At the end of the 2017 summer, just after my team and I got home from Mayday Mayhem – my first ever American tournament – I began to descend into what I can only describe as a derby depression.
At first I felt exhausted and directionless – “play in U.S tournament” was literally my main goal when I joined CCR. I did that… now what? But I also felt guilty and a bit cheated that I didn’t have the #besttimeever in Colorado.
My first and only experience of a big tournament was not what I expected – I fouled out twice (or was it three times??), I really struggled to adapt to the reffing (maybe I should’ve just cut my arms off??) and pressure of rankings points really got to me.
We won exactly how many games we were predicted to and I really loved living in a house (with a hot tub) with my team but I still came home feeling utterly gutted with the experience.
Do you know what also felt extremely empty?
My bank account! Roller derby is expensive, even more so when you live 60 miles away. And even more so when you have lots of away games. Add on a trip to Colorado and I think it’s safe to say that high level derby is not exactly cheap.
If you’re thinking of transferring to an out-of-town league, underestimate the costs involved at your peril! Money stress is the real deal. 0/10 Do Not Recommend.
The rest of the summer my attendance sucked – honestly, the thought of driving all that way gave me severe anxiety. I had absolutely no motivation do it. But the day I really understood something was up was just before our game against Rainy City B:
Usually before a game I’m at least nervous if not nervous-excited, if not almost throwing up with nerves! However I’m feeling, there is usually a lot of energy involved whether that’s positive or negative. But this time, I felt nothing. I didn’t care. I didn’t care if I played, I didn’t care if we won or lost, I didn’t care if I never skated ever again. I was completely numb*.
During all this time, a pain was growing in intensity in my ankles that, at first, I genuinely thought was just because I was now over 30 and this is what happens when you get old! I could barely walk first thing in the mornings but then it would disappear after half an hour. Then they would ache A LOT after skating. Then they started to ache DURING skating. Then, after a scrim in London, I could barely walk at all!
This was the excuse I’d been waiting for. It was permission for me to take a real break from roller derby. Because just feeling mentally exhausted isn’t a good enough reason, right?!
Here are some of the reasons I kept skating, even when I knew I needed a break:
- I’m just being pathetic, other skaters seem to be able to manage the commute, the off-skates training, way more committee work than I ever do and work proper full-time jobs. If I say I can’t cope, I’m just being a baby.
- What will people think of me? Will they think I’m being lazy? Will people say that I”m not cut out for a higher level? Maybe I’m not?
- Maybe I feel fine and I’m just imagining it all. Maybe I just need to keep training and it will all be ok.
If a friend had said these things to me, I would have told them to TAKE A GODDAMN BREAK. But brains are weird and sometimes its hard to admit defeat and you need to be physically incapacitated to force you to do the right thing.
Don’t be like me – listen to you BRAIN as much as you listen to your body and remember that those feelings are completely and one-hundred-percent valid reasons for taking a break from roller derby.
Stay tuned for to find out what I’ve learned by taking 4 months off.
If you can relate to this, let me know!
*Incidentally, I feel like I actually played really well! Apparently when you don’t waste all your energy feeling nervous you have more energy for actually playing roller derby. Who knew?!
P.S. The Facebook group has had an overhaul and we’re now called Derby Strong! Come join us and lets get mind, body, derby strong!