I’ve been thinking about seeing a sports psychologist for some time now. I’ve also been debating whether or not I would share the experience if and when I did. No one likes to air their dirty laundry, me included, but I think this was an experience worth sharing.
As you know, two consecutive injuries have kept me sidelined for most of 2011. I am for the most part a happy person but lately, I’ve seen some signs that made me worry I might have a touch of situational depression from this long running layoff. So, I finally made an appointment for a therapy session.
The doctor, a psychiatrist, not psychologist, was the perfect fit for me. He’s a runner, his kids are runners, his daughter-in-law is a stud of an ultrarunner. And he’s also the sports psychiatrist for the Baltimore Ravens. He understands injuries and what they can do to you.
After getting all my background, he explained to me how the brain operates in relation to something that delivers pleasure. I’ve found something (running) that I look forward to, enjoy while doing, and that makes me happy when it’s over. This pleasure circuit is great when you’ve got it–it keeps you continually happy. But when it’s broken, that’s when you have a problem. If you were wondering–yes, this is much like a drug addiction (I’ve kind of always suspected as much!).
In my case, and probably in many other runners, because I get so much out of running, I don’t bother to diversify much and find other outlets. Right now, without running, I need another outlet. I’d say writing–and landing writing jobs–can somewhat fill that void, so that’s where I’m going to concentrate.
Problem number two for me has been a lack of letting these emotions out. Look, I’ve got a mom and a brother-in-law with cancer. Um, that kind of trumps what I’ve got going on, so I haven’t looked for help there.
But the doctor reminded me that, regardless, my emotions are valid and that they need an outlet. So I need to find some
poor friends who will let me talk about my feelings. I’ve avoided this for the most part because who wants to burden people with their baggage? When I told the doctor this he countered with the fact that friends are there for these times and that unloading some of this can actually strengthen a friendship.
I left feeling 1,000 times better–I had that very real sense of a load taken off my shoulders. My take on time with a sports psychiatrist? Well worth the investment.
Would you ever see a sports psychologist/psychiatrist?