Mental health and injuries

This is a subject that is very close to my heart but is very rarely spoken about. It’s a well known saying and fact that you are only that one awful injury away from ending your sports career be it football, rugby, lifting. But it’s very misunderstood just how much our sometimes very fragile minds are so important to possibly overcoming that career ending injury.
When I had my injury it became increasingly apparent to me just how important it was going to be to not only keep on top of my physical rehab but to also stay ahead of my mental rehab as well.
Before I go any further, please don’t if you read this take everything I’m saying as gospel, I’m not an expert and I don’t profess to be. There are some very learned people around where if any of this rings true to you that you may want to seek the services of. Within my short remit for this blog I can merely touch on the amount of knowledge the experts have in this field. I’m just trying to get people thinking outside the box a little and possibly enlighten them a little.
So with all that said here I go.
When faced with a serious injury you go through five very distinct phases which are pretty similar to grief when losing a loved one.
You won’t believe that it’s happened to you, in fact you get very angry about it. Going as far to even attempt to continue training and carry on as you were before.
You’ve finally accepted what’s happened and will do anything to be fixed. Will take anything offered, put your health on the line, just for a glimmer of a chance to compete again. This seems to be happening a lot more recently, the amount of athletes coming back from injury who are then found positive for banned substances!!! The whatever it takes attitude??
So you did the deal with the devil, or you collapsed on the floor in the consultants room begging for them to fix you(as I did) And your still faced with months of inactivity and not being able to participate in the sport you spent far too much time devoted to for it to spit you out and forget about you. That when you really start doubting you will come back, your whole social media is full of people lifting pbs and your stuck watching tv on crutches or in a plaster cast, I deleted everyone related with lifting when I was laid up, the worse thing I’ve ever done as it further isolated me from the sport I loved.
You finally have your diagnosis, had every part of you x-rayed, mri scanned, ultrasounded, been cut up and stitched back together, given a sheet of exercises to do and told to come back in two months with your progress. You’ve got your head out of the darkness and realised that you need to get up and get better. You know it’s gonna be hard starting again but you know it’s gonna happen. So you get on with it.
So you’ve learned to walk again or open a can of beans, it’s time to get lifting again. You’ve exhausted the sheet the surgeon gave you and now you want back on the platform. You find a Physio and the hard work truly begins, this for me was when my mental health was truly tested. I’d already been through hell through the other four phases as well as going through a lot in my personal life, so being pushed to tears twice a week by a Physio knocked me for 6 to say the least.
All that barely touches on the fact that a lot of lifters, myself included, use there training as a very rudimentary and simple form of coping and getting through what there often hectic and stressed life throws at them. You suddenly take away that coping mechanism and anything that was bubbling away in your saucepan of life that was kept at bay by training, is then left to boil over and create havoc.
If your ever faced with a potentially career ending injury remember there have been a lot of lifters that have been through similar and knowing them they will be more than happy to talk to you about what happened to them and how they got through. Andy Cairney did both knees, as did the great Dot Shaw. Delroy McQueen had massive elbow surgery, the legend Andy Cusick came back from a broken back. That’s just scraping the surface of lifters that have seen it and come back from injuries that probably could have finished there lifting but came back to become not only champions but world contenders and all of whom were offering me massive support and advice literally hours after my injury.
If you do ever face the prospect of being injured and a long lay off but don’t want to seek seek the advise of a professional there are literally reams and reams of articles on the web that offers so much practical advise on allowing you to turn that corner and get you positive again and some is as simple as getting back in that team environment, if your lucky to have one, or failing that simply going to the gym for a coffee or protein shake with the owner, you will be amazed how many of them say ‘we was going to call you but didn’t want to upset you’ when the truth is all you wanted was one of them to ring you. And just from personal experience squatting 400kg plus again is a lot easier than learning to run again.
So to sum it all up remember your body is amazing at fixing itself just give it a chance, get yourself an awesome Physio and look after that brain of yours and you will soon be back a lot of the time stronger than you were before.