Sunday, November 13, 2011

take a knee: the life of an injured athlete

i've been feeling really nostalgic lately. it's kind of embarrassing but it has led to my motivation to be stalled and therefore lack of desire to blog. i know not many people prob read my first post--embarrassing in a nut shell background of why i started blogging--so i feel like reflecting on what has gotten me here in the first place.

i always tell my parents they had a boy and 2 girls.  in reality they had 2 boys and girl but my older brothers were both into art and writing, always dressed well, where as i have always been the jock and my wardrobe contains a 3:1 ratio of sweats/gym clothes to nice clothes. i never wanted to wear pink or dresses even when i couldnt dress myself. i always wanted to be one of the boys; i still prefer it actually, but in a i'm definitely a girl i just hate bitch drama kinda way. so with all that said, naturally i was big into being active and somehow i was granted with the ability to be good at almost anything athletic.

i cant remember how i got into sports exactly per say, but i know it started out with basketball. i LOVED basketball. i started playing in camps when i was 8 and my heart was set on being in the WNBA someday...yeah i know, i was 8. my coach always said i was a natural, although how good can you actually be when youre 8, but i never felt like i wasn't one of the top players. i miss the days where i had confidence now that i think about it. i continued summer camps until 5th grade when we could actually start playing on an organized team. i loooooved being part of a team and i loved actually playing to win.

going into middle school i was one of the few chosen to play up for the 8th grade team. i was usually a top scorer and rebounder (i've always been one of the tall girls).  basketball was my main focus, but i also started getting into volleyball.  once again, i was just naturally good at it and learned to love playing it as well.

probably sometime in 8th grade i sort of made the switch from basketball being my main focus to volleyball.  i was good at basketball, but i guess i was exceptionally good at volleyball. going into my freshman year of high school, i can remember my coach asking me and one other player to come to a varsity summer tournament. i was so excited. and i didnt just go and sit on the bench, i got a lot of playing time. this was probably my peak confidence year of my life. i was going to start varsity as a freshman and i ended up getting to play all around too.  not only that but i also ended up playing/starting varsity in basketball too...mostly due to an injury of one of the seniors though.  it was still great; there hadn't been many people who had gotten to do that. i also played softball (the first year of my life i ever actually played) and i ended up lettering in all 3 sports as a freshman.  it was such an honor.  i wouldnt have been able to talk about it like this back then, i have never been a cocky asshole about my athletic ability, ive actually always been really hard on myself, but now that i miss it so much and have lost most of my ability to injury i have absolutely no problem bragging a bit. dont judge me.

so i continued to be a starter through my junior year.  that was probably my peak performance year as well as my most in shape year, but since i had more experience in playing varsity the pressure was really on to be a leader and always be a top performer.  i was probably the hardest on myself this year to always be the best and this is the year that i would say my eating disorder started.

i had a lot of pressure to be a certain size. i'm not going to go into detail on that; certain people will know exactly what im talking about.  i started running every day, in addition to practices, and i wouldn't admit it then, but i definitely restricted my eating a lot.  at first i would say i thought i was just being really healthy, and in a sense i was, but i dont think i was eating enough for how active i was.  anyways, i was really happy with my weight loss and i definitely got the attention for it, but i was also struggling with the pressure to stay thin and the pressure to continue restricting my diet. regardless, i was still accelling at my sports and i was determined to get a scholarship to play volleyball in college.

junior year is also when my athletic career was semi-ruined. in the spring at a volleyball tournament i came down from a hit on my right leg and i had a "ive fallen and i cant get up moment".  i would describe the feeling as an electric shock in the middle of my knee. it was unlike anything i had ever felt before and i knew something serious had happened.  wouldnt ya know it i had torn my acl completely and had a partial meniscus tear. surgery was necessary to continue playing sports and with surgery came a 6 month rehab package. awesome! by the time i got surgery, i would miss my whole senior year of volleyball and half my season of basketball, not to mention i was only going to get to come back at like 60% (i didn't know that at the time, i found it out the hard way). so i went through with the surgery. with all that considered i was already beginning to become depressed. my boyfriend broke up with me that summer. and my eating disorder soared. i gained pushing 30 pounds, yes 30. and that didnt help with the depression at all considering my past of working hard to lose the weight that i had.

so i missed and avoided my senior year of volleyball. i couldnt face watching my team (and we had a really good team) play without me. it was way too hard, as selfish as i knew it was.  i had a little bit higher hopes for basketball season since i knew i would get to play a little bit anyway so i was more dedicated to my season.  when it came time to be able to play, i was excited and nervous. i had to wear an awful brace and at that point i knew that i wasnt going to perform anywhere near what i used to. i had a little mini cheer section for my first game back, and it was away too so that felt nice, but i was also putting pressure on myself to play well. well, once i got on the court i basically felt like i sucked. and i became so discouraged. i was even less of being close to what i thought i could perform. i got a little better, but by the end of the season it hadnt been enough time of play to get back to the old me.

my senior year was a really hard year for me. i struggled through every bit of it. i didnt think i would be playing a sport in college and i wanted to go to school as far away as possible.  well that didnt end up happening.  last minute i got an offer to play volleyball at penn state behrend (the coach knew me from summer camps during high school) and i hesitantly decided to give it a shot.

i worked on getting in shape over the summer and played on a JO team and my ability started to come back.  one of my best friends from high school played at behrend and i was familiar with erie so adjusting there wasnt too hard.  i was a somewhat consistant starter as a freshman and i started gaining a little confidence back anyway. by the end of the season i felt like i was getting way more comfortable with my knee.  then came spring season. i swear mother nature hates me in the spring.  i was actually starting to feel almost 100% at this point. i made it through all the practices. we had one big tournament at the end and i was excited to play.  well i made it through the tournament until the very last game of the last match. went up for a block, landed like a normal person, and my left knee just buckled to the left. the minute i fell in my head i was like omg not this again. i instantly knew what had happened. i was balling. and not because of the pain, but because of how hard i had worked to get to where i was just for my other knee to be a dirty bitch and do the same thing to me all over again. i can remember saying "i cant do it again, i cant".  well i did it again, but this time my athletic career was officially officially over, and i struggled with depression again.  my grades started getting worse and i had no motivation in school.  i distanced myself from the team once again and i kind of felt like i was just out of place there.

i ended up transferring to penn state main campus. in a nut shell, not knowing anyone and going to a whole new place, and being depressed all at the same time didn't make my transition go well. i did okay at first, but eventually started failing and not going to any of my classes, and so i "medically withdrew" aka i dropped out. i dont feel like sugar coating it.

which brings me to where i am today.  when people ask me if im in school i hate answering it. and im not going to tell everyone i meet that i had to drop out because i was depressed. i dont want to say school isnt for me, because i know it is, i just dont think it was the right time. since all of that i have had my third surgery obviously.  and with this one i have been able to come out of it with a much better attitude. dropping out of school was my best decision yet that i have made and if anyone wants to judge me they can go eff themselves.  okay sorry haha that was harsh, but seriously.

i dont think ill ever forget about my past. it has made me who i am today. im still struggling with accepting that and i think that i always will. i guess i kind of live by the saying "what doesnt kill you makes you stronger", but it took 3 surgeries and 2 sport career enders to get me to that place.

this is super long and i feel like no one is going to want to read it, but it explains a lot about who i am. even if no one reads it i feel really good about getting it out of my system a bit and maybe ill have a normal person blog about working out later :)

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