Opinion: The invisible toll of sports injuries
After a sports injury, the mental backlash can impede healing, says page editor Taesa Hodel
By Taesa Hodel
The mental response to a sports injury is deeply debilitating, and without the right support, an athlete may never be the same, both on and off the field.
Last spring, I tore my anterior cruciate ligament while skiing. I can still hear the snapping of my knee as it dislocated, can still feel the sobs ripping from my chest into the freezing hillside.
It took me months to rehabilitate, and my knee still can’t bear my weight properly. I’ve had to watch this ski season pass by without me, and had to watch my passion slip through my fingers.
I can only imagine how this loss manifests in competitive or training athletes.
All injuries carry different emotional weight
Any injury like that will have emotional backlash. Being unable to care for yourself is degrading.
But I think sports injuries carry a more profound sense of loss.
A sports injury is a betrayal of your body. Something you loved doing becomes associated with pain, fear, and for me, depression.
It’s a vicious cycle. When your days pass without meaning, and your life looses a sense of purpose, it’s hard to care about doing squats and stretching.
There’s little to no mental support
It’s hard for others to understand as well.
You can see a physiotherapist to help you physically, but there’s no resources for the mind, especially for students and non-professionals.
I was lucky to have people in my life who supported me through one of my darkest times.
I had to completely re-evaluate my life to get better, because it would never be the same.
Career athletes may not have other passions to follow like I did. What they need is support that is near impossible to find.