Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sidelined by injury and Depressed

The Friday before New Years Eve I decided to get one last workout in for the year. I have been doing Crossfit for about 10-11 months. I have never been what I consider a hard core athlete, but I have always been active, even enjoying a stint with technical mountaineering when I was younger. I love Crossfit. I love the way it challenges me. I love being around people who understand how it feels to physically and mentally push your body.

This particular workout wasn't any more difficult than usual. In fact, it involved one of my favorite lifts, the deadlift. Since we were going to be lifting a large number of reps, I picked a weight less than my max. Everything seemed to be going fine, until the end when I felt a little pull in my lower back. After the workout there was some pain, but I didn't think it was anything beyond muscle fatigue and after a rest day all would be fine.

Later that evening I was struggling to walk. The pain on the lower right side of my back seemed to wrap around and shoot down the front of my leg, stopping at the knee. I endured the pain the next day, but when I got up New Year's Day the pain was so intense I fell to the floor in tears.

I spent the first day of the year in an emergency clinic. I was diagnosed with a lumbothoracic strain that was irritating a nerve down the front of my leg from the inflammation. I was given a muscle relaxer, prescription pain meds, and Prednisone to help ease the inflammation.

It's been over two weeks since I have been able to work out. I've gone to the gym a couple times to work on mobility and gentle stretches, which I have also been doing at home. The healing process is slower than the doctor predicted. My back is finally easing up, revealing a pain in my groin, meaning I probably strained tissue in that part of my body, too.

The surprising part of all of this is the mental struggles I have been dealing with. Mornings have been complete hell. Tears well up in my eyes as I struggle to get up out of bed and get myself and my son out the door. I feel mired in negativity. I'm frustrated, tired all the time, and feeling disconnected. I come home from work and sleep. I feel like a lousy mother, griping at the kid too much. My house is a mess, I'm a mess. I hate it.

It turns out that depression is common when dealing with a sports injury. And not really a surprise. The athlete has been sidelined from something that brings joy and fulfillment to their lives. They're isolated from their usual social group. Prescriptions for treatment of the injury may exacerbate things with side effects. Not to mention the biological changes in the body from suddenly becoming less active. Crossfit Invictus has a great article on their blog about mentally dealing with injuries: Coping with Injuries: The Psychology of Being Sidelined.

My goal today is mental self care.

I've named the beast. Acknowledgment is half the battle. I'm going to plan my path to recovery, set some realistic goals for getting back into the gym without re-injury, and be kind to myself today.

And if you are mentally struggling from being sidelined, too, know that you are not alone and it is totally normal.

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