I’ve been in Chicago now for almost 8 months. As you might have noticed, my blogging stopped around month 2 and I haven’t uploaded many pictures or videos to Facebook. So what’s going on?

Don’t worry, I’m still doing circus! We’ve had some amazing lab weeks…and I fully intend to come back and write about those because they were so impactful, but this post is about struggle, so here goes:

It was easy for me to fall into negative thinking. After all, being injured sucks. I’m living in Chicago while my fiancé, my business, my work, my cat, my friends, and my home are in South Dakota. My time in Chicago has an expiration date…why bother with people?

I am depressed, and my body is broken.

Many of my days this year have looked like this:

  • Wake up at 3 AM. Go back to sleep.
  • Wake up at 4 AM. Go back to sleep.
  • Wake up at 6 AM to my alarm. Hit snooze every 5 minutes for an hour.
  • “I didn’t need to wash my hair today anyway.”
  • Log in to work for an hour and a half before school. Try not to get frustrated with never having enough time to find a good stopping point. I feel like I’m never doing enough and I long for the office environment where I get so much more done.
  • Go to school to do ankle and hip rehab, handstands, and whatever else my body can tolerate that day, and then sit on the side of classes, telling myself “letting your body heal IS productive.”
  • Limp home, eat my chili, shower, climb into bed at 7:30, and listen to an audiobook while playing Spider Solitaire.
  • Realize I haven’t been listening for 5 minutes - no, wait...2 hours?! - and turn it off.
  • Sometimes I fall asleep with the light on.

One Saturday I laid in bed all day because I couldn’t decide what to do. Nothing sounded appealing. I tried listening to an audiobook. I knew I needed to do laundry, but I just didn’t care.

My favorite Tank for doctor appointments. note my beautiful face.

My favorite Tank for doctor appointments. note my beautiful face.

In December, I sprained my ankle doing a back tuck on trampoline. I sat out of dance, tumbling, acro, and trampoline classes for over 2 months. I couldn’t climb the silks with my feet for about 8 weeks, and footlocks were out of the question.

It hasn’t been all bad of course! The good thing about silks is that I don’t particularly need both feet… so I modified my act and ended up performing 2 weeks in a row in February – once in Chicago and once in Sioux Falls. The showcase was awesome, and I am so proud of all the students and so grateful to the team that keeps Cirque Dakota thriving.

And the last week of February, I was having a GREAT week. I added a rotation to a drop on silks. I played with new material. I was slowly getting comfortable on trampoline again. I was able to participate more in dance, and I could kick up into handstands and cartwheels from my bad ankle..

But the next week I could hardly walk. Something is not right with my hip. And so I was back to sitting out of most classes, including silks this time.

It’s not the first time I’ve had hip issues, but this is definitely the worst of my flare ups. Finally ready to do something about it, I went to the doctor over Spring Break and got an MRI. Turns out I have a torn labrum (which I already suspected). That is the ring of cartilage between the ball and socket of the hip joint.

After talking to an orthopedic surgeon, it’s still unclear as to whether I will need surgery, but I am hopeful that with physical therapy, I might not need it. Labrums don’t heal themselves, but if I can get the muscles around my hip joint to fire correctly and build up strength in my glutes and low abs, my pain should decrease, and my range of motion should come back. With one session of PT, I’ve already seen quite a bit of progress. The PT did say “no silks right now, unless you want surgery.” So my handstands are getting really solid.

Pre-MRI selfie game on point

Pre-MRI selfie game on point

I will not be doing silks in the final show, but I am going to be in several group numbers. We are in rehearsal mode now. No more afternoon classes, just show creation, and it is exhausting, both physically and mentally.

I should also mention that while I was at the doctor over Spring Break, I finally got antidepressants and refilled my Adderall prescription. If you get nothing else from this post, I want to preach this:

Depression is an illness. Would you tell someone with cancer to “suck it up”? Of course not. Sometimes, no matter how much you exercise or how well you eat, you can be depressed. There is a chemical imbalance. And needing medication is not a weakness.

It’s still early in my course of meds. I have good days and bad days. Some days I don’t feel like getting out of bed, and I neglect responsibilities, which spirals me into never feeling like I’m doing enough. But I’m working on cutting myself some slack, and I’m going to get better. Physically and mentally.

I’ve got a big year ahead of me, and I’m going to make the most of it.

Chicago Week 2

At the beautiful Theater on the Lake, where I would have done a handstand if I wasn't injured. (Week 1)

At the beautiful Theater on the Lake, where I would have done a handstand if I wasn't injured. (Week 1)

I have officially been here for 2 weeks, and my recovery post-ovarian cyst rupture is going well! Last Tuesday, the first day of classes, I could hardly walk, but I was determined to at least be present. By that Thursday, I was almost completely pain free, and participated in a gig at the newly renovated Theater on the Lake where the mayor spoke. I sat (and sometimes stood) on a swing and looked pretty for 30 minutes while the other full-timers hung about on lyras.

Though my class participation was quite limited in week 1, I did some light conditioning and stretching. On Monday of this past week, I was cleared to do low impact things, and slowly eased back into using my abdominals. I’ve participated in juggling, dance (ballet), physical theater, cardio (3-mile runs on the horizon, but I power walk for now), handstands, rope, straps, silks (to a degree), and stretching.

Still a week or so away from being able to run, tumble, do acro, trampoline, teeterboard, or anything that places pressure on my abdomen. Not that I have any pain, it’s just still a bit scary and intimidating.

The program is at Aloft Circus Arts, a beautiful old church in Logan Square. It’s a short walk from where I’m living: a 5 bed, 1 bath house across the street from Palmer Park. All the people in the program and Palmer house have been great, and I definitely feel like I belong in this crazy circus community.

Last weekend I had my first visitor, Lindsey. She almost forgot I had moved here and left without seeing me, but thankfully I saw her snapchats! Lindsey helped me meal prep, and we walked to a lunch spot.

If you’re ever coming through Chicago, let me know!

This weekend, I saw Acrobatica Infiniti with Sarah, another full-timer. Yesterday, I spent most of the day working in a coffee shop. I’m currently at a laundromat and thinking this will be a Sunday tradition. There’s coin laundry in the basement should I need it in a pinch, but the washers are bigger, faster, and overall cheaper here at the laundromat. Other Sunday plans include grocery shopping, meal prep, and working.

If you’ve made it this far, congrats! I’ll try to keep posting regularly about my Chicago adventures, though I doubt they’ll all be this long or detailed. I don’t have a whole lot of time outside school, work, eating, and sleeping. But I’m loving every minute. :)

And lastly, if you feel so inclined, I'm still in need of financial assistance. My apartment in Sioux Falls has still not been subleased, and I am paying rent in 2 places, as well as expecting an astronomical hospital bill soon. Every bit helps.