I have forever had issues with my knees. Swelling, pains, clicks, and locks, well the lot you name it. I have seen doctors abroad and in the UK, private and NHS. The problem with a knee pain is no one really knows what they are looking for. Therefore the possibilities could be endless. However this has rarely affected my daily life and routine. I am generally able to do most things, living a very active lifestyle. 16 hours on my feet, gym, swim and partaking in many social activities. Yet of course I still take caution, as with weak knees comes easy damage. I have had problem after problem from torn cruciate ligaments to thinning cartilages. Yes unfortunately it is rare for me to go the course of a year without being in crutches!
Late last year I sustained an injury to my knee whilst partaking in a light jog, which is currently undergoing scans. Although this will not solve my underlying issue, this has ended up having a huge impact on me and my life! Of course there will be some major impacts as it effects my walking, my exercise, pretty much everything I do. However sustaining an injury can have a profound effect on your mental health too.
HOW AN INJURY CAN IMPACT ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
I decided to study some research of my own and what I found generally tended to support what I was feeling. Although research in this area is slim and in the early days, I was able to link back to the psychological impact of injuries. An article written by Margot Putukian, the director of athletic medicine and head team physician at Princeton University, claims that
‘For some student-athletes, the psychological response to injury can trigger or unmask serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and substance use or abuse.’
Now I am well aware that this article is associated with athletes, however I do feel that the same principles can apply to those who lead a rather active lifestyle, and their work depends on their physical health. I found once I got injured I fell into a downward spiral. The mobile lifestyle that I held, with the opportunity to maintain my weight and fitness levels was stripped away and I felt completely and utterly lost. In a piece on Live Strong, Linda Purves suggests
‘that the sudden loss of physical activity in your life can create a psychological state that has been likened to the grieving process.’
This of course maybe deeper for athletes. However yet again, I am sure anyone whose lifestyle has been affected by an injury can relate to some of these steps. For me from the start I certainly felt desperation, I wanted to keep pushing no matter what and ignore the problem. Purely because as someone who has already suffered from depression and anxiety, the release of serotonin I gain when working out massively improves my state of mind.
The next stage goes into depression suggesting that an injury can leave a void in ones life. This can certainly be agreeable, as someone who leads a mobile life, daily workout routines, walks and social outings. Not to mention running a blog on health and fitness, I had nothing left to fill my day with. This links to the downwards spiral, all my mind focused on was how I could not maintain my figure and my blog. This not only led to depression but serious body issues. My confidence was at an all time as was my mood. I could not even walk to the shop without my knee ballooning up. This led to endless days in bed doing sweet FA and becoming very unhealthy. That is because everything I do is associated with health and lifestyle and that has been postponed.
It soon came to the point where I had to accept my issue. Although for me the results are not in and unfortunately I could have this issue the rest of my life. Finally speaking with the Dr and getting some clear answers was enough for me. My anxiety had stopped me doing even the smallest of workouts in fear of long lasting damage. However I slowly found there were some activities that do not carry as bigger burden on my knee than heading to the gym. Activities like light yoga, which also worked wonders for my mental state. Also swimming using a kick float so my arms were bearing the most of my body weight.
These are the things that are slowly leading to my rehabilitation, of body and of mind. Whilst the though of surgery maybe looming, there could just be a lifetime of physiotherapy. The point is I had to find other ways to try an maintain my lifestyle, without pushing my healing body too far. There should be a lot more studies carried out on this matter. As we can see, this can have a deepened effect on some individuals. As Putukian claims there are other issues that can arise such as eating disorders and substance abuse.
If you suffer from an injury and it has a dramatic effect on you and your lifestyle? Then do not shy away talking to somebody. That person could just life you out of that vicious cycle. I really wanted to share this as so many people suffer from injuries daily and be left feeling a sense of loss. People may suffer a lot more on the inside and be hurting in more ways than just their injury.
Have you been severely affected by an injury? Has it changed the way you lead your lifestyle? I would love to know in the comments below!
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