That time I had a mental breakdown atop a hotel

There’s never been anything I couldn’t mentally do.

And then a few weeks ago I found myself standing atop an 18-storey hotel sobbing into my tour guide’s chest.

Yeah, I’m a wimp. Wanna fight about it? I’m only beginning to understand this, turns out. I’ve ridden my high horse from Vancouver to Peru this past year, conquering fears while rock climbing on cliff faces and inside gyms, and generally laughing in death’s face while being tossed around white-water rapids in a dinghy.

I’ve always said it’s not the height that freaks me when flying, but the lack of control. I have fear of equipment malfunction, or something. A complete lack of faith.

But I’ve always just done it.

MOST of these awesome people made it

That day, I found myself on top of the Tryp Quebec Hotel PUR, with the opportunity to décalade down the side of the hotel. It SOUNDS like rappelling, but it’s not: you’re actually facing the ground, and your body is fully extended.

I figured I’d calm down after being all geared up.

I went through my own safety demonstration with the guides. I crowded around the edge of the hotel roof. One-by-one, volunteers began making their way down the side. Even the big, burly men were clearly terrified: they sat on the edge of that roof trying to slide their feet forward but being unable to take their eyes off the bottom. One-by-one, they all made their way down.

People on the rooftop of other buildings took pictures. Folks in the streets paused to watch. And those brave souls just walked straight down the side of that hotel like it was nothin’.

Rockin’ it!

I wasn’t the only one crying. The only difference is that I freaking lost it, and could not control the sobs coming out of my mouth. I stood up there for hours trying to gather myself, while some of the group even came back for thirds…and FOURTHS! Their big grins and ecstatic energy told me what I was missing out on.

One friendly guide in particular walked me through the procedure THREE TIMES to explain how the gear held up. They hugged me, reassured me, and were generally AMAZING about the whole thing. And finally when they strapped me in and pushed me to the edge of the hotel, and I dangled my boots over the side, I was gripped with the most blind panic I’ve ever felt in my life.

NO NO NO NO NO! I just kept it saying over and over again, until the guide eased me back off the roof. I unhooked, ditched my gear, and ran to my hotel room without evening saying “SEE YA!” to my awesome guides.

Yeah, this is what I dealt with.

Damn, you guys. I totally failed. Will I deal with it next time? Will there be a next time? Who knows. I’m okay with being a pansy though, even if I missed that adrenaline rush.

Thanks to the décalade team for being so freaking awesome! And for patiently dealing with my whining. And for all the hugs. I loved the hugs.

Despite my wimpiness, if you ever get a chance to do something like this, FREAKING DO IT. Then call me up and laugh in my face. I’m okay with it.

  • April 18 2012
    Yellow Jacket

    Its ok Candice *hugz*.
    I too could once climb ladders and stare down rooftops as if it were natural. But having one bad experience has put me off for many years. even attempting such things makes me freak out.
    You are a brave soul and I give ya an A for effort :)

    PS: I am tempted to try the CN tower roof walk to tell my vertigo to kindly fuck off.
    So if ya wanna give it another whirl, lemme know.

    • April 18 2012

      Dare I ask…what was the incident?!

      Yeah, probably couldn’t do the tower walk. Lol!

  • April 18 2012

    You’re awesome. I’m a wimp, too.

  • April 18 2012

    Oh man! I don’t think I could do it. Maybe if I was facing up instead of down. It’s envisioning the drop that does me in.

    • April 18 2012

      Yeah! I figure that’s why I couldn’t deal…at least if you’re going down backwards, you’re not looking at the ground you’ll be smashing into.

  • April 18 2012

    No, no no, a hundred times no. Going backwards, maybe. But I would not be able to do it while looking down. I also have no desire to ever bungee jump or skydive, and I’m totally okay with that. Sure, hearing other people talk about how awesome something like that is, it might feel like I’m missing out. But if I’m that scared, it might not be awesome for me, so really all I’m missing out on is being terrified and miserable. Or….at least that’s what I tell myself to feel better about it.

    • April 18 2012

      man, i actually had that included in my original post. I hate the “do one thing each day that scares you” bullshit. Unless it’s a fear that actually keeps you from living your life, who cares? Not like it’s gonna drastically improve my life. I’ll probably forget about it in a week.

  • April 18 2012
    Adventurous Kate

    Candice, FUCK. I saw this on The Amazing Race a few years back — people were crying, shrieking, and I said to myself, “No fucking way, no fucking how, fuck that, let’s get drunk instead.” so don’t feel bad. I would have done the same thing.

    • April 18 2012

      Oh man, now I totally don’t feel bad if it was part of the amazing race! Hahaha. So glad I’m in the same boat.

  • April 18 2012

    Umm…I totally understand.

    Because I would have had a major panic attack too. Kudos for giving it a shot girl!!

    Cathy Trails

    • April 18 2012

      Thanks, Cathy! I opted out of the massage and everything. Lol

  • April 18 2012

    Everyone has moments like this, and yours is a totally legitimate case! I still to this day FLIP whenever I have to be in water where I cannot see the bottom.

