Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day, I find it fitting to discus to a certain extent how mental health affects us in varying degrees. Not every moment in our lives is spent living happily or even content. Unexpected events, tragedies, daily stresses all impact our health, and sometimes it’s tough to handle. But what about when everything is seemingly ok and you still feel this way? How do you voice that? How do you cope?
Recently, I went through a period that challenged my mental health. I was on top of the world. Seriously, there was no feeling better than that. Every day waking up, physically in the best shape I had ever been in and mentally focused. I had just qualified for Powerlifting National Championships and was training hard for that event. Each day gaining strength and feeling quite invincible. I was featured in a local magazine, and people were applauding my efforts. I was a face for many women, setting an example that we can be strong and successful.
The day came to compete at Nationals. All the hours I put in training came down to this event. One single day, 3 events, and a whole lot of unknowns. The adrenaline rush of competing is actually quite exhausting, the effects of game day often feeling similar to a hangover. I was used to that though. “Just focus on what you need to do,” I told myself over and over that day. “Don’t worry about anyone else, you came here with no expectations. The goal is to have a solid competition and gain some experience.” I was among extremely strong women, we’re talking pulling almost 400 lbs off the floor. It was a rush to be a part of it. I was so nervous, and had to keep my head down, focusing on the floor. I couldn’t talk to anyone through the whole competition. There wasn't any need for coffee or smelling salts, my heart was pumping just from nerves.
As the competition progressed, it was apparent that I was in contention for a podium finish, but it was going to be a fight. It was a solid competition, and it was going to come down to that last pull. My final lift. Hoping that all my training built up some mental fortitude for that moment. I set foot on the platform and lifted what felt like a weightless bar. Nailing a 3rd place finish.
Over the moon, I celebrated after a long and hard training cycle. That sense of accomplishment is like no other. However, this celebratory phase was short lived. Once all the congratulations wore off, back into my regular life, a sense of sadness and emptiness overwhelmed me. I had no drive, no desire to get back under the bar, no passion for a career that I truly love.
Nobody ever prepared me for what I call the "Post-Competition Blues". Everyone always mentioned how great this time must be for me, and I lied, masking the pain I was feeling. I felt a sense of loss that I couldn’t explain. And I didn’t want to bring it up because this was supposed to be an amazing time, which made me feel guilty, making me feel worse. Come on, I’m not an Olympian, or a pro athlete, so why should I feel this way? But nonetheless I did. Burying it, I escaped my life for a while, not wanting to deal with my world as it stood. With no goals, plans, or next steps, I lost focus, motivation, and passion. I had just spent a big chunk of my time working towards one goal and somewhere along the way of accomplishing it all balance was lost. Now, I was fighting so hard to get it back.
I pretended to be ok for the longest time, until finally I couldn’t anymore. There were injuries, migraines, and crying fits at home. Unable to hold it in anymore, I finally let it out. Talking about how I felt, how I was lost, felt invalidated at a time when I should be happy. The more I talked, the more stories I heard from others who have been through something similar. Slowly, I felt less alone, and over time pulling myself back together. I needed help. Help from friends, some of them don’t even know how much they have helped me. Help from professionals, doctors, physiotherapists, massage, it all helped.
It took time but two years later, I have rediscovered my passion for my sport, and am thankful for every moment I get to train. This time though, my life takes priority, no medal will come in its way. My goal has shifted to having fun with the sport again. When the time comes to manage coming down after an adrenaline rush from a huge competition, I’ll be ready. I know the signs, physically, and mentally. Knowing now, there’s nothing wrong with me. Speak up, talk loudly. We are all in this together.For those listening, keep listening. Compassion runs deep, and it is never forgotten.
In : Bell Let's Talk
Tags: "lets talk" "post competition blues" powerlifting nationals training mental health