First of all let me start by saying THANK YOU !!! To each and every one of you who took time out of their day to read that long ass essay I wrote, to every person that I know and also don't know that messaged me such kind and honest words... I really was overwhelmed with its reception and couldn't be more thankful. I really didn't believe that anyone ever read my blog, of course my mum does- but she has to- but it helps me, it soothes me, it gives me that creative buzz and leaves me feeling on top of the world, in turn if it has helped someone along their way for the day, let them have a laugh or a smile or not feel so alone.. well theres really not much else I could dream of .
I am one week away from hitting my 5 months post op and my goodness time feels like its slipping away at my fingertips. In a good way that is- the first two months were all teeth gritting and I couldn't even see a slither of light but as I'm hitting my kind of half way (lets pray) mark the train is getting faster with not as many stops on the travel and i can see the end of the tunnel up ahead of me. Like with most recoveries, that journey from the point of damage or trauma to the return of who and what you were before or actually lets say BETTER (because I am going to come out on top of this and "slay girl slayyyyyyyyy") it is hard to grasp and understand what the person is undergoing emotionally and physically unless you have experienced it for yourself. There are things that many of you are experiencing right now that I may never be able to fully comprehend and sometimes no matter how hard someone tries there is nothing like having someone who is in the same triathlon running side by side with you or having them waiting at the finish line shouting words of encouragement.
I met a boy, lets call him Dorris because I know how much he loves it, by the magic of the universe whilst awaiting to check in for my flight to LA. Not only is he hilarious, kind hearted, always surprising me with his intelligence and of course annoying but he is also a fellow ACL Veteran who has just been cleared to head back to his passion. Having someone who is a few steps ahead, understands the ups and downs, the emotions, the triumphs no matter how small and all the insanity that comes along with it has meant the world to me . We share moments like "holy shit man my knee feels like shit today, It keeps clicking and I'm freaking out. Ive definitely torn the graft again" followed ten minutes later by "Phew! Physio checked it and its all good , you were right, I'm going insane" and then burst out laughing at ourselves at the fear a big recovery like this brings. Thanks Dorris for being my knee buddy through all he high fives when we reach goals and the teary phone calls oh and also the late night salsa clubs. I also have to thank others like CJ and Sammy who have also gone through knee and hip recoveries and have shared their stories and calmed my heart and mind. To all the other fighters recovering with me like Natalie, heres a giant hug- we got this !!!
Living with my family for the first time in 7 years has been a huge blessing of this recovery. Not only have we created and shared so many moments that I have missed the past few years whizzing around for my career. They have been the ones to hold my body and heart together through this whole thing- Mum has cradled me as I've had my breakdowns, Gab has surprised me with her wise words and compassion, Dad has soothed my head when it gets too much. I cannot thank them enough for always being there and just knowing when I am having a day.
Recovery has been moving well. I ran on the treadmill for a total of 6 minutes yesterday without pain for the first time ( woo goals !) , I did my first Ballet saute, I jumped forwards and backwards, hopped and held a pirouette prep for what Id proudly say would have been 6 turns... if i could turn that is ( oh wishful thinking ). All of these good things were happening this week but I felt a dark cloud starting to stir around my head. I felt like crying a few days and thought it was just the fear of returning to dance but eventually it came to me during meditation that I felt lonely. I was overwhelmed with feeling isolated and like I didn't have any friends around me . Living out of Sydney and not being able to have a quick coffee does worsen this feeling and even though my family were there, without friends I started my slow descent back to the early days of when this all began. "No one knows what I am going through", "No one knows I am drowning this week", "I don't have the relationships I thought I did" all started swirling around my head and it all became too much. People would ask - How are you ? I'd say alright and on the conversation would go - meanwhile my mind was screaming TASH! You have soon much to say that is eating you up right now and id leave the conversation feeling worse and like that person hadn't recognized that I was hurting. News Flash !!!! People cannot read your mind, people do not know what you are feeling ONLY YOU DO and people have much going on in their own lives thats already enough to handle. Upon a phone call to a friend where I finally let go and told her all the workings of my trickster mind this week- my lesson hit me. Sometimes... you need to ASK FOR HELP!. I have never been good at this because :
