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Injury & Depression

by jenny sansouci on February 21, 2012

Ok, folks. It’s time to get real here. I find that when I get honest about what’s going on in my life, it helps more people. So here’s a little tale for you.

At the beginning of last week, I twisted my ankle somehow. I had been walking around in the park for 2 hours and felt totally fine, but when I got home I could hardly get up the stairs. I thought maybe it was some phantom pain that would go away in a few hours so I tried to ignore it. Much to my frustration, though, this biting pain in my ankle lasted all week and I could hardly walk.

I work from home, and I make a point every single day to get out of the house and exercise. Whether it’s a jog in the park, a yoga class or just a short walk, I need that time outside of my home/workspace to feel balanced. Also, working from home makes it more necessary to get out and socialize with people.

Well – having a twisted ankle made none of this possible. I couldn’t leave the apartment or really even walk around at all for about 5 days. I have to admit, feeling isolated really took a toll on me emotionally.

I’ve heard a lot of people say (especially active people, athletes, etc) that getting injured causes them to become depressed. Although my injury was just a minor ankle twist, and I have no idea what it would be like to be seriously injured, I can totally relate to the feeling.

After going through some serious ups and downs last week I realized a few things that made me feel better and a few things that made me feel worse, so I wanted to share them here.

These tips aren’t just for people who are suffering from injuries and feel depressed – it’s for anyone feeling down, in general!

Injury & Depression Do’s & Don’ts:


  • Sit around moping and feeling sorry for yourself.
  • Compare yourself to others and assume everyone else is having the best time ever.
  • Eat sugar. Sugar makes bad moods so much worse.
  • Isolate and ignore emails and phone calls.
  • Sit around analyzing your life.
  • Focus only on what’s going wrong.
  • Give up on moving your body at all.
  • Sit around on Facebook all day.
  • Watch only mindless TV.
  • Think about all of the things you’re missing out on.


  • Try to exercise in whatever way you can – even if it’s just stretching.
  • Call people. Reaching out to others is the best medicine in the world.
  • Try to help someone. The phrase “when you’re feeling helpless, help someone” is so true. Even if you feel down in the dumps, there’s probably someone’s day you could brighten just by saying “how are you?”
  • Use your down time to catch up on a great book, write a new business plan, or work on something creative.
  • Write in your journal. Morning pages can work miracles.
  • Write gratitude lists. When we’re feeling crappy, it’s so easy to focus on what’s not going right. Focus on what is great.
  • Read a little bit of an uplifting book every day – I recommend “Journey to the Heart” by Melody Beattie. It has just one snippet for each day of the year. Easy.
  • Drink a lot of water and eat leafy greens. (Leafy greens are like sunlight to the body).
  • Rest. Chances are, if you injured yourself, you’re probably like me and don’t take enough time to rest in your normal life.
  • Meditate. Sit quietly and try to focus on your breath, just for a few minutes.
  • Light candles. Play soothing music. Turn your home into a healing atmosphere.
  • Check out these foods that fight depression and other effective natural remedies for depression.
  • Again…reach out to people! Seriously, make that phone call. It’s the hardest thing to do but also the best.

Anyone relate to getting injured or feeling depressed or isolated?
What works for you (or doesn’t work for you)? Your comments help so many people. Please share!


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

nicolle February 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Thanks for sharing this! I just fractured my elbow snowboarding this past Sunday so this is perfect timing! As an athlete this is going to be a challenge for me!

Also, i love your blog! It has replaced Perez Hilton in my daily routine. Healthy Crush is crowding out!


Lauren Musick February 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Thank you for sharing this, Jenny. I broke my pinky toe last week and although it is a small injury it has prevented me from running, which has been very hard. I’m using this time to really take care of myself and watch what I eat because I can’t get my normal cardio in. Your article was very helpful and I’m purchasing “Journey to the Heart” right away!


Rachel February 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm

2012 is the year of authenticity! Love this!!


Jeanne February 22, 2012 at 11:33 am

If anyone can bounce back from life’s challenges – it’s you! Thanks for the reminder and tips about how to dig ourselves out of an injury induced coma ๐Ÿ™‚


Megan February 24, 2012 at 9:04 am

Jenny–great post! I went through this is a HUGE way after I finished my college volleyball career and had to have 2 major hip operations over the span of a couple years with endless physical therapy. After being an athelte my entire life and having practice in excess of 4 hours a day for 4 years of college, I was told I wasnt supposed to run anymore or play sports that involve hardwood floor, running, jumping, basically any high impact. What a life changer!!! I certainly went through a very low point but it made me examine MANY things in my life and come out being grateful that I could be healthy AND happy with finding new ways to stay fit. It became a challenge to find things that gave me an awesome workout while keeping my hip in check! Without my injury, I never would have found yoga which has also helped my rehab immensely! During times like these its important for us to step back and see that it might be a setback but there is ususaly something we CAN do! (Hey, my arms got ripped from months on crutches!) My tips for someone facing a similar situation? Work on your flexilibity/ workout your arms if its a leg injury and vise versa for an arm injury/take this time to strengthen your lower back and core/cultivate your meditation practice/go outdoors….who knows, the injury may lead you a new activity you love and will continue to do after the injury resolves!
Thanks for shedding light on the subject–its a big one!


