I'm James Pearson, a trad climber from the UK, 34 years old but still pretending to be 15! Although it never seems this long, I've been climbing for almost 20 years and 16 of them as a professional climber! I recently became a father to a little boy, Arthur, and along with my wife Caroline, we're doing our best to raise him well and show him some of the wonders of this crazy world.
To one extent or another, my whole life is built around climbing. First and foremost, it is a passion, but it's also the base of my social circle: how I earn my living, and a big part of my self-identity. When I'm climbing well, things feel like they really flow, and I understand my place in the world. Inversely, when things don't go to plan for one reason or another, I often feel lost and directionless.
Despite suffering several injuries over the last ten years, I'm always surprised at how quickly and deep depression can set if you are not expecting it. As a young climber, I had only suffered some small finger injuries, but my body really started to take a beating when I began training more seriously, after meeting Caroline at 25. Whether it was simply part of getting older or trying to sustain an amount of training my body had never been accustomed to, injuries became a more regular part of my climbing life. Fingers, Shoulders, Knees, Ankles… nothing that could be called severe in a "regular" person's life, but enough to stop a climber in their tracks!
During these times, when things look bleak, and pain is a near-constant friend, it can be hard to imagine life feeling good again. Climbing; something that used to bring you peace, comfort, and joy transforms into pain and sadness, and a reminder of everything you are missing. It is easy to tell yourself that it will get better, maybe you have even experienced this before and know first-hand, but acknowledging this or believing it overtime can get harder. The longer the time that passes, the more distant recovery seems.
Take this time, though, as an opportunity, a time to do things that interest you but have been hard to fit in around your dedication to climbing. The important thing is not what you do, but why you do it, and I have learned that filling your mind with positive thoughts and feelings can only help your body on its journey towards healing. Then one day, sometime in the future, you'll realize you don't have pain anymore. Time and your body have done their work, helping to distance your mind from the negative feelings and focusing on other things that bring pleasure to your life.
I want to share this because I think it's important to hear that you aren't alone if you are experiencing these feelings of injury and recovery depression, I know for me hearing others talk about this was helpful.