1. Im Tash the Happy, Bubbly, Positive Sunflower and I couldn't possibly let myself be that negative sook
2.Im strong, I can help myself - I do not need any friends to help me do so ( a belief built up from all my friends leaving me at a young age - hey there fear of abandonment)
3. I expect my friends to see what I'm feeling
See I know these things, I know they are wrong, I talk to my friends about their same problems yet I still hadn't cracked the code on myself. Social Media you monster for making our lives look glamorous and for letting us share our best moments and often hiding the ones we dread. Yes I was happy ticking goals but thats me trying to focus on the positive and boost myself back up because I couldn't do it anymore. I learnt my lesson- I do not always have to be strong for myself and others nor do I need to smile on the outside everyday and I cannot expect things of others. Much of my life has been bruised by myself because of the devil- EXPECTATIONS. I realized I need to have the courage to take myself out of the competition and say "I am not ok. I am having a really tough time drowning over here and I need your help". Oh its like magic, I said those words and all the support that was always there was finally felt by me because I actually opened and let myself crack a little to allow people in. My friends didn't even know I was having a tough time because I was always laughing and talking positively of what I was progressing in, they didn't know I felt isolated and lonely and most of all they weren't sure whether I wanted support or whether I had it covered and would see it as a "pity party". I dislike Pity parties very much, I am a backdoor bandit for those because "sorry" and "unfair" do not make me feel any better unless you bring some cheese with you to this party. I didn't need my friends to tell me it sucks, I needed them to listen, question me about the origins and then give me a little booster to get that smile back on my dial. After finally speaking up and spending hours on the phone with my "count on your hand" friends I am so thankful to be almost feeling back to skipping down the road (still can't actually skip, but you know what i mean). Thank you to Dorris, Kristina, Dani, Dan and Meg for helping me out when I couldn't do it myself and needed it. If you are anything like me and are used to being the strong one, don't make the mistake I did, sometimes you need a little crack to let the sunshine in and trust me your family and friends will have always been there waiting on the sidelines for you.
When I was a child I had an obsession with my hair. It had to be perfect, not a bump in sight and tight enough so that I grew a receding hairline and had a free face lift. If it didn't give me a headache I knew it wasn't tight enough. I had a ritual where I first used the spray bottle to drown it with water, next was the gel for all the whispy bits, the bun contained at least 50 pins and consisted of 20 or more attempts to make it perfect and then hairspray galore to complete it . If there was a bump, out it came and I tried again otherwise something bad might happen .My best friend bore witness to my craziness when I did my bun and began a flustered anxiety attack about the bump.. she told me it couldn't be more perfect but still the rage grew and tears were coming and before I knew I grabbed my bun screaming and ripped it out. There had been many red flags but I think this was the point my parents knew i was kind of crazy and something had to be done .
My father suffers from mental health issues so anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder were no unknown territory to our family. From a young age I watched him battle with himself , with us, the drama that accidently mixing the wrong medication delivers and the times it became all too much . I guess I was predisposed genetically to picking up these traits and my parents knew I might be on the road myself when perfectionism became my all time goal as did constant panic attacks. I would rip pages out at school if they were messy and not just one, but the entire thing and rewrite every page with an all consuming fear and disgust boiling over me, I would count the lines on the pavement and some nights I spent over the toilet bowl because life became too much.
I am so grateful that I have a family where honesty and talking out loud is super important. We didn't pretend Dad was ok or that my actions were normal. If Dad wasn't having a good day it was explained to us, if I was fixating over things and making myself sick from it they spoke to me as to why I was feeling like that , Dad sat next to my bed countless nights and took me through breathing exercises and when they saw I was heading towards a dark road they found a 3 month anxiety clinic being held by Macquarie university psychology PHD students and enrolled me in it . I didn't have to be dragged there, I actually looked forward to hearing that I wasn't the only crazy child and receiving some help to hush out the demons.
