it's never happened to me, but i do know if a situation you can probably relate to. i'll follow up your long post with a long story to go with it.
i grew up playing soccer. my best buddy was one of the better soccer players in the state. he was up for Mr. Soccer his sophomore year. (irrelevant, but pertains to the story). summer after sophomore year during summer soccer he caught a foot to the knee and had a slight tear to the ACL. probably what you had, as you can't walk if you have a full tear. the doctor spotted it right away and told him he had a choice. he could have surgery and be out for 6+ months or he could rest and let it heal. the doctor told him it would never be that same without surgery, but it would heal and he would be able to play junior year in the fall. he is a competitor, so he said "let me play." as it was, he was not the same. he wasn't half the player he had been. he was bad that year, and he isn't even a player based on speed or quickness. he was just a ball controlling midfielder. but he never had confidence in anything he did and he never felt right. his knee felt like mush (much like your knee feels, i'm sure.) he said he always felt like the next shot to the knee would break it. and because of that he never had the confidence to do anything.
interestingly enough, in our third to last game, he broke his ankle. he talked to his doctor and asked while they are doing surgery on his ankle, could they do his knee as well. turns out, no, thats two different surgens.. haha.. but what ever. he had both done within a week and rehabbed them together.
long story longer... he said it took 8-9 months before he rehabbed his knee to full strength, but once it was full strength he said it was significantly better then anytime since he tore it. he has always said his biggest regret was not just getting surgery right away.
It is a significant investment of time. also, if you are not the type of worker thats going to go all out and rehab it right, you might as well not do it at all. but, if you are willing to put the time and effort into it, i think you will be amazed what it's like to live with a normal knee again. it's easy to just live with what you've got and deal with it, but a couple of years from know you will thank yourself for getting it fixed.
blah blah blah... long story, i know.. but, you're young, get it fixed while you still heal fast and have the energy to hit the gym every day.
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