Injuries due to sports and from every day life can be inevitable yet utterly taxing to a person’s physical and mental health.

We as people have defining characteristics and activities of daily living that help make up who we are and ultimately, who we want to become. Minor setbacks can feel like an eternity when you are completely motivated to become a better version of you.

For you to better know me, let me provide a quick background: I have never truly been a very healthy person being diagnosed with asthma, scoliosis and abdominal problems from an early age. I have also suffered from an eating disorder and anxiety for the better part of my life.

Injuries and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Finding and learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has provided me with an outlet to help control and combat these mental and physical ailments. I have learned how to slow and control my asthmatic breathing so well. I have studied a plethora of techniques to help my back stretch properly for my scoliosis. Even more so, the stressors of regular life that most people succumb to at times have been successfully put at bay until this past November when I sustained back-to-back concussions leaving me out of work and BJJ for over two months. In short, I lost my myself.

I came back stronger because that’s what humans are programmed to do. We are resilient and we are fighters – we just have to be able to find that and channel it within ourselves.

Mental Health Matters, Too

I have been on the “up and up” competing, winning and learning more about myself until, again recently, my migraines and nausea have returned and I can hardly tolerate going out in public or working my 12.5 hour shifts at the hospital as a RN.  (Side note: any concussed people have this issue? Do you feel like hot weather makes it worse? Let ya girl know!) I feel horrible but I hate telling people because they cannot physically see any problems with me. It is human nature to judge one another especially when they have no obvious signs of deformity or disability. I have been so concerned with how others view me and my lack of physical progress that I have forgotten (yet again) that my mental health is just as important and that I could actually do more physical damage if I keep training and being so active.

Do I look like I’m slacking in Jiu Jitsu? Am I getting fat? Are people advancing quicker than I am? I was just promoted to blue belt a year ago but will I now ultimately become a blue belt statistic forever? How am I to live life for a little without this MMA that I have come to love? Is this normal to be so paranoid? Can I still eat that slice of pizza since I’m not working out tonight? Am I going to lose friends because they’re not interested in who I am when I am not doing Jiu Jitsu? Am I sure these symptoms are still post concussive? These are just a small sampling of questions that race through my mind every day.

I would love to hear from you. Have you experienced an illness or problem that has put life on pause or set you back? Let me say this – if you have NOT, you are probably in the minority.

Protect Yourself and Your Health

We are relentless, persistent and we desire to live better than our yesterdays. This is normal. It is what we are taught to do from the time we are young. Grounded in generations of traditional beliefs and attitudes, humans are not designed to fail. So what happens when we do? We feel overwhelmed, under-appreciated and confused at times. Normal. You are not alone.

What should we do next? I have not completely figured it out yet but take care of yourself. STOP – Stop doing anything or being around anyone that makes you feel inferior. We are our biggest critics and it is no one’s business when we are having a bad day (unless we feel like sharing, of course).

At the end of the day, you can protect yourself and your health best.

Reach out to those that lift you up.

Do not be afraid to seek professional help.


Get off social media at times – that stuff can be toxic when you are in poor spirits.

Dwell in nature and possibilities.

Go watch your favorite activity until you can participate again.

Find another hobby.

Cheer others on and be happy for their successes.

Treat yourself to good food and new memories.

Find balance and moderation in your activity.

Realize that your worst day could potentially be someone else’s best day.

Do I sound like a pre-made sign from Home Goods yet? Maybe I should take up a hobby in fortune cookie writing, who knows. Either way, I promise this advice can work if you try hard enough and believe in yourself. Good luck.

Leave a Reply

  1. Sarah

    I love this article! BJJ has helped me tremendously through PTSD, depression and anxiety. The calming breathing that helps your asthma stops panic attacks before they have a chance to start for me.
    Since it’s so important to me, anytime a n injury takes me off the mats I struggle the same way as you. It’s a huge piece of who I am. I cope best by still going – taking mental notes, actively watching my teammates and trying to figure out why they make the choices they do and thinking about what I would do in those situations. You can learn a lot by reflection and by actively watching.

    My ex had several bad concussions – car accident, martial arts, a bad fall. He definitely still experiences some random effects. It gets better with time. Hang in there!

  2. jcb

    Sorry for your concussion, try to train as safe as you can, sport is for building you, not destroying you.
    Not special illness for me, but like everybody, I had to manage problems too. Too personal to write here, but in private message I could tell.