After my first two runs at Mammoth last weekend, I was already feeling way more confident and comfortable than I did several weeks into the previous seasons on the twin planks. I skied harder and longer than I ever do this early into the season, and have more mileage under my belt in three days on the twin planks than I probably did in a month last season. Heck, I've even been feeling confident enough that the top/face of the mountain looks tempting... when we get more snow! That right there is crazy talk in itself, since anyone who knows me knows that dropping in off the top makes my heart race a bit too much. I think it's saying something that I'm feeling this good this early in the season. Last season felt really off for me until about three or four months into the season. This season, I'm three days, in and it feels amazing. That being said, there are some demons that are rearing their ugly head...
PTSD. On skis.
Everyone seems to think I'm fine being back on skis and having been on skis for what is now going to be four seasons. I think I'm just getting better at hiding how I'm doing. Yes, I'm so grateful to be skiing again and I LOVE skiing, but I can't shake what happened and coping with it. There's no real rhyme or reason for when it hits - yes, sometimes it's obvious, like when I see or read about someone falling off a chairlift - but it's there. Some days, it's just being on a chair lift. Some days, it's just the thought of what could happen with a serious fall while skiing (on the slopes, not on the lift). It's terrifying at times. It destroys my confidence at times. It takes the fun out of skiing at times.
It never seems to leave, always lingering in the background. No matter how much I've talked about it. No matter how much I've dealt with it. No matter how much I've been able to accomplish on skis since becoming bionic. It's there.
PTSD hit hard at the beginning of last season. I think that's why I struggled most of last season. I was in my head when skiing and not having the fun I should be having and deserved to be having. It took several months to really start feeling confident, but when it happened, I was having a blast on the slopes. I even skied a lot of crazy lines I never thought I'd ski... and they were AMAZING! Yes, there were times that it came back and kicked my ass. Ask Dave and Carolyn how long I stood at the top of Scotty's last season before dropping in! I skied it beautifully, but not until I stood at the top of it so long that I almost turned around and didn't ski it.
Dealing with what happened to me was a beast in itself. Dealing with the lingering mental aftermath of it is a whole different beast... still. Some days are good. Some days are bad. Some days I can rip it up on the slopes. Some days are terrifying and they just become mileage days on the twin planks. It's part of life, and I'm still learning to deal with it. I overcame the beast that was what physically happened to me. I plan to overcome the mental beast too. It's easier to fix the physical side of things than the mental side of things, but I'm up for the challenge, and I think this season is the season to do it. Here's to hoping this is the season...
One final note. While recently talking with a good friend, who also has her own "ouchiversary", she had this to say regarding the demons: "They are, after all, the reason we are who we are today. More cautious at times, perhaps. But more thankful, more experienced in adversity, and wiser, as well." I completely agree.