Depression is a curious thing. You are okay, until you aren’t. And I crossed over into not being okay last week some time. The line can be as distinct as that. One minute you are travelling along in your own lane and then things start to pile up on top of you faster than you can manage them.

“You have a huge strength imbalance and a biomechanics problem. This is a disaster waiting to happen. And that’s good news.”
-Treatment Session, 29th January

I go into treatment sessions hoping to find problems. No-one wants to be told there’s nothing wrong, because clearly there is something very wrong which is why I’m still experiencing pain 7 weeks after stopping all aggravating exercise. Problems are fixable. That’s their great advantage. But they are also overwhelming. And sometimes the scale of a problem can seem bigger than your were hoping or expecting or even know how to deal with.

So far I have multiple entrapped nerves, bones that have been pulled out of position by my scoliosis, an extraordinarily weak right hip and a biomechanics problem. They are fixable. But it’s also a lot of things. And unlike a bone breaking or a muscle tearing, there’s no timeline for a body with only one functioning side.

I like to think about what I might be able to do once I have two functioning sides, but it seems a bit too far away to focus on right now.

“This is the hard part. No matter how depressed you feel, you have to keep talking to us. Because nothing is going to work if you can’t be proactive.”
-Treatment Session, 31st January

Well meaning people ask me if I’m enjoying the break. ‘A break from what?’ I ask. I miss the creativity that happens on long runs, I miss taking photos, I miss that pleasantly tired feeling when your brain empties itself over the course of the run and I miss having something to reach for.

“Are you sleeping?”
– Conversation with my mother, 3rd February

Yes. I’m still sleeping. I know what she’s asking. There was always a possibility that if I had a significant injury I might have to go back on anti-depressants, but I’m not at that bridge yet. I’m still sleeping, my thought patterns aren’t disturbed and I’m still functional, everything just feels that bit harder than it should, like everything takes double the power, double the focus, double the will.

“This is going to be really difficult, but you need to find a way to focus on the process.”
-Coaching Session, 31st January

The process. I’ve been listening to “The Obstacle is the Way” on audiobook to help me with this. I loved the process of running, but with swimming and cycling I’m like one of those people who wear “I hate cardio” t-shirts as if all cardio and all types of training are the same, interchangeable and meaningless. I need to find ways to commit to the process that don’t result in me half-assing training because it’s not what I want to be doing.

“In every situation, life is asking us a question, and our actions are the answer.”
– Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way

This could be the best gift I’ve ever been given. That doesn’t mean it’s not hard. But ultimately it will come down to what can I control? I decide if I do my rehab exercises (and do them with purpose), I decide what I eat to help my body and muscles and tendons recovery, I decide how much sleep I get and I decide how much intention I put into embracing what I can do, doing it well and finding things to love about it.

I still decide. I decide to put my disappointment and sadness and frustration into creating something strong, better and more resilient than it ever could have been before.

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Zoey Dowling

Written by: Zoey Dowling

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