didn’t even have ten years ago. You can see a therapist online now and you don’t even have to go into an office. You know, with all of these options, this rate shouldn’t be going up. If anything, the least we can do is be transparent and talk about it and not be scared to open up and be like, “I’m a guy. I’ve never been great about talking about my feelings, but here I am. This is who I am, this is what I’ve been through. I know you all are struggling with different things as well. Let’s recognize that in each other and tell each other, “Hey. I got you.” Let’s start there and see what happens.
(FEMALE VOICE): If someone tells you something tough they are dealing with and your first instinct is to let a platitude fly: please don’t. I know it makes you uncomfortable, but I’m refusing to say, “I’m fine” when I’m really not. When I was in high school, I lost my virginity to a sexual assault. This sent me into a downward spiral of self-harm and disordered eating, but I was able to climb my way out the hole I dug—literally. So, I stopped saying, “I’m fine.” Who does that help? The person who is asking? No! You need to see this, too. You need to see what it takes to come back from this because one day, you might have to as well. Maybe someone can draw strength from my willingness to talk about this. I’m here to listen, and I’ll spare you the platitudes.
(MALE VOICE): So, I’ve been thinking about this a lot actually and have tried to get away from just saying, “Good! How are you?”—to which somebody usually replies, “Good! How are you?” And maybe neither of us even slows down to listen to even listen for a response. But, I think just noting that we get stuck in this pattern can lead to a more meaningful conversation. Actually had a conversation with a coworker about this recently and we talked about what would it look like and what it would require if we gave people the time and space to truly answer the question.
(FEMALE VOICE): When I hear the question, “How are you doing?”, I think, “Wow! What an overloaded question.” And it’s just become so common for us to use this question as small talk. But when people ask me, “How are you doing?” I genuinely just tell them exactly how I’m doing. Because it’s not a light question and I usually don’t ask people that question lightheartedly. And I really want to know how they’re actually doing. So, I’m completely honest about it and it’s pretty funny to see how people react.
(FEMALE VOICE): When people ask me, “How are you doing?” I usually just respond with, “I’m ok.” because I’m not doing great usually—and I’m not doing terribly, usually. And it’s satisfactory when people don’t really want to know how you’re doing; it’s just a cordial greeting.
(FEMALE VOICE): So, today I’m definitely a little stressed out about the ever-growing mountain of things I need to get done. But I’m feeling confident that I can—I can do it!
(FEMALE VOICE): I’m feeling desperate to find a new job. I keep thinking it will get better, and it doesn’t and it’s been eighteen years now.
(MALE VOICE): Hey, Kathy. Thanks for asking. I’m doing really well after having the flu twice in 2019, being weak as a kitten, and losing all my climbing fitness and having to postpone all my climbing goals for the year. But I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’m slowly starting to climb again. So, if anybody out there listening is dealing with their own illness and they’re trying to claw their way back to fitness: I encourage you to be patient, allow yourself to rest and heal, don’t worry if you have to come back and climb 5.4—because climbing is rad whether it’s 5.14 or 5.4. So, eventually, you’re going to get back out there and climb again.
(FEMALE VOICE): I’m moving in with my boyfriend today, so I’m at my old house and there’s just a few more boxes to take over and I’m here by myself and I—I actually feel a little bit sad, even though it’s a really exciting time. It’s sort of sad to feel like you might be losing your independence a little bit, and it’s a little bit scary and there’s a lot on my mind. But we’ll just see what happens from here on out.
(FEMALE VOICE): How am I doing? I’m doing ok. But also, I have a lot of responsibility that’s stressing me out and making me anxious. And I’ve been doing some work to be more honest with myself, and as a result, feel exhausted and vulnerable and like I’m about to cry more often than I’d like.
(MALE VOICE): How am I is a hard question to answer for most people, but for me, it’s pretty simple: I’m pissed. I’m pissed at the state of our government. Pissed at my body. Pissed at the fact that I can’t get back into climbing the way I wanna get back into climbing. But I’m also very grateful. So, when I get past those moments, I look at my gratitude for the people that I have around me, for the love that I have in my life, for sunrises, sunsets, moonrises, moonsets, and dogs. And I’m ok.
(FEMALE VOICE): “How am I?” That’s the toughest question for me to answer because it changes on a daily, hourly, minute timeframe. It’s easy to lie about it because there are good things going on in my life, but sometimes when you have time to think, you realize you’re missing out on the things you want most. And that is terrifying, and sometimes you have no fucking clue how to balance that.
