Healing After Injury; Physically and Emotionally

I have not known how to start or where to start, so here I am, writing a post for the athlete side of me, as my focus is to start taking my life into my own hands – additionally, I don’t see a better time than now to discuss the importance of #mentalhealthishealth

There is a question that has been repeating in my head… “Who am I if I am not a good runner?” This started almost two years ago, when I was injured and my mental health became an essential part of my recovery process, either I wanted it to be or not.

I have witnessed how emotional difficulties can negatively affect an injury rehab and further the return to sport, a process that where support has been absolutely essential.

I was recently introduced to the mental health condition, PTSD, in relation to sports, where the athletic realm of injury may be emotionally traumatic.

As our brains are always growing and adjusting to each experience, such as during an injury, it will either adjusts or not to the situation. No matter what, the brain will always change. 

Emotional trauma is explained to be very prevalent in athletes with high athletic identity, athletes who have over-identified themselves as an athlete for the majority of their life. As training and competing are what athletes do every day, they become consumed by athletics.

So, when an injury occurs, especially the serious ones, it takes one out of their norm. In such instances, trauma may occur because of the severity of the injury and the length of time that it takes to overcome injuries.  

Irritability, angry outbursts, thinking about the injury, reoccurring fears/dreams about injury, becoming rational, hypervigilance to injury where the sport becomes “too dangerous”, and disturbed sleep are ALL symptoms of PTSD symptoms.

With my highly athletic identity, my focus has been primarily to play or run through injury, after all, we are supposed to be tough…strong…and represent a form of superhuman. 

The simple truth is that this really damages the human body, prolongs injury, and especially mental and physical ability to return back to sports.

It becomes a negative spiral where athletes are trained to put their bodies on the line, however, this will most certainly come with consequences if not watched carefully. 

The feeling of loss of identity, the loss of sense of self, creates further feelings of being stuck, anxiety, and a form of grief, a process that it seems to get easier involved with than it is detached from…

Its s been a hard truth to understand and experience, however, my lessons and growth would not have evolved without focusing on a rebuilding phase. During these times, I am trying to clarify my core values, continuously trying to find my passion in life, and focus on having fun and relaxing (learning how to rest and how much my body needs).

When I’ve been faced with having to tackle my emotional response to injury there are certain things that have worked.

  • Honesty. Being honest with the people around you, inform them about your struggles – but more importantly, be honest with yourself and your real emotional and physical well-being.
  • Acceptance. Work on accepting your situation, to this day I am still working on it, however, the moments I take myself in believing that “it will be OK” the calmness that arises is a strength in itself.
  • Prioritize yourself. Your body is telling you that you need attention. Listen, feel, and respond (I know it can be hard)
  • Reach out. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, seek guidance, and talk with others. We are not meant to go through challenges or this thing we call life, alone.

Thank you to Kelsey Ruffing for breaking the down the mental health condition, PTSD, and shining light on this important aspect to athletics and athletes.

Thank you for your time 歹 Until next time…

~Love, Mina Marie Anglero

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