Continuing her series of articles about hearing voices, Jane Fisher discusses maintaining our health through physical trauma
In the aftermath of a physical injury, much effort is given to ensuring a smooth recovery. Consideration for the mental impact of injury is often left by the wayside, leading to 15% of injured people developing depression within one month of their injury, according to a study by Nottingham Trent University. Clearly, the changes to your day-to-day life and mobility that injury brings can create side effects for your mental health, no matter the length of recovery.
In your downtime from injury, it’s important to take care of your mental health. The isolation and free time you encounter may ease you into hearing voices. Coming to terms with that voice can help to strengthen your mind and aid your recovery. With physical recovery, this can be a day-to-day challenge. However, supporting your mental health is very possible, and is achieved through reaching out to people and ensuring you make the most of every day.
Staying strong through recovery
Physical injury will often take a person away from their normal day-to-day routines and severely limit their ability to live and work as they are used to. This is a shock for regular people, and can be extremely frustrating for very active people and athletes. Athletes in particular, who are used to a crowded work environment and team play in every day of their life, can be prone to hearing voices. Recovery is equally difficult; physiotherapy is a crucial part of recovery but can act as a reminder, as previously tasks take superhuman effort. The effect has been well documented in footballers; a recent article in the Guardian with a sports psychologists reported that 99% of injured players experienced psychological disruption.
Maintaining your mental strength through this tough period relies on you talking. Internally, you might struggle and be frustrated when you aren’t able to move fully. But talking to people involved, being open with your feelings and asking for support will help to give you the boost you need. Increasingly, physiotherapists are being recognised for their mental health role, too; check in with them, be realistic, and help them to support you. Listening to your voices is part of this, and can give you insight into your condition.
Making every day count
The inability to get out and about can lead to mental health symptoms. The Mental Health Foundation have found that of the UK’s 15 million physically disabled people, 26% have a mental health condition. Being less mobile than others can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness and an overall sense of deflation. For people who were previously active and are unable to complete their routines, these feelings can be exacerbated.
For the duration of your recovery, its important to make the most out of your days and pay close attention to your mental health. Even if you can’t get out and about, try developing a hobby. Having actionable goals, and something to work towards and care about, is good for your mental health. Furthermore, take opportunities as they arise – if you’re able to get out into nature through a trip with friends, do it. Even taking in fresh air through the garden, if possible, can be of great benefit.
Physical illness is thought of as the name suggests – purely physical. As research has shown, it can also have a detrimental effect on your mental health. The key to staying happy and healthy is through utilising your support network and keeping yourself engaged every day. Use voices to support yourself, and always be honest to your own feelings.