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Starting over

Published by Don Gilman on

I don’t know how to begin this post, which is ironic, since it is all about starting over. Depression sucks like that. Just robs me of my creative abilities, which, when I am at my best, are formidable. But when I am down, like I am today, I just can’t find the words. I will try.

Everything in my life right now seems to be about starting from square one. So much symbolism in that. I am taking a break from school. For one year. I am beginning this Climb to the Light project. I started it with nothing but an idea, a notion. My partner, Brook, and I split up a year ago. A couple months ago she abruptly left St. George with our two kids and moved back to Oregon. I had a pretty nice car but my friend gave me a less-nice (but more suitable) car, so I sold my nicer one and I am going to restore the not-as-nice one. Makes sense, right?

Actually, my new, not-as-nice car is a perfect symbol of my life. I bought it for a dollar. It has a lot of problems that need to be fixed. It’s OK looking, but not as nice as the one I just sold. But there is something very intriguing about taking this beat-up old car and creating the perfect vehicle for my outdoor adventures. Part by part, piece by piece, fixing it up, restoring it and making into something new and even better than what it was to begin with. Like me, this car needs some love and attention to make it into something more.

Climb to the Light is also like the car. It started as a notion, an idea, a challenge to do something big, something bigger than I have ever done before. Initially it was just going to be a personal challenge. Climb a peak a week. It’s not a huge stretch for me. I often climb a mountain every week, but generally they are smaller mountains in the immediate vicinity of St. George. But then it become something more. Doing it to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention. I started it with nothing, but thanks to the generous donations, we have raised enough money to get this off the ground. But like the car, and myself, we have a long way to go.

I’ve been single now for the longest time since I was in my 20s. But that is a good thing. At my age (almost 48), I don’t feel like I can take much more heartache in my life. I’ve consistently struggled to be in a healthy relationship. Most of my partnerships (until my last one) lasted around 2-3 years. Much of this is my fault. I’m a hot mess in many ways. But now I have this opportunity to resolve some of my longstanding mental and emotional health issues. I think this is extremely important. I do very much want to share my life with someone, but she has to be the right person. Because I have such poor self-esteem, I tend to settle for the first person who shows interest in me. I need to find the right person.

This is all very scary. But it is also very powerful. I can create my world how I want it to be. And that, more than anything, keeps me moving forward, and makes me excited for the future.


Don Gilman

Don Gilman has been climbing mountains for 20 years, beginning with an ascent of Mt. Thielsen in Oregon in 1998. He has been dealing with severe depression and suicidal ideation since he was nine years old. He also deals with PTSD and anxiety on a daily basis, and uses climbing as a form of therapy. In 2014, he woke up to find his then-13-year-old son had hung himself. Fortunately, his son survived, but that event has become the motivating factor that has made suicide prevention the most important cause in his life.

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