Here is Emma's story about how physical wellness can affect the mental side of things and vice versa....
Hi guys! Thanks so much for the opportunity to share a little insight into my journey with mental health.
I'm very fortunate that I do not suffer from any specific Mental Health conditions. However, like everyone, I too have lows in my life. More recently, I have begun to realise how connected these mental lows are to my physical health.
When I was a kid, I was incredibly active and played in numerous sports teams, which helped to keep me fit and was also a great social outlet for me. But it didn’t come without its downsides.
When I was about 11 years old, I started having trouble with my knee caps dislocating. Initially, doctors believed this was something that I would grow out of, kind of like “growing pains” thing. At the time, all they had to offer me was to strengthen up my thigh muscles. Sadly, this only led to more pain on relocation.
I had dislocated my knees in a couple of pretty expected ways, while skiing and on the soccer field. But then I started dislocating my knees in less impressive situations: when I was walking across a golf course, getting out of bed or even getting dressed in the morning.
When I was about 17, I finally had surgery to address the dislocations, the outcome of which has continued to affect me to this day.
While the surgeries helped to address the immediate concern, I couldn’t bring myself to exercise. Because of the pain I experienced with each dislocation, the constant worry of re-injuring myself and the extra stress incurred by the shift work of my chosen career (nursing), I couldn’t face the prospect of injuring myself again.
At the time, I didn’t notice any negative impact - aside from my self-esteem that took at hit at the knowledge that I was starting to gain weight. It wasn’t until later in life, once I started going to the gym again (in particular going to our SMASH classes), that I realised how much of a positive impact exercise has on my mental health. I now realise how much I need it to keep both my body AND mind healthy.
But unfortunately, injuries are still a common occurrence for me. It was especially hard earlier this year when I re-injured my knee and was unable to walk, let alone exercise, for a couple of months. It was hard to not spiral downwards and take out my anger and frustration on my body and myself, for failing me once again.
I recall one particularly hard night when I declared, very seriously with tears running down my cheeks, that I wanted to be a goat. I had been watching a video of baby goats playing and was so jealous of the freedom they had. We can look back at this now and laugh at what I said, but at the time, all I could think of was how rough and unfair the whole situation was.
Eventually, my knee healed, and slowly but surely I have been able to get back to where I was before my injury. My knees still give me plenty of grief, but I am now even more thankful and grateful for my body, and what it is able to accomplish now.
The fear of being injured again hasn’t gone away, but I’m now more confident than ever that I have the determination and resilience to make it through.
Thank you again Emma. We are proud of you xx