Saturday, February 28, 2015

The calm after an awesome storm

Since November I have been an assistant coach for the girls basketball team at my old high school. I have loved it. It has been so much fun and I've learned a lot more about the the greatest game ever invented by coaching. It's a whole different angle than playing! But it has been quite a storm too.

When I started coaching back in November I never thought once about how Lyme Disease would effect coaching. But it impacted a lot of how I coached. 

I'm competitive. I like to win. I used to thrive off of intense games. But our first away game the Sophomore and JV games were both super close and after the first one I had to go outside and breathe. I was having the heart racing, gut wrenching, hyperventilating panic attack. I walked out to the schools football field shaking and crying over a game that we won by just a few points. I couldn't calm down, and I was late for the JV game trying to get a grip.

The term "too close for comfort" brought new meaning to me. My comfort was not an option while coaching. As soon as the ball was tipped up into the air I felt like I could hardly breath until we were at least 15-20 points ahead, which hardly ever happened. We had a tough preseason, and an even tougher region ahead.

I started to wonder if I could handle coaching. Not because the practices were rigorous or the girls were too hard to coach, the girls were great! But I couldn't handle a close game. I knew I couldn't expect us to blow out teams by 30 points each game. That isn't basketball at all. So I just decided that I had to hold all that anxiety in. I was calm and quiet outside, but inside, most games (especially the close intense ones), I was a terror! After games I was exhausted. During pre season we had a lot of ups and downs and I chewed my fingernails like they were bubble gum. They bled and hurt really bad because I was just paranoid and freaking out so bad. 

Part of the problem was my thought process. At the beginning I wanted to grab my old uniform and jump out on the court and help the girls get the win. It was sorta a rude wake up call for me when I realized that 1) I don't have a prayer of playing a game with the girls! I probably couldn't even find the energy to play a half court pick up game. And 2) number 32 belongs to a different girl now. I had to change my thought process to realize those two things and it took me pretty much all preseason to get over it.

Then region started and boy howdy was our region tough! But I did feel like I was getting a handle on the anxiety. I wasn't as exhausted after games. I wasn't completely wasted the next day from so much emotional exhaustion. I was pretty proud of myself for holding up. I couldn't get too riled up though. And I always seemed to shut down when things got exciting. When my dad (the other assistant coach) started to yell at the refs it was my job to make sure he didn't get a Technical Foul. But when things got crazy like that I had to shut down and just focus on breathing. Those were some of my least favorite and most exhausting games. But I controlled myself in most games.

Then we went to state. I was so proud of the girls! I went to state my Jr. And Senior year and I was so happy for them. We got on the bus to drive to Salt Lake and as soon as we pulled into the parking lot of SLCC I felt so sick. I was breathing fast again. I had to go to the bathroom and tell myself to breath and calm down. I was angry at myself. How could I be this anxious? I wasn't even this nervous when I was playing! I was frustrated and new I needed to control myself before going into the locker room with the other coaches. I couldn't say anything in the locker room. It was taking every ounce of me to just breath and not cry. 

After our win (in OT, which practically did me in) I was so emotionally exhausted. That night I went to Texas Roadhouse with my family and broke down crying when I looked at the menu because I was so overwhelmed by the choices and the game that had just happened that I came unglued. I didn't know how I was going to be able to handle another game at state.

Two to back to back games later and we lose in the Semifinals. I was proud of the girls for making it that far. But so emotionally spent. After the locker room I went and sat by my mom and just wanted to pass out. I was done. And I was bumbed, I loved coaching, I wanted them to go to the finals. But I also couldn't help feeling a little bit relieved that it was over, and I feel ashamed that I felt that way. I feel really bad about that, because I know it's not me, but it's these limitations that I have that come with this disease. 

Anxiety is crippling. It's not just first day of school butterflies or when you go on a date with a guy you really like. It is mentally, emotionally and physically enabling. The pressure I had on me from coaching is gone but I loved it. I want to keep doing it because u know as I continue to get better I won't be as anxious over close games, or noisy fans. It was a killer storm to ride these last couple months, but totally worth it.

-The Lyme Warrior