    • April 18 2012

      What?! Pansy.

      Hahaha, I’m so kidding. And so glad someone can sympathize.

  • April 19 2012

    Oh, Candice, don’t beat yourself up. That looks completely terrifying. I’m very afraid of heights and couldn’t have done it myself.

    • April 20 2012

      Seems to be the case with most people, over all! Lol.

  • April 19 2012

    Chalk it up to millions of years of natural selection in favor of individuals who had the sense not to go off cliffs headfirst. Looking over the edge of a building doesn’t bother me, nor does climbing, but if it came to going over the edge on a rope I’d have to agree with my risk-adverse ancestors and take the elevator instead! Go easy on yourself.

    Wonderful blog, by the way.

    • April 20 2012

      Hahaha, thank you! Lol, “natural selection.” Good call.

  • April 19 2012

    Yeah. No.
    Absolutely not.
    I’m taking the elevator.
    In fact, forget that.
    I’ll tale the stairs.

    • April 19 2012

      Why, look at that!
      I’m ‘taleing’ the stairs!

    • April 20 2012

      Stairs feel like a surefire bet.

  • April 19 2012

    I had TMJ – some sort of lock jaw thingey from clenching so hard driving on mountain passes in Colorado. But then I took a rock climbing course (to help with fears of heights & edges) where I actually felt in control and climbed and rappelled off some decent peaks. That provided a tremendous sense of satisfaction. However, heading face down is not normal and I would call your reaction normal; you obviously have the ability not to be swayed by peer pressure which is also a very good thing.

    • April 20 2012

      I LOVE your positive spin on that — not swayed by peer pressure! First time for everything.

      I’d like to take rock climbing classes, actually. Such a good workout.

      • April 21 2012

        No kidding about the peer pressure – good for you. Reminds me of what my ma used to say occasionally: “Dear, if Debbie was going to jump off the bridge, I suppose you would too?” The comparison seems apt!’
        And by the way, I categorically deny your right to consider yourself a wimp over this or see it as a fail. Nope, that won’t do. You are a great adventurer and don’t you forget it.

        • April 26 2012

          Lol, thank you! I am relieved to know I have at least an ounce of willpower.

  • April 19 2012
    Steve Whitty

    Do not worry about. I would not have made the top of the building.

  • April 19 2012

    OMG! This is crazy. I never even knew this “activity” existed. I wonder if they offer it in Montreal!! Congrats!

    • April 20 2012

      Hahaha, I think they do, actually!

  • April 20 2012

    That’s okay, Candice, I probably would have failed too. I figure if something freaks you out that much, why torture yourself? It runs against human nature to do something that could get you killed. There are plenty of other ways to get your kicks in life.

    • April 20 2012

      That’s always been my logic as well…why go through the torture? Doubt I’d turn into a champion climber or anything, Lol. I should conquer a more useful fear…like spiders…

  • April 20 2012

    A) Love your Family Guy reference in the beginning.
    B) Hopefully there’s a next time for you to conquer it. I almost did something similar off the Stratosphere in Vegas, but I too wimped out. I used the price as my excuse:)

    • April 26 2012

      Hahaha, damn, wish I had that excuse. Mine was free.

  • April 20 2012

    Candice! This a random comment – But I’m new to your blog (found your link on the Everywhereist) and I just wanted to let you know I love it. I

    • April 26 2012

      Thanks lady! Any friend of G’s is a friend of mine. ;)

  • April 25 2012

    “I’ve always said it’s not the height that freaks me when flying, but the lack of control. I have fear of equipment malfunction, or something.” ME TOO! I can take rollercoaster, vikings, topgun rides etc, but NOT go-karts! Hell no! I’m not going to put my life in my own hands! BUT I tried. Once.

    • April 26 2012

      Haha! I can’t take rollercoasters either, though. Unless they’re wimpy kid ones.

  • April 25 2012

    You rappelled down that building LIKE A BOSS!

    I’ve never heard or seen of anything like that… I must give something like that a try sometime.

    Thanks for letting us know about your experience!

    • April 26 2012

      Ha, but I DIDN’T! I failed. But whatever. Next time?

      • April 26 2012

        Ooops, like like I spoke too soon.

        Next time? sure why not.. just do it :) *hugs* lol

  • May 13 2012

    Yeah I would never do that. I’d be sobbing through the whole thing.

    • May 15 2012

      Hahaha, I’m so glad I’m not alone.

  • June 23 2012

    Nooo, don’t feel bad! Nothing wrong with not wanting to walk off the edge of a perfectly good building, haha. I got the chance to rappel down a waterfall once – I got almost off the edge, freaked out, and made them pull me back up (and everyone else did it like it was nothing. Bastards).

    • July 04 2012

      Hahaha, I HATE when that happens. Same thing happened when I tried to climb back down from my apartment’s roof the other night…flipped out, and everyone else just scaled it like NOTHING.

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