The next three months I realized my main fear was ( and still is !) people's perception of me especially when it comes to image - aah that's why I want to vomit when I walk through the school gates and the older girls are standing around but I'm convinced they are looking at my legs thinking I'm a weirdo and now I must convince mum to let me wax. Other leaders of my anxiety were my necessity to be on time, my need to be liked...by everyone, and life to basically be perfect . A goal which we all know we are kidding ourselves of.
Hearing the other children speak of their fears let me know I wasn't alone in this , there was nothing more comforting to my little soul. We learnt endless exercises and I cherished my giant folder, but the one that helped me the most was the "what ifs" detective work- an exercise where we would write down 10 bad things that would happen if our fear came true- then we would work through each event and in the end see that even the worst possible response wasn't as tragic as we envisioned it . It allowed me to be logical and see that yes one day i might run late to dance but it didn't mean that my mother would die. On the last day we faced our fears , for me this included walking into a bookshop with my hair in a teased mess and asking for a hairdressing book- yep you guessed it the bitch laughed at me (didn't she know I was a little anxious ticking time bomb ?!) but I used my exercises, breathed and realized it wasn't all that bad - actually it was pretty hilarious.
This exercise changed my life. Mum would run me through it every time I was about to combust into thin air and she actually still does it to this day. When anxiety kicks in all logic and rational thinking flies out the door for me and it is replaced by intense fear, panic, dread and usually fantasies of how the situation could turn out. This exercise allows me to see that the world is not about to come crumbling down, I will not die , the worst possible scenario is not near as life threatening as I imagine it . Yes it may hurt the ego, my feelings, or create an unwanted situation but there is usually always a solution.
That clinic improved my anxiety ten fold - daily melt downs turned to monthly instances . All until an event when I was 15, ( to be shared one day) my anxiety hit an all time high again. I couldn't sleep and would lie awake imagining scenarios and the different ways it could play out and would actually live in fantasies of my brain almost convincing myself at times that's how it happened or would turn out. Soon it was hard to decipher between reality and the dark vortex that my mind would spin when the lights went out. I didn't want to be on this earth any longer , and that was when I first met the monster called depression . If it wasn't for my therapist, my parents love and openness to accept life and let it help me grow into a warrior and my close friends I know I would not be here and I would not be who I am today.
It got better again, but that's the thing with anxiety - it never goes away .No matter how hard you work at it you aren't "cured" so to say . Its still a daily thing. I still wait in line to audition holding back the vomit and wanting to bash my head against a wall. Lets not even begin on the anxiety after I didn't get the job. A few years ago I used a paper bag to breath for my first full blown panic attack in years when I was late to a performance of grease and even though I had plenty of time to get ready , I was dying on the inside . I had failed and terrible things were awaiting me, I will be fired right here right now. Thank you Shan and Karla for calming me and helping me see through my over reaction. Now not every friend will know how to deal with your anxiety and moments, some are amazing like Lauren who was patient with me and helped me through a moment in Melbourne the other day , and some just see you as "crazy", a "drama queen" , over reactor and will be annoyed constantly and want out of your friendship. I've had plenty of those but I'm better off without them , not everyone will understand you and that's okay :) The main thing is that you love and understand yourself.
I'm not really sure where I'm going with this blog, I think I just felt like sharing my own experiences to show people - if anyone even reads these things- that they aren't alone and that some people understand :) I think I seem quite outgoing and bubbly and like i am confident but my secret is that on the inside I'm wishing I could fall off a cliff. Social situations sometimes make me numb with fear and I am processing and thinking way too much about every eye, body movement and word. I fear phone calls and even saying hello to people I know on the street- "will they think I'm a loser?" "Its going to be awkward" "They will definitely ignore me". I also never realized how much confidence I lacked in dance class until a teacher in LA brought it up and made me dance by myself- I thought holy shit I have been hiding this so well, even to myself !!!
Even though I wish my brain wasn't overloaded with anxious thoughts and In turn sending my body into havoc... I think my anxiety has helped me ! It has made me constantly work hard to achieve the best of myself, be loyal, get things done and go out of my comfort zone . If you suffer from anxiety and are reading this I hope you have endless love and support around you and that you find some positives in it also !