Ryan April 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I’m typing this on my blackberry so it won’t be to long, but as 19 year athelete that’s gone through 2 knee surgeries and is currently recovering from bilateral tennis elbow, the depression caused by these injuries caused me to withdraw from everything (should’ve read your don’t list first!). In all seriousness, I thought I was worthless, and that yes, everyone else was living their lives to the fullest while I was stuck. I almost ended up taking my own life it got so bad, it’s been the defining struggle of my life. Being athletic is my identity and it’s so easy to feel lost and alone when I’m limited physically. I can totally identify with this post. Good luck to evryone else recovering, we can do this!


LH March 12, 2013 at 9:47 am

This was helpful. I’m currently sat at home sulking, after just returning to football from a bad ankle sprain two months ago, my second match back and some one landed on my other ankle and sprained it. The chances of this were few and far between and I am absolutely gutted! So reading this whilst sulking i realised i am doing all the things on your “dont” list.

Maybe if i tried to do the things on your “do” list i will feel a little better….maybe….


pjr May 9, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Yah. I just wanted to say thank you and to share my story.
So I’m in AIT for my combat medic training and 2 weeks and I break my finger playing basketball on my free time. At first I was mad then I got ok after I had surgery and a cast put on. I had 2 weeks of leave to sort things out and I was fine. Now I’m back and everyone around me is still pushing forward with training already week 7/16 while I’m healing not knowing when I can start my training back up (i also have to start back at day 1 for missing so many days) and it’s starting to get to me. I felt like I’m wasting time I can’t do what I want to do because I’m in military training process and I just feel like what I did was a waste. But I read your article and I wanted to thank you I was doing everything you said not to do lhaha. I’m usually a happy person but the situation just ruins it for me


cjd June 7, 2013 at 3:46 am

Thanks for sharing. I just broke my finger in 3 places. As with you, not a major injury — the doc thinks I’ll be OK in 6 weeks. But until then I can’t use my dominant hand, and I’m in chronic pain. And, even worse, it hurts like hell when I bump it on anything (even inside the cast/splint) — which is conditioning me to just want to sit in bed and do nothing.

Alas, I have a huge work deadline for a client. A once-in-a-lifetime-I’ll-probably-lose-my-job-if-I-don’t-finish-this type of deadline. It seems that if I was in a car accident or something, I could tell the client that I’m on sick leave. But I’m sitting here in the office with one good hand, finding it much harder to work. But I think this is due 30% to physical inability and 70% to the related frustration/depression.


AT June 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Thanks for this great article! I tore my calf muscle about 2 weeks ago(now requiring crutches, a boot, and virtually no activity – which is a huge change from my normally fit and active lifestyle). Needless to say, I have been really struggling with all of these feelings ever since… culminating in a low point today (my wedding anniversery) because we had to cancel our vacation and I feel like such a downer. I’ve definitely been self-indulging in all the “Don’ts” on your list. But I am printing out your list to hang on my fridge, and will start focusing on the “Dos” right now!! Knowing that others have gone through the same thing, and pushed past it, is inspiring! Thank you!


Nicole November 12, 2013 at 6:35 am

I just wanted to say thanks for the motivation to look at injury as an opportunity rather than a loss. I’m currently in my 2nd month of recovering from a hip injury and am sick of feeling depressed about being side lined from running . Patience is such a hard thing to accept in Times like these but your words hit a chord with me. Injury is just a short time in all of our lives and the sooner we can understand that the sooner we will be able to overcome it ๐Ÿ™‚


Whitney February 3, 2015 at 4:01 am

Thanks for this blog post. I fractured my ankle four weeks ago and had to have surgery. These last few days have been really tough and I don’t think my fiance understands all of the ups and downs. I can’t seem to get a grip. So I am encouraged that even though my injury has only been four weeks, it may be ok for me to be dealing with a little depression especially since I know I have a long road ahead. I will definitely start making an effort to do some of the things you listed so I don’t fall deeper into the abyss. Thank yoy again.


Joseph October 9, 2016 at 3:16 am

You were injured for a week that’s easy for you to say but when your stuck inside in excruciating pain for over a month then write an article and tell me what to do and not to do. Repetition is actually very depressing and forcing yourself to exercise in some circumstances is wrong, I’ve actually done most on both of your lists, nothing helps the fact your house is literally your jail cell. That week caused by you walking on your injury in the first place must have been soooo hard, considering you work from home anyway, so how hard was it really. Because I’m bored and got fired because of my injury , I’m 23 and live alone in sydney AUS with $450 rent pw… but nooo don’t worry about a thing, it’s called life lady, can’t just forget all the bad things and meditate, especially the only thing I would think about was wow my leg really hurts as a little reminder. Call me cynical or what you will but I am realistic and yes piece of mind comes within but I am not going to take advice from someone who leaves their house so rarely and actually makes no ey from doing that. I live my life around athleticism and movement, none of this self help bullshit is gonna do anything. Thanks heaps!!


jenny sansouci October 10, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Hey Joseph, I hope you recover quickly and feel better soon. This definitely isn’t an article trying to “tell you what to do,” I was simply sharing what helped me when I was going through a short-term injury. I’m sorry the blog wasn’t helpful for you, but I really do hope you find something that is!

Good luck and all the best,


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