New WCB caseworker: “So, I was only informed of your job with Horse Connection and your job at the U of W.. what else do you do? Are you a student?”
Me: “I am a full time student, as well as I have another job at MORfit…”
WCB: “What? You have 3 jobs and you’re in school.. full time?”
WCB: “Oh.. my god. Sorry.. but how do you do that?”
Me: “Well, it’s safe to say I’m pretty burnt out at the moment..”
WCB: “I can only imagine.. you’re officially the busiest person I’ve ever talked to…”
My week has been filled with classmates, coworkers, and friends telling me I look tired, and asking what’s wrong. So, I guess it’s been a long week? It’s only Wednesday? This post may be a bit of a frustration rant- bear with me.
With the end of term fast approaching, a bum leg, and a million things on the go- I guess this burnt out feeling was inevitable. Today I took a me day, after struggling through the morning rehab/training session and class- and being questioned a billion times as to what was wrong and why I wasn’t my usual motivated self- I went home and crashed into a nap (still in my jacket and shoes..). I’m starting to feel more refreshed now, and am actually accomplishing some school work for once.
This injury is starting to catch up to me, all that optimism I had early on is fading as rehab seems endless and my burnt out brain loses motivation for pretty much everything. Having experienced burn out before, I can at least deal with it somewhat productively- however this time I do have the extra challenge of physical hinderance as well and dealing with fear and anxiety as they come up in relation to the gradual return to my sport. Because my chosen sport is a little less familiar with my ATs and doctors- I am somewhat lonely on that front. I am lucky to have great supports from my teammates Megg and Lauren, as well as from others in my life- but the only person who can really get me over this hump is me.
A few weeks of an average of 14hr days has definitely left me ready for a break. Normally that break for me would come in the form of going for a run on my favourite route, or taking my horse out for a long hack. Two things that I can’t really do. Once because physically I won’t be there for a while yet, and the other because mentally I am far from that point as well- also, the weather sucks. My subconscious is really just doing it’s job; after all- why would my brain want me to step back into a situation that recently damaged significant aspects of my body? I’ve talked to many other athletes who have gone through the same experiences, and it’s nice to know I’m not losing it. Also interesting to learn first hand about yet another aspect of athletic therapy, a side of it we don’t often hear too much about. It’s not easy to deal with fear of something that is a major part of your life.
In baby step form, I have been on a horse twice this week- with the help of some awesome people. Shakka sported me around on the weekend, and recreated many fearful situations for me as he was a tad fresh (thankfully his fresh is slow motion compared to most horses). I was on for about half an hour, 15 minutes of which I felt great for before anxiety started in, and when M came to watch, leaving the arena door open behind him- I was at the point where I had to stop. That was too much of a recreation of my accident for my head to handle at this point. I got on again Monday night, and Shakka was much less spunky and we had a great hack for another half an hour. This time I was only mildly anxious the entire time. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe, and that the saddle was once a safe place for me. Nervousness is a very unfamiliar feeling for me in the saddle. One that I hope doesn’t become familiar.
While this year has brought many lessons in patience, and prioritising- right now both those things are difficult. I am very frustrated and impatient with my recovery at this point, which isn’t horribly positive. To be in the tack, looking a small jumps set up around the arena and imagining myself schooling over them in the future is terrifying. Yes, I know that won’t last forever- but it certainly makes the next few months seem very daunting. I have never experienced a level of demotivation I’ve felt towards pre-season conditioning and rehab like this before- which in itself is interesting and provides me with a challenge. Often the only thing that gets me to a rehab session is pure obstinance towards the parts of me that are saying “why bother” or “this is going to suck, and be exhausting, and might make you hurt more.. maybe you should just take another day off”. I’m thinking those things all the time- and they are feeding into the fear of riding. Right now, before I get in the tack, and while I”m in the tack- there is a voice telling me that at any moment I could be thrown, be injured longer, be in more pain. The same voice is telling me to walk away from this danger- wait longer before trying- avoid the risk. Take it easy in rehab, don’t push yourself to stay fit as much as possible, take it easy.
That voice isn’t me, really.. And unfortunately arguing with that voice is only adding to my already hectic schedule.
No wonder I zombie napped for an hour and a half today!
What I do know is that if I listened to that voice’s suggestions and took more time, stopped pushing myself to do things that seem hard or horribly intimidating, is that I honestly don’t know if I could get myself back into it after more time. If after 7 weeks the fear built to this level, what would 14 wks be like to deal with? What about a whole season? Yes, I did consider just taking a season off. However, I quickly realised that in all honesty I couldn’t afford to. Even though I do always stress about being able to financially afford to compete and train like I do.. in this sense I mean afford in a long term sense. My passion within the sport of riding has roots in almost every aspect of my life. Educationally, riding has driven me to pursue extra research, ask deeper questions, and set higher goals. Career wise, it’s given me an arena to voice my ideas and put them into action, building my own client base and giving me a chance to develop long term goals. My involvement, and all the ups and downs I’ve had within riding has given me so many skills and set me up for many opportunities that otherwise I may not have been privy to. To say that after 15 years of hard work, sweat, blood, and so many tears that I’m done because of one scary injury? That isn’t okay with me, and it’s that thought process that is keeping my inner argument going.
Fear is a two sided coin for me right now. There is the fear of returning, but also the fear of never going back. Would my life be easier if I took out the expensive hobby and time commitment riding is? Probably, yes. However, easier is almost never better. I would be taking out a piece of who I am, and losing a piece of who I want to be. Riding may take a back seat in the future due to other life goals, as it has and does already during the school year, that is a decision to make if and when. I’ve always been open to the idea of letting goals evolve and change- but letting a decision like that be made because of fear isn’t okay with me, and it doesn’t represent who I am. I also truly believe that if it was something I truly wanted to take a break from, I wouldn’t be having as much of a inner struggle with it. I am so grateful for that struggle, and for the people in my life who aren’t afraid to push me and question me when they see me working through this.
Today I got on a treadmill for the first time and was told to walk- I was immediately frustrated because all I wanted to do was run. A few days ago I got on a horse and was terrified I would never shake this uneasy feeling in future rides.
I am happy for that frustration, it means that I WANTED to run. I’m thankful for that terror- as it means I was thinking of FUTURE rides. As tired as I am- I’m tired because I’m trying.