Before I write this, I am not doing this for anyone to say, “you will be ok”.. I don’t care about that stuff, this is meant to tell those who have never been injured what the mental process is while injured.
There are three kinds of people in gyms. Casual goers who can miss a few weeks and not care; dedicated people who still eat like shit and drink on the weekends; and people who view the gym as a lifestyle rather than a hobby.
This is for the third one, the ones like me who dedicate themselves to their own personal physical ideal.
When you get hurt, the first reactions are extreme depression and anger.
Anger because you fucked something up… caused by form issues, forcing it, not warming up… whatever.
Depression because you know your body well enough to know when shit really went wrong. A tweak is one thing, a tear is something you know will require time away.
After that subsides you start having a little optimism.
“Maybe it isn’t that bad”
“Maybe its just partially torn”
Even as swelling and bruising take over, you still hope for the best.
After making the appointment for the MRI, and seeing the results, two things happen. Your optimism is rewarded and you take it easy for a bit, or you have the proverbial worst-case scenario right in your grill.
Now, in my case, it was worst-case… so let’s carry on from there and not the lucky ones.
Surgery is scheduled so you try to cram as many insane workouts as you can because you know you’ll be taking it easy for quite a while. You leave the gym spent, sore and dreading the day they cut you open because the gym is a huge part of you.
By the time surgery rolls around, you think you’re mentally ready, but you aren’t… the hardest part is yet to come.
After surgery you are in recovery (in my case I was completely under) and you look at your repair… its wrapped, immovable and you know the pain will start once the nerve blocker wears off… so they have Percocet for you to take. Even if you hate painkillers, you are an ass if you don’t take them for a joint/tendon repair. No shame in that, being a “man” doesn’t mean being a fucking idiot. Take them.
Now reality sets in… you have to take it easy in the gym until you are fully cleared. For everyone BUT us that means getting fat, weak and just dealing. For us, we plan, we attack, we train other bodyparts that are healthy to keep us strong.
In the gym you are humbled. Try doing any sort of meaningful lifting with a damaged limb. You will then really learn that the body is one piece… So you go light and it will fuck with you. You will be pissed, you will be upset and you will hate it… don’t push it, there is nothing more stupid and worse than immediately hurting yourself again.
You will look in the mirror and feel soft, weak, smooth and want to rip off your sling/cast/brace and say fuck it. I know…
Others have been there and they came out better. We are magnificent. Muscle has memory, we rebuild. We are strong mentally, we fight and we are smart enough to know how to avoid major injury again.
If you ever get hurt in a strength sport, odds are this scenario will play out in your head… don’t quit, don’t give up, don’t give in. Stay the course by taking steps backward to be able to fucking explode forward.
After all, half the fun is in the challenge and the comeback.
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