As an instant gratification, Instagram-likes-counting species, we’re very quick to assume that pro skiers are living the dream. Getting free skis; getting to travel the world; getting to ski some of the deepest snow on the planet – it’s frequently pitched to us as the perfect life that we should all aspire to one day live.
But, while we’re not suggesting that we wouldn’t love to quit our jobs and do all of the above, Drew Petersen is here to level with us an incredibly honest and powerful film, Ups and Downs.
“After a near-death accident in the mountains, Drew quickly found himself in a deep hole with mental health struggles”
After a near-death accident in the mountains, Drew quickly found himself in a deep hole with mental health struggles. In the years following the accident, Drew was navigating a life with PTSD, bipolar disorder, brain injury rehab and suicidal thoughts, all while keeping up appearances of that ‘perfect life’ the Instagram algorithm likes us all to portray.
Ups and Downs takes a look at Drew’s path through the peaks and valleys of life with mental health struggles. Told through the lens of ski touring, the film takes a look at Drew’s life before the accident, to the present day where he uses the mountains – and ski touring – as a form of therapy.
Props to Drew (and Salomon) for shining a light on a conversation that many can benefit from in such an honest and open way. If you or someone you know is in need of mental health support, you can find resources at: drew-petersen.com
Here’s a personal note from Drew:
“I’ve known for a long time that when I got myself to a safe, stable place, I would want to share this story publicly with the world. When I expressed this to my therapist several years ago, she shared this advice:
Think about it like the safety talk when you board an airplane. The stewardess says, “If the cabin loses pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling. Make sure your mask is secure before helping those around you.”
It took multiple years of therapy and hard work for me to get my mask on securely. About a year ago, early in the 2020-2021 ski season, I told my therapist that I was confident that my mask was on. What I had realized and have learned to accept was that my mask was not perfectly sealed nor leak-proof—and it might not be for the rest of my life. But I decided that for me, my mask is secure enough that it’s not going to fall off. The seal still breaks on occasion and it leaks, but I’m confident that I now have the tools, systems, and help to readjust it when necessary, tighten the straps, and keep on breathing.
That moment was the beginning of making this film and telling my story publicly. That was when I knew I was ready to help those around me.
Making this film, telling my story, and sharing myself with the world has been a journey in and of itself. But what I’ve learned more than anything is that there is infinite power in changing our entire culture surrounding mental health. The number of people that have reached out to me and opened up with their own stories continues to amaze me. All of these struggles—all the way to my struggles with suicidal episodes—are truly normal. I didn’t fully believe that until now, but if I could have known that when I was at my worst, I would have felt much less alone.
So for those of you out there who my story resonates with, you are so far from alone. And I promise you there is hope.