A few thoughts on looking after our own? Depression, Suicide , Cancer, Alzheimer’s.

Some may think this is a strange post for me to write but over the years sadly some of the same things keep happening. I noticed many years ago that lovers of the outdoor tough men and woman though they were seemed to have a lot of mental health problems. Sadly a few have committed suicide and over the years the toll is rising! In my days the saying “big boys and girls do not cry” were the normal and we rarely spoke about problems especially on mental health. Things like,depression,like Cancer, Alzheimer  and other illness were rarely talked about. Yet you could break an arm or leg on the hill after a fall and you got sympathy and attention . The hidden killers were the unseen, depression, mental illness etc. Nowadays we do talk about it, yet do we really look after our pals friends and family. Do we ask the right questions when we see friends suffering and give them advice of where to get help love and care?  Many have spent their lives in Mountain Rescue helping others and risking or lives on occasions for folk we never knew or will never meet. Yet our mates whom were with us on all these events may now need help and yet we find it difficult to speak to them?

As many get older and especially those who in their prime were talented in their field whatever it was as their physical powers fade many cannot cope. You can still do so much but maybe not at the level of a 20 year old but you have to accept changes with age. I feel that their are some who struggle with this, they do not get the adrenaline flowing and miss the hit of constant training and fitness. Age catches up hips, back, knees and other medical issues kick in, its part of the aging process.  They get depressed and instead of still getting out and maybe doing things a bit slower  and enjoying new activities, the run down starts. They miss the hit of the mountains or their sport yet it can still all be there just by being out and about with nature? To some it seems if they are not the best the fittest, the strongest then I am not doing it. Sadly what a loss to your souls and your body and especially your  mind.

My advice is still to get out there have a different aspect of what you can achieve. Try a walk into the great cliffs visit the wild places, spend time, push yourself and maybe you will see more than you think. The days of rushing around are gone but every time i get out it is a new world to me. I feel that  every season is different, every view changing and those niggles with the body and the “tin man”  legs” can still get you out and about. Yes it hurts at times but I still get my hit from being out.

Nature is the best medicine, breathe her air, feel  the changes in the weather, the seasons, the plants birds and wild life. Let nature get it in your face and let the sunshine recharge you. Let the rain and wind help you blow away your aches and pains. Get out there and live, your as young as you feel and then when after exercise it’s all worth it.

Dealing with Dementia ?

Over the last 10 years I have met a lot of friends who are suffering from memory loss and as it gets worse so does their daily life. Yet when I speak to them about things the love be it the mountains the wild, sport or anything that they enjoyed, most people come alive again. We all know folk we can help and some of my best nights have been with some of Scotland finest folk who have huge memory loss and Alzheimer’s. At times they cannot remember their name or what they ate for lunch but can speak about the mountains a climb a hill and you will get a tale that may inspire you. It may be a football match that rekindles them but to see the joy and the smile on their face is a reward that makes it all worth it. The detail they can come up with is incredible and there is true joy again in their hearts. Many of the families do not understand our love of the hills and climbs yet we have a special bond with so many that we can use to share our experiences and bring some joy to many.

So what I am trying to say lets help each other a bit more, we all know folk from every sphere who could do with some help, its not easy but it has great rewards. We have a great community of lovers of the wild places whatever we do and lets try to re – build some memories for those who are struggling.  Comments welcome

A friend put this out it is what we all need to do to help.

“My door is always open, kettle on, sofa warm, and my home is a place of non judgement. Any of my friends who need to chat, or just be, are welcome anytime. Don’t ever suffer in silence. I’ve got tea & coffee, milk & sugar, (wine if something stronger is needed).

You are never not welcome!! #DarknessIntoLight

Could at least one friend, please copy and paste this?

I’m trying to demonstrate that someone is always listening!”




Comments welcome ?

From Pete Kirkpatrick –

“Piglet?” said Pooh.

“Yes Pooh?” said Piglet.”

Do you ever have days when everything feels… Not Very Okay At All. And sometimes you don’t even know why you feel Not Very Okay At All.

Piglet nodded his head sagely. “Oh yes,” said Piglet.

Really?” said Pooh in surprise. “I would never have thought that. You always seem so happy and like you have got everything in life all sorted out.“

Ah,” said Piglet. ” There are two things that you need to know, Pooh. The first thing is that those people, who seem to have got everything in life all sorted out… they probably haven’t and everyone has days when they feel Not Very Okay At All. Some people are just better at hiding it than others.

And the second thing you need to know… is that it’s okay to feel Not Very Okay At All. It can be quite normal, in fact. And all you need to do, on those days when you feel Not Very Okay At All, is come and find me, and tell me. Don’t ever feel like you have to hide the fact you’re feeling Not Very Okay At All. Always come and tell me. Because I will always be here.


About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Enviroment, Family, Health, Hill running and huge days!, medical, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to A few thoughts on looking after our own? Depression, Suicide , Cancer, Alzheimer’s.

  1. Pete kay says:

    Nice one Hevs, we all have shit to deal with. There is no such thing as a perfect life, job, existence. Some deal with it better than others and some have no idea what real tragedy is or the lasting impact it has. We should engage more I agree, but unfortunately it’s not the nature of the beast that drives troops and ex-troops. Guys like you shoving it in people’s faces helps, but u can’t change a life times behaviour in a parsec. As for the age thing, I adopt the “kick the ass out it today tomorrow might not happen” attitude, or if it does might be on a much reduced scale.

    Keep banging out the blogs mate, every now again one hits home. Enjoy your bike ride, I’ll be thinking of you when I’m wetting myself on some gritstone Vdiff. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Al Rose says:

    Thanks Heavy, great post. Mental health is something we all have and we need to look after each other more.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Cameron McNeish says:

    Thanks for that Heavy. I fully concur with the ageing thing. You have to adapt or it will tear you apart. I’ve gone beyond the first phase – feeling depressed about it. I now do what I can and do you know what? I’ve re-discovered a childlike joy in exploring different parts of the hill, or the forest, or coastline. The important point is that summits are no longer my priority! I can’t backpack any more but I’m really enjoying my bikepacking. Still loads to discover and enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here but out on bike every day I watched a lot of your programs o catch up they are special love the stories behind the journeys.
      It took this lock down to emphasise how lucky we have been.
      Stay well and fit.

      I also have been speaking to a few old famous climbers with dementia. It’s amazing when you talk about a climb or a route how alive they become.

      We are lucky we have had a Golden age and now have to enjoy life at a slower pace.

      Will pop in and see you

      Thanks for the comment.

      Wee blog had hit over a million hits!


  4. Bill Rose says:

    Taught to trek hills at stalkers pace taking time to see what was all around and observe the wildlife. Life as you get older is at stalkers pace. You do not have to venture far to see and enjoy the wonderful world we live in. Many people at the moment discovering so much to see rekax and enjoy close to home. Easy on your well being. Easy on the planet.


  5. John Armstrong says:

    Great blog Heavy, I have been retired now for 12 years and once oor world gets back to a wee of normality, I hope to get back out “onto” the hill and get some fitness back. It is great here just now with little traffic so out on the bike most day, not looking forward to the “500” starting back up.
    take care and stay safe


  6. Ian V says:

    You’re a legend Hevs, and so is Jim M, great photos, love them. Family V are all good mate, currently tucked away in Englandshire, Suffolk to be precise and enjoying the slow pace and countryside. Unfortunately only spent little over a year when I was back in Scotland 14/15. I cold called a couple of times at Burghead, once with Charlie M but unfortunately we didn’t manage to catch up. I think on one of the occasions you might have been hiding behind the curtains🤣

    Liked by 1 person

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