The Perseverance Behind a Facade


Freshman Claire Bisanz wearing a brace on her right arm.

A calamitous downpour, a raging storm, a swirling cloud of dust. These phrases describe the thoughts swimming through my mind after my worst knee injury on the morning of June 29, 2022; I felt destroyed. I ended up forgetting the pain, but I never forgot the mental agony I went through and how hard I had pushed myself. However, I recovered, like the other time I hurt my knee in 2021, and emerged differently. Despite how destroyed one feels, the way the mental agony outweighs the physical pain, the absolute hopelessness that consumes oneself; if one puts in the work, one can become stronger than ever before both mentally and physically.

On that day, my left knee cap, patella, had dislocated and my left leg had completely folded back to the end of my thigh. I couldn’t get surgery because I have a condition called patellar subluxation, where both of my patellas shift out of place frequently due to my femur bone formations, and surgery isn’t an option until I am done growing.

My mind was busy because of how embarrassingly self-conscious I felt, and it took me a while to accept that for four months, my life would revolve around using crutches and requiring assistance from my friends and family. I kept thinking about how I must be faking it, that I couldn’t just go from running around having fun to existing on the ground in shambles in less than a breath. Although feelings of regret and blame existed afterward because of this fast change, I overcame these thoughts by realizing this will end, blatantly accepting the indefinability of the time until my situation would be over.

A wise man once told me that in Africa, to be poor was to have no friends, wallowing in eternal sorrow, alone, and to be rich was to have many friends. In this regard, I was lucky to be surrounded by the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, most of them being students in the Spartan Regiment Band Program. I participated in the marching band in the front ensemble despite my situation, and I had once again the best three months of my life, spending time around many awesome, charismatic people who comforted me and made me feel like I was a valuable person. Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have so many people you trust with your life; however, the best way of coping in my opinion is to spend time with the people you hold dearest to you.

In the end, the corrupted thoughts I had initially did not last forever. They were real and valid but they were temporary. Life is fragile, but mendable. Even in the darkest moments, everything can be turned around. However, a few personal actions made the mental pain more bearable and improved my discipline when continuously doing my exercises from physical therapy.

Freshman Claire Bisanz wearing a foot boot on her right leg. Photo courtesy of Makenzie Solis

An hour after I had injured my knee, as I put ice on it, I listened to a song for 4 straight hours, tearing up lightly throughout. In ways no one besides me will ever feel, listening to music in particular helps me express destructive thoughts or even happy thoughts, which is the beauty of music in my opinion. Music can be a motivator, such as hip-hop, even though I usually feel empathetic of the artist; or an instrumental, for letting go and releasing my sorrow in the silence of my own thoughts. Instrumental music allows me to easily sync my thoughts with the mood of the music, making it perfect for when I feel any strong emotion, such as confusion and disarray.

Journaling one’s achievements and simply keeping a journal full of any thoughts one might have is another action I took. Although I never wrote my specific thoughts down in great detail, I wrote and am still writing every time I exercise, writing down of course what I did during the workout, but most importantly keeping track of how hard I had tried. Writing a few words about how I had felt during the workout was instrumental to my sense of accomplishment and perseverance. This method forced me to come back two days later and repeat the cycle because if I state how I didn’t try as hard as I could have one day, there will always be a constant reminder about how I can do better the next time.

Lastly, describing my pain to the people I trust and care about the most helped me to always maintain my energy and move on. When I initially got hurt, some of my friends had watched me fall, and being there helped them understand marginally better. However, I didn’t talk to many people, but talking to at least one or two is adequate and extremely beneficial. Expressing your feelings through your own words is different than simply having the time of your life with the people you love, which is more a way of refocusing your energy. Talking about your experience, or experiences, is a great way to make more connections and generally better your mind.

By implementing these techniques and forcing myself to maintain discipline by committing to myself, by respecting myself enough to put in the work, I emerged after five months of being injured as a person who was stronger both mentally and physically. Except then I will repeat the process after another, yet a greatly smaller injury to my knee. If anything, after every time, I’ve learned that the only way to solve a problem is to face it, again and again, never giving up, always growing stronger.