It’s OK To Say: ‘How support and faith helped me climb Kilimanjaro’

Stacey Turner with her daughters Emily and Molly.

Stacey Turner with her daughters Emily and Molly. - Credit: Archant

In the wake of her recent climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, It’s OK To Say founder Stacey Turner reflects on the support she has received and the reasons behind the campaign.

Peter Varnavas from Precious Soles in Potters Bar with Stacey Turner.

Peter Varnavas from Precious Soles in Potters Bar with Stacey Turner. - Credit: Archant

Why am I doing this? I just want to make a difference, I want to inspire more conversation surrounding mental health and reassure people that it is perfectly normal and okay to reach out and wrap yourself in the support you need to help you make a difference in your life - no matter what it is!

When I set out with the intention to climb Kilimanjaro, I never thought I would be going so supported and when I say supported, I don't just mean financially.

My first official sponsorship came from Precious Soles in Potters Bar, Peter Varnavas wanted to arrange something meaningful, so together with Ecco Shoes and Orthosole, fitted and gifted my expedition boots, orthotic insoles and socks. When my Mountain Warehouse parcel arrived containing my clothes, it felt unbelievable that such a big company were happy to support my little mission. My sunglasses from EYES On St Albans in Marshalswick were another gorgeous gift, I lived in them just as much as my boots and Mountain Warehouse clothes!

I'd like to say a special thank you to Russell from Purely Personalised in Radlett, I approached Russell to personalise the group's hoodies and he did so within 48 hours with delivery, the service was wonderful and very much appreciated at a time I was nervous and overwhelmed. Everyone's sponsorship, support and encouragement made me so emotional - I was totally blown away and took it all along with me.

All of this support helped me in moments of desperation.

I had plenty of moments daily where I found it hard both physically and mentally. In those moments, rather than struggle on, I was honest about what was happening and asked for help from the guides, porters and the group's medic.

Most Read

It is a long journey, to get to the top, I adapted myself with help. In moments of desperation (and there were many!) I drew on the support I had behind me.

Getting to Tanzania had taken up the best part of nine months, it was a slow, yet progressive time with many setbacks, planning and fundraising.

I'd reflect on how far I'd come, the people that had become part of my journey and my personal accomplishment.

Actually making it was huge, as within that period, six months was taken up with being in and out of hospital five times with two surgeries, one of which was major, complications both times and finally, sepsis!

I almost deferred a year when suddenly I started turning a corner within my recovery, building myself up and receiving the go-ahead from my surgeon and GP. Together with this mountain of support, there I was trekking to reach Uhuru Peak. Summit night, I could hear the whispers of everyone's words and with that, was I only successful - it was truly a magical experience.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is much like facing everyday difficulties, like living with stress and anxiety.

You must admit that it is going to be tough with the ever-changing terrain and ask yourself - what can I put in place to support this?

Accept it, be honest and ask for help. Healing from anything no matter how small is not linear, it's very much like the Machame route, you trek high and sleep low.

Adjusting to life with help and support is much like the harsh knocks of altitude, one day you can feel amazing and the next, you're smothered in a blanket of nausea or vomiting over the side of a rock! Getting through the days and weeks can seem like an endless journey, so you must draw on the support and adjust yourself, listen to your body telling you what it needs, create balance and set boundaries.

Most importantly, believe you CAN, have faith that everything will be OK and be hopeful for your desired outcome - with HELP!