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In his own words, Ups and Downs chronicles Petersen’s personal struggles with mental health and mirrors the experience with the mountains and valleys of ski touring
"Sharing my story has helped me feel more like myself, it's been incredibly liberating." - Drew Petersen (Skiers)
Ups and Downs is a film by Salomon freeski athlete Drew Petersen that chronicles Petersen’s personal story through the peaks and valleys of PTSD, bipolar disorder, brain injuries, depression and struggles with suicidal thoughts. Moreover, it’s also the story of how he was able to find light and healing through asking for help. Recounted through the lens of ski touring, Ups and Downs is told in Drew’s own words as he examines the last several years following an accident in the mountains, his process to find healing, and an introspection that goes much further—into his entire life.
“Making Ups and Downs helped me process some of the overarching elements of my journey by diving so deeply into my own story,” Petersen says. “But even more so, sharing my story has helped me feel more like myself. Before I started talking openly about my mental health struggles, it felt like there was this whole side of myself that I had to keep private. Keeping up that guard for so long was exhausting. Just in the past year as I've started to share more of myself, it's been incredibly liberating and simply put: I feel much more ‘me.’”
Telling his story is deeply personal, vulnerable, and breaks the mold of stories told in skiing. For years, Petersen felt as though he had to keep his experiences and thoughts to himself, concerned that he would be seen as weak if he couldn’t overcome them on his own. Today, he is hopeful that sharing his story and showing the strength in asking for help will help others to feel comfortable discussing mental health.
“This film is part of a much deeper mission to change our entire culture surrounding mental health—especially in the ski and outdoor world and in mountain towns,” Petersen explains. “When I was struggling, a story like mine would have been a lifeline, a survival guide, and a beacon of hope when I needed it most. The fact that my story can be that beacon of hope for someone else is what motivates me to tell my story publicly. When I was a young kid, if I could have heard a pro skier that I looked up to speak openly about mental health, I think the course of my entire life would be different. So now, I'm here to tell my story. This process of sharing my story has shown me that there are so many people who are ready for and want this conversation. And I sincerely believe that cultural change starts with the vulnerability of sharing our own true selves and true stories.”
Petersen premiered his film at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, and the movie was also shown during Salomon’s Quality Ski Time Film Tour in the US, which Petersen produced and managed. Everywhere he’s gone with Ups and Downs, Petersen has been met with an overwhelming amount of support, receiving standing ovations at the majority of the shows on the film tour.
“Showing Ups and Downs along the QST Film Tour was an incredible opportunity to connect with live audiences and see people's faces as they reacted to my film and my story,” he says. “It made me tear up every single time. But more than anything, the interactions I had with individuals face-to-face—ranging from burly, bearded men to mothers and even young kids—who the film resonated with are what I will remember forever. Seeing the impact it had on individuals showed me that sharing this film and talking about mental health can be infinitely powerful.”