(FEMALE VOICE): I’m grateful, and I’m happy to be here sitting on a boat in a beautiful harbor. But I’ve been very depressed, and menopause has been a huge struggle for me and I have a lot of body pain. And it’s hard to see my way out of the heaviness of it all sometimes. I’m naturally a positive person, but this has really kicked me in the ass—and I’m struggling. It’s been a very, very hard time in my life.
(FEMALE VOICE): I’m tired. Tired of feeling alone—of feeling like I have to protect myself all the time. I meet new people and there’s just always something that makes me put up those walls. And I just wish I could let them down.
(MALE VOICE): How am I? (laughs) I guess it depends on the day. Some days, the Paxil works a little better than others. My life, objectively, is pretty amazing. I’m a white male in America and I’m fairly healthy. Sometimes I’m nervous and I’m anxious. I don’t know. How am I?
(FEMALE VOICE): It took me over fifty years, but I think I can actually say I’m happy and content now. I have a new job that I like and recently got remarried to a wonderful man who shares my passions and takes wonderful care of me. Sure, I have bad days and I often worry about my kids up in college—but I can’t complain. I’m still not used to seeing my body aging so quickly, but growing old is better than the alternative. A few years ago, I had a brief brush with cancer that I survived, but my sister didn’t survive hers. Life has been good to me, and I appreciate how fortunate I am.
(MALE VOICE): I’m great, but my body is not so great. I’ve got a raging infection of valley fever in my lungs that has eaten a few large cavities into them. So, sometimes it hurts to breathe and my energy is way down from normal. I’m still getting out to do a lot of the things that I love outside, just a lot less of that.
(MALE VOICE): I feel slightly uncomfortable admitting this since I know not everyone’s in the same place that I am, but I’m actually great! I’ve hit all my climbing bucket list items, you know, like: big walls, big mountains, hard trad leads, good sport flashes, et cetera. I have a successful career doing something I love. I’m happily married. I live in a fantastic area. You know, in short, I’ve lived exactly the kind of life I dreamed of as a young adult. All the great dreams of my life have come true—and for that, I’m incredibly grateful.
(FEMALE VOICE): I’m not doing super great. I’m really angry and jaded right now. I’ve had two incidents this month, back-to-back. One of which was an unexpected pregnancy that ended in abortion, and the other being a climbing accident that ended up either dislocating or breaking my tailbone. So, I don’t know which one yet. And these happened because I trusted people I shouldn’t have. And I’m hoping that the lesson here isn’t that I can’t trust people anymore.
(FEMALE VOICE): Hey, Kathy. I wanted to answer your question, “How are you?” And right now, I’m really frustrated because I’m naive. I just got semi-taken advantage of by an Uber driver on the street who just tried to, like, force me to kiss him which was really strange. And now I’m finding solitude in this cemetery. I think I’m…I think I’m fine. So, this is the third time in a month that a guy has made a sexual advance towards me. And the fact that this has happened so consecutively really makes me question how other people perceive me. Am I naive? Do I have to filter myself, which is so incredibly difficult to do—I don’t want to filter myself. I want to be nice and friendly and open to people and offer some form of vulnerability, but when things like this happen, it makes me want to close myself off. It makes me feel gross, like I’ve given too much to someone because they think that they can act that way towards me. Yeah, so. That’s how I’m feeling right now.
(FEMALE VOICE): How’m I doing? Hm. Thanks for asking, but I really don’t know. A couple of weeks ago, I was in an avalanche after ice climbing. Standing at the base of the climb and there were six of us. I’m lucky to be alive. Two of the women were carried and buried, and we couldn’t get one out in time to save her. I’m going to the memorial service on Saturday in Canada. So, I don’t know how I’m doing. I’m pushing it all down I think and will have to deal with it later.
(MALE VOICE): How am I. How am I, really? Ugh. Exhausted. Tired. Scared. It’s just—being a solo artist doing your own thing—and I know that you know exactly what I’m talking about. Not having something behind you, just doing it all on your own, is just like free soloing all the time. Like, every day you wake up and you look at your email and it’s like starting another pitch. You know? I don’t know. Things go really well and you get super excited, but things don’t go great like a month later, and you don’t have any work and nobody’s buying what you’re selling. And you’re just like, “Ok. It’s that time of the year again when I think about, ‘What should I do instead? Should I go back to school and maybe be a nurse?’” or I don’t know what. Well, anyway. You probably can’t use this, but I’m just saying hi. Hope you’re doing well.
(FEMALE VOICE): Great now!
(MALE VOICE): But you’re shaking and it’s not because you’re cold. It’s because you’re still terrified.
(FEMALE VOICE): I was terrified! I don’t know! I’m terrified of heights. And I was so close to the rock. And every time I looked down, I wanted to throw up.
