Some time ago we had an article about dealing with injuries in our sport and how the athlete can use BJJ as a mode of recovery.
What we didn't discuss was how our mental health is affected when we either suffer the injury or if we somehow contributed to the injury.
In the article, I wrote of an example where the athlete had totally ruptured the quadriceps muscles at the knee as well as some significant ligamental damage and I managed to catch up with this athlete at a recent tournament and have a good talk with him.
The injury he sustained was almost 10 years ago. He was studying to become a lawyer and he was a very good blue belt.
As the conversation went on he told me that he had been suffering greatly from depression since the accident. He never finished his law degree and had been working from job to job never committing to anything as his knee had never fully recovered. He even sounded like he had lost his passion for the sport.
He told me that the longer he stayed off the mat the more he didn't want to come back because he didn't feel as though he would be the same person.
The pain he would experience in life came and went, and when it was present it felt like it would take forever to recover from.
He went further telling me that in his darkest he would turn to either alcohol or 'other' substances to try to make him feel better.
He told me that if he had have gotten on the mat as part of a routine regardless of his mobility, maybe things would have been different.
Seeking assistance with mental health is the same as having a coach for sport. Psychologists and psychiatrists are mind coaches and have their place in assisting with your rehabilitation. They are the coach for the mind.
Devising a strategy to get your head (literally) back in the game with these mental coaches will help you so long as you let them.
The stigma of seeing a psyc should not be negative nor should the individual feel ashamed that they are. More often than not telling your closest friends is a good thing as they may see triggers and help the individual get back on their feet quicker.
The worst thing you could do is distance yourself from things that you love (loved) or people that care for you.
Moving forward it is important that the athlete recognises early their symptoms of depression and anxiety and that they seek assistance as soon as possible as this will help the clinicians better support the athletes' rehabilitation and goals to return to sport. Not only this, having support from physiotherapy and the athletes' coach to get the athlete back to training will greatly assist the athlete in keeping the negative mindset away.
Using the tools available will see the athlete get back to it much sooner than they think.
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