‘I CLIMBED MY WAY OUT OF DEPRESSION'
Outdoor Fitness Adventure|January 2020
Thomas Palmer was suffering from anxiety and felt unable to leave the house. Then, he was inspired to climb multiple mountains despite having no previous climbing experience. He tells Christina Neal how he turned his life around…
Christina Neal

Twenty-nine-year-old Thomas is from London and works as a cameraman and video producer. After witnessing Ross Edgley’s record-breaking 1,780-mile Great British Swim, he realised that the human body is capable of much more than we think. While working as a cameraman documenting Ross’s amazing feat, Thomas was inspired to climb some of Columbia’s highest mountains, including the mighty Ritacuba Blanco, which stands at an altitude of 5,410 metres. Despite having no previous climbing experience, he climbed five mountains in total (Galeras, Cumbal Volcano, Puracé, Nevado del Tolima and Ritacuba Blanco). Here, he shares his incredible story…

What’s your sporting background like?

Growing up, the gym became my friend and, when I was 18 years old, I took up boxing. The gym and boxing became a support system for me to keep going when times were tough.

When did you first experience anxiety?

I first experienced anxiety at around the age of 21. I thought I was sick because I felt so dizzy all the time. When I finally tried to make it to the doctor, I couldn’t. I curled up in a ball on the main high street. When I eventually got to the GP, he explained to me what anxiety was and how I’d probably been hyperventilating for days. At the age of 25, I experienced a six-month period of deep depression and it just would not leave. I managed to climb my way back out of this period with the help of friends, family and therapy.

Last year, after a succession of things happening all at once – death of a family member, breakdowns of relationships, loss of housing and total loss of direction – l fell into a very dark place. I slept most of the time as it was better than being awake and when I was awake my body was in constant fight-or-flight mode, like a deer caught in the headlights. I’d totally lost control of my mind and I dived into a cycle of negative thinking about myself.

I began using the gym to an extreme extent – I’m talking about three sessions a day – just so that I could get the feel-good hit and I vowed never to return to that place again.

What was the inspiration behind doing mountain climbing?

The inspiration for starting the challenge came from Ross Edgley, who I filmed swimming around the UK. I couldn’t help but become more positive during this time. I started to think that maybe I could try an adventure. The Great British Swim event and my involvement with it probably saved my life. What it inspired me to do – to attempt Colombia’s top mountains – has changed me into the most positive and grateful person ever.

Why the mountains?

I’ve genuinely never had any mountaineering experience, and maybe that’s part of the reason why to put myself in the most uncomfortable position I could. We all know we find growth in difficult places. The mountains just hold a certain type of mystery; a magic. After being in the depths of depression, the only place I wanted to head was upwards.

You talk of your ‘physical limitations’ – what were they?

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM OUTDOOR FITNESS ADVENTUREView All

PUTTING THE TRAINING HOURS IN

Are your training goals ambitious? How can you find time to work out when you have a busy job and a family, yet want to train hard and long? Personal trainer Jeff Archer has some advice on finding the right balance

5 mins read
Outdoor Fitness Adventure
January 2020

SECRETS OF THE 100 MARATHON CLUB

Just how do the members of this small but high ly prestigious club, some of whom have run over 500 marathons, race 26.2 miles or more, week in, week out? Lisa Jackson finds out

6 mins read
Outdoor Fitness Adventure
January 2020

HIKING HOLIDAYS TO BOOST MENTAL HEALTH

While hiking is a wonderful way to get fit, it is also noted for its benefits for mental wellbeing.

4 mins read
Outdoor Fitness Adventure
January 2020

‘I CLIMBED MY WAY OUT OF DEPRESSION'

Thomas Palmer was suffering from anxiety and felt unable to leave the house. Then, he was inspired to climb multiple mountains despite having no previous climbing experience. He tells Christina Neal how he turned his life around…

8 mins read
Outdoor Fitness Adventure
January 2020

DON'T BE A FAIR-WEATHER CYCLIST

British pro cyclist Alex Dowsett, a six-time national time trial champion and former hour world record holder, reveals how to stay motivated to keep cycling in winter.

4 mins read
Outdoor Fitness Adventure
January 2020

MICRO-RUNNING ADVENTURES

You don’t have to go on a grand expedition to have fun on the run – here are quirky ways to rev up your running mojo that will add a dash of excitement to your training.

5 mins read
Outdoor Fitness Adventure
January 2020

DARK SKY ADVENTURES

locations are areas where the sky at night is unaffected by light pollution from big cities, enabling us to have a much clearer view of the stars Angela Youngman explains where they are and how to combine viewing them with outdoor exercise

5 mins read
Outdoor Fitness Adventure
January 2020

BRAVING THE WATER IN WINTER

We often associate surfing with summer, but many UK surfers happily do it all year round. With the right kit and a little winter sun, it’s an invigorating and fun activity, says Ruth Pocock

4 mins read
Outdoor Fitness Adventure
January 2020

Get Confident In The Mountains

Taking a Mountain Leader course isn’t just for those who want to do it for a living – if you enjoy exploring the mountains, you’ll feel more confident and safer if you undertake this training.

4 mins read
Outdoor Fitness Adventure
January 2020

15 Ways To Be A Better Runner

Whether you’re hoping to run faster, further or simply increase your motivation, Christina Neal has these top tips on how to improve your running

5 mins read
Outdoor Fitness Adventure
January 2020
RELATED STORIES

Apocalyptic Scenarios and Inner Worlds

A Conversation with Gloria Susana Esquivel

10+ mins read
World Literature Today
Winter 2021

FIGHT TO DEATH WITH ESCOBAR'S COCAINE HIPPOS!

Drug king’s escaped pets have bred and are now threatening Colombia’s swamps

2 mins read
Globe
February 08, 2021

Around the World by SCOOTER AND SIDECAR

On October 21, 2017, I found myself rid ing off from London’s iconic Ace Cafe on a Honda SH300i scooter with sidecar. Beside me was my childhood pal, Reece Gilkes. Our destination was the exact spot we were departing from, as the plan was to be the first to ride around the world on a scooter and s idecar.

5 mins read
Adventure Motorcycle (ADVMoto)
January - February 2021

Caribbean Coral Reefs in Danger of Extinction

“Te world's coral reefs, one of the ocean's most beautiful marine habitats, is in danger of extinction because of dramatic increases in coral diseases caused by climate change and warmer waters”.

4 mins read
ArtTour International Magazine
Fall 2020

hungry hungry hippos

IN 1981, NOTORIOUS drug lord Pablo Escobar imported four hippos from Africa to his estate near Medellín, Colombia. After his death in 1993, the herd meandered into the nearby Magdalena River.

1 min read
Popular Science
Winter 2020

PILOT PROJECTS

SHOWCASING WHAT YOU BUILD & FLY

2 mins read
Model Airplane News
October 2020

LOCKPICKING101

An Introduction to Bypassing Locks in Situations Where Your Life Could Depend on It

8 mins read
OFFGRID
Issue 36

The Minerals Of Pre-Columbian America

Examining the appeal and prevalence of gold and jade story

10+ mins read
Rock&Gem Magazine
April 2020

Allure Of Cartagena

Discover the Caribbean charms of Colombia’s coastal city.

3 mins read
Global Traveler
November 2019

Lorena Sarria

Lorena Sarria is an emerging actress from Colombia whose early experiences performing in multinational films are helping her expand into the American movie and television industry.

1 min read
The Platform Magazine
September 2019