I hiked through granite outcroppings with friends yesterday. It was very hot, some parts were very steep, and one of my new PTSD experiences is a bit of vertigo/limitations on depth perception when looking down, particularly if I’m hiking. It comes and goes, but seems to occur more with anxiety. Sometimes it happens when I walk downstairs, and the end result is that I am not nearly as steady on my feet as I would like to be.
As we climbed up a rain-made gully, I was aware that coming back down would not be easy for me. The hike up was steep, I am not at a fitness level with which I feel confident in exerting myself in climbing across rocks and my muscles were cranky at having to work. I used my hands a lot, leaning forward, using all of my body to balance with a hiking backpack and water loading me down a bit.
I just read an article last week about when to push yourself and when to back off with anxiety. If you feel uncomfortable, push yourself. If you feel real fear, back off. I probably crossed a lot into fear, because this was really intimidating to me, but I climbed up the granite faces and made my way to the top with my friends one bit at a time.
Coming down was hard. Way harder than going up.
With a real fear of my feet slipping and sending me tumbling down and vision and perception issues, it was hell getting back down off that rock. We were a few hundred feet up, it was getting hot enough that the rock burned my hands as I climbed down backward rather than go down forwards, and I had to mentally stay present with where I was instead of worrying about what was ahead. At one point my phone fell out of the pack and my screen is now shattered in two places.
But I did it.
I used my hands and feet and yoga practice to balance and support myself as I descended in the way I knew was safest for me. I don’t have the muscle right now to support a more bold approach, but I did have the strength to let myself down over the steep rock faces in a way that challenged my body and held to its limitations. It felt so good to get back on the main trail, where it was another mile back through the burning sun to the condo.
And I did it.
I was so proud of myself for pushing though something that made me really uncomfortable and managing my fear and anxiety so that I could accomplish something that I initially didn’t think I could do.