Eight weeks ago, I fell down the stairs at my bus stop and broke my ankle. This wasn’t the first time I had badly injured it, but it was the first time it had actually broken and my first time in a cast.
If I am completely honest, I had a bad time. I ended up quite depressed and angry, treated my loved ones badly and felt incredibly guilty about how I was acting. Everything about my life changed — simple things became impossible, like carrying things and showering. I was sore everywhere, all of my muscles ached and my ankle itself hurt so much it was hard to sleep at night.
This all may sound inconsequential and, trust me, I felt bad for feeling so sorry for myself. I felt guilty that I was so miserable over my very temporary disability, when there are so many people living with permanent disabilities, but I couldn’t help feeling that way. It did, however, make me realise how much the systems around us are set up for able bodied people — we assume people to be able-bodied before we think otherwise. It made me think just how difficult it can be if you’re not one of those people, whether temporarily or more long-term.
Right now, I’m doing much better and feel like I’m back to my old self. If I had my time again I think there are a few things I’d do to be a bit kinder to myself and those around me. I wanted to share them for anyone who might find themselves in a similar situation.
Try to be in tune with your mental health
This is serious and very, very important to understand. I ended up so depressed I stopped getting out of bed. I just didn’t see the point. My partner and sister had to go to work and I ended up resenting them for it. How was it fair that they got to go out into the world and see people and do things while I struggled my way through the day? Everything was harder than it was before — making myself breakfast, getting to the couch to study, getting up and going to the toilet. Eventually I just kind of gave up and stayed in bed instead.
I have had depression a number of times in my life and I live with anxiety, so I was able to recognise that I was not in a good place and I knew that it was only temporary. It is so important that if you find yourself in a situation like this, try to be as in tune with your mental health as possible. Question why you don’t feel like getting out of bed and why you feel the way you do. Reach out for help, tell your loved ones how you are feeling, and access trained professionals whose job it is to help.
Try to stay as active as possible
Even though life has just gotten a bit harder and slower, try to do as many of the things you would normally do as possible. I have been on a weight loss journey for the past year and a half (well years really, but that’s another story) and I was finally seeing some great results just before my injury. I was terrified of undoing all of my hard work.
Two days after the accident, I hobbled my way back into the gym. I am not saying this is an approach that works for everyone, and my workouts changed quite a bit, but this was part of my normal routine. Keeping it really helped my healing process. If you find yourself in a similar situation, try to do things you would normally do (within reason and discuss this with your Doctor). Your whole life doesn’t have to stop just because you hurt yourself.
Don’t beat yourself up about how you feel
A crappy thing has happened and you’re allowed to feel sad about it. Yes, there are much worse things that can happen but that doesn’t mean what’s happened isn’t significant to you. Feeling down about something often brings guilt with it. Just give yourself a break, let yourself be sad about it and stop the negative self-talk. Feeling down is only temporary and you will feel better. And if you don’t, recognise the signs and seek help.
To see published post go to http://www.fya.org.au/2017/06/20/breaking-limb-taught-incredibly-valuable-lessons/