I don't like calling it depression, because to me I'm not depressed and I've never once said I was. I've said I've crashed and burned mentally, am having mental struggles or have gotten knocked down.
During this time I haven't been able to work out as often as I used to three months ago. Because, what's the point? I stand there, in the dojo, and get confused, start off on the wrong kata, head starts to spin, all the techniques feels half arsed, and in the middle of all I start yawning. And the people not knowing what's going on starts asking me why I'm sitting down and not participating. It's not that I don't want to, I just can't, and I'm afraid to miscalculate a kick or a punch and hurt my opponent, or misstep and make myself go flying into someone or the wall. More often that not I exit the dojo feeling like I've been punched in the head several times, even though all we have done is kata and kihon.
Even going to the gym is a struggle. Just knowing that I will fight myself through the two or three exercises I can do without getting tired is not very motivating. And to just think, before this all started I was about to increase the weights and/or reps on every exercise in my full body program! And now it feels like I'm back on square one, just starting off again like I did 2-3 years ago. The worst part is, I know I need to work out to avoid all the different problems I already have with my body. Hip flexors, shoulder strain, arthritis...
I told Terje sensei at the annual SKAN championship a month ago, that I haven't lost interest. I just can't find the motivation. And that is completely the truth. Every time I see someone training karate, I remember I used to have that joy on my face and in my mind not too long ago. I want to get back to that place! And that's the only motivation I have to keep trying, and never to quit.
Even though these mental struggles has taken a toll on my self confidence, and has demotivated me, I haven't stopped working out in the dojo or at the gym. I've shown up at training on the days that hasn't consisted of meltdown, and I've participated on things I feel I can handle. Sometimes I've sat there looking at everyone else and feeling that I miss it, that I want to be there with them. I just can't.
Some weeks I've trained 2-3 times, other weeks zero. But that's counting physical training. Every day I have been working out mentally, either if it's just having a walk, going to work, or even writing! Not all training gives soreness in your muscles, it can also give soreness in your mind.
When I failed the black belt exam this summer, my thoughts were to try again this Christmas. But after less than half this semester, even before the first knock down, I had doubts about making it in time. And after the bang, I knew I had to drop something, and it was a given choice to drop the exam. I'm glad I dropped it. Karate isn't a race, it's a marathon. And if I'm not there mentally I shouldn't even attempt shodan!
I have decided to take the exam again Christmas 2014. I'm hoping that will give me enough time to get back in training and to find the motivation I need to pass.
To make this happen, I have taken another step back. I've resigned as an instructor in the club, and will act as a temp if another instructor is sick or has other obligations. When I said this to the other instructors, they were supportive of my choice and understood why I had to do it. I love being an instructor, but if it means that I will be able to work myself up to participate in training again it is a good choice. And I actually feel relieved to not having to come to the dojo with students waiting for me, but doing it in my own time.
I believe working out has kept me strong for a longer time than without it, and not completely letting all this negativity seep in. I also believe that without karate and martial arts I would never have become as self confident as I was half a year ago. And now it will help me to rebuild myself and make me find the motivation and self confidence again. I just have to take it one step at the time.
Taking a few steps back once in a while is not a defeat. It can actually be healthy, and will help one see the bigger picture.