This summer, I am inspired to get fit. This is kind of a big deal for me because I have never been that bothered about the concept of being healthy. As a young teenager, I was obsessed with being thin, because for me, thin equalled healthy. I thought everything looked better thinner - your clothes hung better, boys were more likely to ask you out and, therefore, you’d be happier. Obviously, I was way off. But nothing about my perception of ‘thinness’ really changed that much until last year; August 22nd.
August 22nd started off pretty normally for me until a child sat on my knee and my kneecap dislocated. For 20 minutes. In a park. Needless to say, it was pretty traumatic. At the hospital, I was diagnosed with hypermobility, which is a condition that means I have really stretchy ligaments, which in turn makes dislocations somewhat common. This was an absolutely TERRIFYING thing to be told - the moment I left the hospital I was convinced that my knee could dislocate anytime, anyplace and this started months of general rubbish-ness.
I had to stop learning to drive. I found even walking to the car from my house was nerve-wracking and painful. I couldn't get in the bath. When Uni started at the end of September I couldn't attend classes very often - I was so cut off from my peers. My mum had to drive me everywhere - I lost all independence and confidence.
Mentally, I was completely shattered. I couldn't even look at my knee without feeling physically sick. I looked forward to sleep because that was the only time my body completely relaxed. I was constantly on edge - every time my knee so much as clicked I would burst into tears. At my worst point, I couldn't even muster up the courage to walk to the bathroom from my bedroom - I was that scared.
This routine, of being so fearful of my own body, went on for months. I began to crave the tiniest things: the ability to walk down to the town centre to grab a coke, going to uni on my own, meeting up with friends. I got to the point where I pretty much hated my body, and then I decided that I needed to seek some help.
I saw a lovely therapist, who started to address my emotional response to the injury. This was the turning point in my recovery. She focused on self-love and self-worth, and these concepts completely turned my life around. I gradually, over a few months began to accept my body again. I started being able to look at my knee, then I managed to get in the bath, and after a few more weeks I felt like I could start walking short distances again. Around this time, I was finally able to see a physiotherapist, and she helped me regain the confidence I’d lost in my body. Over time, I started to exercise - first on my bike, then some short walks.
Now, almost a year after the incident happened, I am still not back to normal. Muscles take a long time to heal. But I am in such a good place compared to where I was; I can walk to town and back again, see my friends and feel normal. I had a tough year, but I got through it, and actually I’m thankful for it because it helped transform my attitude to my body.
Before the dislocation, to me my body was what it looked like. Then I had that and almost everything else taken away; I could barely walk, or bath or do anything by myself. Now, I am so grateful every single time I’m able to take a step outside, or ride my bike. My body is amazing, not for its appearance, but for what it can do. So this summer, I am inspired to get fit. I am inspired to walk, to swim and to bike. I am inspired to embrace my body and love it, completely.