Hanging In There: An Unsettled Mind In The Lead Up To U24s

Last night I had a dream that a bunch of AFL players took our spots on the team during a training camp, and the only way we could escape was to sprint up a giant hill and climb over a jagged barbed wire fence. Other recent dreams I’ve had include falling down a giant staircase, being snaked during a game by Pauline Hanson, and dropping dumbbells on my face at the gym. None of these dreams make sense and none of them are logical. But it gives you a good idea of where my head is at with three weeks to go until U24s kicks off in Heidelberg.

The phrase “P.T.B.” gets thrown around a lot - the post-tournament blues that hits when you’re forced to leave the frisbee bubble and return to your usual, perhaps mundane, routine. But what about pre-tournament anxiety? I’m not particularly scared of playing at Worlds. Sure I’m nervous, but that feels reasonable. What I have been feeling is a kind of hyper-awareness of my body, and the looming, relatively illogical sense, that I have no control of what could happen to it.

It comes in ebbs and flows. At its peak, it’s like I’ve suddenly noticed all of the individual bones and muscles there are in my body, each with the potential to get bruised and smooshed and torn and broken.

I’m weary of how I stand at work, how that long shift in formal shoes made by foot ache and the dread that it’ll get worse tomorrow. I’m aware of my posture, of how when I’m tired I lean into my left hip and my shoulders gets tight. Is that an ache or have I done something? Is that from training or will it fade? Should I rest this week until it goes away? But then I miss a week of training. I don’t want to go backwards.

All I want is to feel strong and for my body to hold itself together.

It feels shit to feel vulnerable, like you have no control. Chances are you’ve felt like this, stuck on the sideline after some unfortunate turn of events. Maybe a strain, break or a nice bout of gastro, and the only thing that can fix you is time and time and more time. And by the time your body’s had enough time to heal, too much time has passed and the tournament is long gone, and there’s no time-travel to take you back in time, but even if you could time travel would that change the past and then you wouldn’t be you and maybe you’d never be playing frisbee in the first place…

Despite the existential crisis you may think I am having after that ridiculous train of thought, I am not injured and I’m actually holding myself together pretty well. Turns out the mental strength programs we do during club seasons do help if you actually buy into them.

The six weeks between the Stingray’s last camp and Worlds (t-minus 17 days) should have felt like this beautiful, open space of opportunity to keep training and improving. And it did for the most part. But this little devil of a voice has also made it feel like an ominous pool of dangerous possibilities that I could fall into with one wrong step. It’s so easy to fall into this fearful pattern and think about the worse-case scenarios.

But it’s fucking dumb, useless and gets me absolutely nowhere.

Standing up at work is not going to ruin my body and I will not be replaced by a bunch of (very attractive) AFL players. So every time I feel exhausted and drained after a hard day of work and my foot aches, or I dream that I do my ACL, I give myself some love and #positive #affirmations.

I am strong.

I have worked hard to get stronger.

My body is stronger than those thoughts make me feel.

If I can survive growing up with a horrible older brother I can get through anything.

That last one’s a joke but you get the point. I also sometimes meditate. Or I watch the game from NZ Nationals where I get a hand block and I feel BIG. Or I think of my fellow Stingray Thea Pulbrook, who has been training with one hand for months, and remind myself that I don’t have to be 100% to make gains.

Most of the time these tools have been successful and I can shove those negative thoughts aside, do a gym set, and I really feel strong. And sometimes they don’t work and I have a lil weep and feel sorry for myself.

I am a complex mind and a complex body and there are so many variables both in and out of my control. If something does happen in the next three weeks that puts me on the sideline…. ahh well. I know I’ve done everything in my power and I’m just going to have to be kind to myself and deal with it.

Do you dream of doing your ACL or getting snaked by a racist politician? If you have any hot tips for dealing with it, let me know! If reading player profiles of beautiful angels is your solution, here’s some reading material from the 2019 Stingrays.


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