The toll of injury on mental health

Snap!

That was the sound I heard when I pulled my hamstring while playing football back in university.

I instantly knew I couldn’t play on and hobbled off the pitch with the adrenaline still coursing through my body.

I’m no stranger to injuries, having sustained a few up till that point in my life. There are injuries where you know you can power through. This was not one of them.

You don’t really appreciate how something as basic as walking would turn out be one of the hardest things.

My first obstacle was a single step that separated the pitch we were playing at with the road that I had to take to go home. A single step, that probably wasn’t even 15cm high, was holding me back.

Injury was something that was brought up during the #LuarBIASA virtual forum by several athletes, mostly with them sharing their experience and struggles.

It took a lot for me to admit I needed help and to ask my teammates if they could help me up this one small step. I would have done it myself if I could, but everything I tried ended up with me on the floor.

The thing that no one tells you about pulling your hamstring or even getting injured and staying out of the game is not the excruciating pain when you get hurt, the gruesome rehabilitation that follows, or even the changes you need to make to your daily routines to adjust to your injury.

The thing that no one tells you is how hard it is on your mental health. The days and nights you lie awake in bed, the self-defeating thoughts you have while your friends and teammates wish for your speedy recovery.

You can’t train. You’re getting more and more agitated by the day as long as you are not back doing what you love. My leg hurt, but what hurt more was the war going on in my head.

You rush through rehabilitation, and the first time you can train without hurting again, you feel all excited as if everything is finally all right.

You convince yourself that “Yes, it still hurts but at least I can play now” and then you stop your rehabilitation programme. You keep pushing yourself, until one day, you forget you aren’t 100 per cent yet and you push yourself further than your body can handle.

It could have been the adrenaline or the competitive spirit, or that you just didn’t want to lose to the person you were marking. For me, it was an ultimate Frisbee tournament, and I pushed myself further than my body could take it.

Snap!

You’d think the second time would be easier right? Since I had already been there before, I should know how to handle it and get back up, right? Nope.

I’d reckon the second time was worse because I knew the risks involved but I guess I lied to myself so that I could get that rush again from being back playing again.

You’d think I learned my lesson, right? Surely I would know by now I had to ask for help? And to maybe get myself to an actual physiotherapist and not handle my injury with what little knowledge I had?

It was only after my second time of getting injured that I finally sought help from a physiotherapist.

She not only put my body back in shape, but I felt much more at peace with myself knowing I wasn’t alone anymore and was with someone who could help me and keep me in check.

You don’t need a sports psychologist to help you get through your injury, but it’d help for sure.

For me, it was my physiotherapist. The physiotherapy centre was a safe space where I wouldn’t be judged and where I’d be understood and supported.

It’s hard asking for help and support from a professional when you’re injured and are in a dark place by yourself. I’ve been there.

You know what’s harder than asking for help? Going through it alone.

Mind Gap and Twentytwo13 are collaborating in the #LuarBIASA campaign. This news website has made a commitment to educate the masses about mental health.

Tagged with: