A week or so ago, my husband and I were relaxing and watching Netflix. We watched a documentary called At All Costs. It was about AAU basketball and all of the work that goes into positioning players for the next level of play. It was crazy to see the amount of travel, time, and work that these players and their families put into being successful. The part that stood out most to me, was when a sport’s psychologist talked about the emotional/psychological effects basketball had on these players. These players were identifying their worth and their value with their ability to play basketball. They were being conditioned to be one dimensional. I related with this thought process almost immediately. I wrote a little bit here about a back injury that made my life hard for a while. While it messed with me physically, it was far worse mentally.
From the time I was a little girl, I was always proud of my ability to keep up with the boys, to climb higher, run faster, and generally be the best at anything I put my mind to. The academic transition from high school to college was okay. I wasn’t at the top of my class, but I did alright. It was good enough for me. Where I found my real joy was on the social side. I didn’t socialize by going to parties and events on campus. I socialized by playing basketball, oftentimes 5 days a week. I loved it. When I re-herniated discs in my back I couldn’t socialize the way I used to, I couldn’t see my value regularly. I quickly began to lose sight of what my real value was.
I was depressed and I didn’t know it. I started sleeping my life away. I remember one weekend in particular where I was awake for about 4 hours of the entire weekend. Why I thought that was acceptable I can’t say. That is the tricky thing about depression. You often can’t see it while you are in it. I even had a doctor suggest to me that I was depressed. I didn’t believe him. He didn’t know me after all. I stayed in this depressive state for months before I really began to recognize I wasn’t quite myself. I finally was willing to admit my depression after I had a situation where I realized I had been willing to compromise deeply held beliefs because I didn’t care. I didn’t care about others, I didn’t care about consequences, I didn’t care about anything other than what I wanted to do.
How did I start the long climb out of depression?
I started climbing unintentionally. If somebody had come to me and said, you are depressed start doing these things, I would have been resistant and ignored them. I started focusing on other areas of my life. I couldn’t play basketball five times a week, but I could sew a seam. I started quilting. I couldn’t play basketball, but I could go for walks. I started finding my own value. My brain couldn’t tell me I had no value when I was continually offering up evidence to the contrary. We all have highs and lows. Sometimes it is just a bad day, and other times it’s a bad year. If it is a bad day, start by identifying your value. Show your brain that you have value. If it is a bad year, perhaps consider looking at talking to your doctor. Nobody should be in a dark funk for that long. If the doctor can give you a ladder to climb out of the hole, use it.
Life is meant to be lived. Not existed. Identify your value and find your joy.