Post Traumatic Growth

Nearly everyone has heard of Post Traumatic Stress as PTSD and often affiliated with veterens of war. Much fewer know about what is called Post Traumatic Growth.

This is a short account of why I ‘hope’ I have this condition

Post Traumatic Growth (PTG), from WikiPedia,

“refers to positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity”…

“greater appreciation of life; changed sense of priorities; warmer, more intimate relationships; greater sense of personal strength; and recognition of new possibilities or paths for one’s life and spiritual development.”

2014 was a pretty bad year for me. With a lot of personal things going on, I really focused on climbing, which had already been a huge part of my life for well over 20 years. I spent that summer primarily bolting routes in the newly acquired Miller Fork Recreational Preserve that the RRGCC had purchased. It was hot, sweaty, and dirty, but allowed me time to really reflect. accident collage

Then on Sept 26, 2014, I had my first “real” climbing accident that nearly stopped all of the pain.

I was working one of the steepest, most difficult climbs at the Motherlode, called “The Madness” 5.13c. I had been making quite good progress over the past few weeks and I wanted it to be my 1500 redpoint in the Red River Gorge. Marking it as a personal milestone.

As I was being lowered from the anchors, after climbing it once again trying to put sections together and learn the beta, I was lowered off the end of the rope, falling 40’ to the ground. I broke my back and right wrist. Somehow, I didnt injure any soft tissue. No knee, ankle, finger, head, neck, shoulder, hip injuries. A full account of the accident is http://blakebowling.com/close-the-system/

When the accident happened in Sept, I was living part time with friends in Lexington, and working at an engineering firm. It was difficult to get around in the winter conditions, with a fractured back, broken arm in a sling and it had really started getting to me. My friends that I was living with were the greatest. Simply awesome. I tried not to interrupt their lives while I was there, and they took me in with open arms, literally.

I learned about soccer, how to make beer, to play cribbage, and how playing Mario Cart can be a fun drinking game. Plus nearly nighty Settlers of Catan games were the highlight of the days. Really being with and truly getting to know great friends better is something I had not done for many years. I had my own life, house, farm, and family. I pictured it as a ven diagram, with 3 overlapping circles; Work, Home, Climbing. I thought I did a great job keeping them equal. Focusing attention, time, money, and energy sufficiently as needed. I was wrong. Living in the now, with great friends, and wanting to know about them, know their interests, and making a truly special connection that would have never been if I wasn’t in the situation I was in.

I began to notice this, and set out to be different…to be better.

With the winter of 2014 in full effect, and my climbing life was basically in jeopardy, my personal life in total shambles, and my business taking a hit due to my inability to really work, I decided that the new year will be a milestone and truly be the dawn of a new me. The night of Dec 31st was like many others. I feel asleep, woke at about 3am due to my back seizing, and got up to stretch, walk around, and loosen it up again so I could return to sleep sometime around 5am. The difference this morning, was that I woke with a near smile on my face. New year, new attitude.

It was a fairly long road to recovery, but my arm healed much faster than the doctors expected. I was back to working out some December, onsighted 5.12a in early January, and was bouldering V6 in early February. Deep V Diving

On Jan 2nd, I found a distance acquaintance on Facebook whom is a badass climber and henna artist. I messaged her to see if she would do a design on my newly healed wrist, showcasing the scar and symbolizing a new beginning. She said yes, and an appointment was made.


The design process was the most therapeutic evening I had ever had. I sat in a chair, warmed by a fireplace in downtown Cincinnati, having this amazing artist as a captive audience to unleash my story upon. All while she designed and applied henna on my arm. She drew a “2015 Eye of Protection”, and I asked why I haven’t gotten a 2014 version.

She had been out of climbing for a few years, but was thinking of getting back into it. She and I star training together in the gym and I slowly started getting stronger, happier, and just better.

Fast forward a few months and I’m back as physically strong as ever, and giving the Madness runs, currently making it past the last bolt, just not quite to the anchors yet. Personal life is forward facing, and looking better every day.

Im now rebuilding the interior of my van, installing a new floor, then rebuilding cabinets, kitchen, and bed. Im planning on traveling the country, climbing, programming, and soaking up every drop of life that is possible. And I try to keep my henna artist very close by.