(FEMALE VOICE): Today, everything feels like a struggle! I had therapy today and I went to a waterfall, but everything feels kind of conflicted. I’m going through a recent breakup and I just don’t really know how to feel. I’m going, looking at the memories and not really knowing how to feel about them. I have a lot of support, but I still feel really alone. And I just feel like I’m too much and not enough at the same time. And I’m trying to be ok with not being ok. That’s me today.
(MALE VOICE): How is one doing? That’s a question easy to dread. Brooding, disappointed and upset about so many things, both within myself and outside in the world that I see going on. How do I feel about it, and what I could change about it? Well, I guess it would matter that first, I could change myself and maybe, by that example that some way, I could change them.
(KK): It can be difficult to pick up the phone and ask for help, but calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always free and confidential. If you experience suicidal thoughts and don’t know who to talk to, call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. That’s 1-800-273-8255 to be connected to a trained counselor at a suicide crisis center nearest you.
Sexual abuse affects children and adults across ethnic, educational, and religious lines. If you or someone you know has been sexually abused, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE.
– Even though I still have no idea what I’m doing—things are happening. And if you’d like to help out and support this podcast, please check out patreon.com (that’s P-A-T-R-E-O-N) where you can sponsor us for as little as $1 per episode. It really helps keep this podcast going, and I’m so grateful for all of your help. Special shout out to Cameron MacAlpine because he makes this thing sound good.
– You’re listening to For the Love of Climbing Podcast. A huge thank you to Deuter, one of the leading backpack brands that will help you hit the trails with confidence and comfort, and a big thank you to Gnarly Nutrition for supporting this podcast and the messages that we share. Gnarly Nutrition supports a community of vulnerability and equality—and tastes like a milkshake, without all the crap. And a big shout out to Roaming Ingenuity, a team of outdoor enthusiasts and tinkerers based out of Fort Collins, Colorado. Support companies who support this podcast—we couldn’t do it without them. If you liked what you heard, you can leave a review on iTunes or give us a like—like all good things, you can find us on the internet. Until next time.
Resources for you and/or loved ones:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or by calling 1-800-273-8255. If you are hard of hearing, you can chat with a Lifeline counselor or contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 800-799-4889. To speak to a crisis counselor in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.
The Trevor Project, is an LGBT crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline and is open 24/7, 365 days a year. The Trevor Project can be reached at 866-4-U-TREVOR. There’s even a list of international resources at http://www.thetrevorproject.org.
The Hopeline Network brings together the knowledge and critical services of existing Crisis Centers all under the net of a toll-free number.
To find local resources in your area, visit To Write Love On Her Arms.
Check out the following stories from people who have been there:
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the United States, its territories, and Canada, the Hotline is staffed twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance in 170 languages. The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous and confidential.
Stop It Now provides a national helpline for adults living in the United States who are concerned for the safety of a child and don’t know what to do. All calls are confidential and will be answered by knowledgeable professionals in the field of child sexual abuse prevention.
RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline, which is free, confidential, and available 24/7/365 in English and Spanish. RAINN works in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. You can call RAINN for guidance and resources in crisis (though call 911 if it’s an emergency), by calling 800.656.HOPE (4673).
Safe Horizon has a free, 24/7/365, confidential national hotline in English and Spanish for domestic violence survivors; rape, incest, abuse, and sexual assault survivors; and victims of other violent crimes. Counselors are available to talk about your situation (whether it’s recent or not), as well as help you figure out the next steps, whether that’s in the form of counseling, legal aid, safety planning, or finding a shelter. They can also help you find in-person counseling, group therapy, legal aid, and other resources. Contact them at 1-800-621-HOPE (4673).
You can report an incident and make available to law enforcement for possible investigation. You can contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children 24 hours a day at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
Laws vary by state–it may be child protective services, a department of family and child services of your county, or law enforcement. Learn more at Darkness to Light, a non-profit committed to empowering adults to prevent child sexual abuse. Their work is guided by the vision of a world free from child sexual abuse, where children can grow up happy, healthy and safe. Darkness to Light exists to empower and educate people to prevent child sex abuse.
Alive & Running is an uplifting, life-affirming event that remembers loved ones lost to suicide while raising funds and awareness for the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center. The first in the nation, the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center is a national and world leader in training, research, and services for people who have thought about, attempted or lost someone to suicide. Their center has a 24/7 English/Spanish Crisis Line (1-800-273-TALK) that takes calls from around the United States and is the back-up for crisis centers throughout California. It is also one of only three in the U.S. that answers calls on the National Disaster Distress Helpline.