Today’s Star columnist: Dr Mary Wren - Climbing our own mountains

UGC Columnist Dr Mary Wren.
UGC Columnist Dr Mary Wren.
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I love climbing mountains – seeing the view as you get higher and the achievement of reaching the top.

As I climbed in the Peak district recently I thought about how we all have different mountains to climb in our lives.

It may be a mountain of serious or terminal illness, or chronic illness or endless pain. It may be the mountain of finding a job or resolving debt. Whatever the mountain, I think we can learn from the physical mountaineering.

I started thinking about the time and perseverance and patience taken to climb Mount Everest. No-one would expect to climb it in one go. The climbers go a stage at a time, sometimes up and down again at different levels before the final push to the top. It is the same with illness or pain – if we just do the next day or the next step then it is easier than trying to overcome everything all at once.

Then there is the fact that a person needs a team around them to climb – it would be foolish to go alone. We also need people around us when we are climbing our mountains of pain or illness. Accept help – don’t be too proud to receive from others. Talking helps, so tell people how you feel and what you need. It may be helpful to find out support groups or societies available-the internet or Citizen’s Advice Bureau can be helpful here. And for those of us who are well, let’s watch out for our neighbours and friends who need support.

Climbers need to rest too. Sometimes it is important to stop and take stock. Sometimes we need to stop looking at the mountain and look at the view. If we always focus on our illness or pain everything becomes distorted– so maybe a funny DVD or a trip to a coffee shop, a ride into the Peak District or even just a visit to another person’s house can provide a new perspective on things.

Climbing is exhausting so we need to take care of what we can. Maybe changing our diets, sleeping more, choosing to let go of anger or bitterness and looking for good in things may all help ease the overall burden on our bodies. And don’t forget the benefit of laughter.

So if you are climbing a mountain today, have hope and persevere. Some of the strongest, most inspiring people have climbed huge mountains.