S2.E15: How to Work Through Adversity with Jill Wheatley

S2.E15: How to work through adversity with Jill Wheatley

What does it take to work through adversity? What happens when that adversity is coming from an injury that has transformed our life? These are two of the questions that Jill Wheatley helps us to explore thanks to her extensive personal experience.

Jill shares how she handled her recovery from a traumatic brain injury she suffered from a freak accident while on a teaching assignment in Europe. Being near death, having lost 70 percent of her eyesight, she details how she coped with months of recovery, much of it in a foreign country and alone.

Jill tells us how goal setting and keeping perspective helped her to recover and go on to do ultra marathons in Nepal and climb seven of the fourteen 8000m plus peaks. While her sight is still limited, she has not stopped adventuring and pushing her limits.

In this episode of Delivering Adventure, we hear what it took for her to succeed, what the rest of us can take away to apply to our lives, and how she is handling another recent climbing accident which has badly damaged her ankle.

Key Takeaways

How can we work through adversity due to injury:

Keep perspective: Whatever situation you are in, it won’t last forever, even though in the moment it might start to feel like it. This is really important to remember when we are dealing with an injury that has negatively impacted our ability to enjoy life to the point where we start to wonder if we will ever get back to the way things were.

Set goals: Setting goals can help to give us something to work towards. In Jill’s case, she set the goal of climbing all of the 8000m peaks on the planet as a motivator. It’s fair to say that the rest of us can get away with setting more moderate goals and still reap the same benefits.

Get out in nature: Getting out in nature gets us moving, can take our focus off pain, and is fantastic for our mental health.

Don’t be a hermit: Connecting with others is really important. If you know someone who is recovering from an injury, reaching out to them to let them know that they aren’t alone can be very beneficial to their well being.

Enlist a team: Take full advantage of resources such as different health practitioners, strategies, and tools. Each health practitioner can help to address different problems and each has a different approach. Different people in the healing process can help to give you a clearer overall understanding of what is going on.

When people are recovering from injury, they can suffer from status quo bias where they tend to prefer to keep doing the same thing. This mean sticking with only physiotherapy when also going to see a chiropractor or even an acupuncturist could provide for a quicker and a more well-rounded recovery strategy.

Listening to the experiences of how others have recovered from the same situation can also be very beneficial.

Guest Bio

Following a traumatic brain injury that resulted in life threatening complications and 70% vision loss which required 26 months spent between 7 different health care facilities in 3 countries, Canadian Jill Wheatley was dropped at Denver International Airport with no direction. The only sign she could see pointed to mountains. Despite such compromised eyesight, Jill chose to spend one year alone with Mother Nature in an attempt to find light on life’s trail.  Her search led through 13 different massifs and upon running in the Annapurnas in Nepal, she knew that she wanted to spend more time among Himalayan giants. Essentially she has gone from being bedridden, to a wheelchair, then on to walking, navigating hospital parking lots to hiking, trail running, mountain running and skiing before climbing 5, 6, and then seven 8000 m peaks and spending the past 5 years based in Nepal. 

In a story made for movies, Jill’s trail has recently connected to another type of climb when she had a lead fall ice climbing in February 2024 not long after shifting home from the Himalayas to the comforts of Canmore in the Canadian Rockies. With multiple breaks in her leg and ankle, she is committed to a full recovery and getting back to breaking down the stigma associated with brain injury, vision loss and eating disorders while encouraging and helping others get out to do wild things in wild places. 

Guest Links

Jill Wheatley’s website Mountains of my Mind: https://mountainsofmymind.com

Instagram: @mtnsofmymind

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mountainsofmy mind

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/JillWheatley

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Cover Photo by J. Malla

Photos by J. Malla and Jill Wheatley

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