Welcome to the world of brain injuries.
Some of our readers know that I’ve been out for a while with a severe brain injury; a concussion. I’m slowly getting back in the game but not without a lot of sacrifice and recovery.
When I was seventeen I suffered my first severe concussion as a competitive figure skater. It went undiagnosed for over a month and hit me extremely hard with post-concussion symptoms shortly after. It took almost a year to heal. My second severe concussion occurred this year in a work accident and I’m slowly getting back on my feet.
Recovering from a brain injury is a long, gruelling and exhausting process to say the least. Immediately after I hit my head I was sent to a dark room with zero stimulation for what felt like an eternity. I’m not trying to complain here but these surroundings are so isolating. I laid in my dark room, no lights, windows covered, no entertainment, no television, no computer, no phone, and no reading for weeks. At this point, my brain was trying to heal itself and this can cause some strange and uncomfortable symptoms. I felt like someone was squeezing my brain and the headaches were all over. I was so dizzy; in the middle of the night I would wake up and have to brace myself because it felt like my bed was spinning. My brain couldn’t process things logically therefore it resulted in a lot of crying for no apparent reason. The smallest noises would make me so irritated. Everything was heightened and I couldn’t control what was happening to me. It’s an extremely helpless feeling and state of being.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again – concussions change you. I will never be the same person I was before my first concussion and I will never be the same after my second one either. I don’t necessarily mean that in a negative way but it’s scary to feel further and further away from your true self. I often feel like my concussions have robbed me of so many things but I’ve also learned a lot from them too.
I would not be the same person I am today if it were not for my brain injuries. They have taught me so much about strength, perseverance, and friendship. I have grown immensely as a human being through these awful experiences. I’ve found strength I didn’t know I had and have continued to allow these injuries to fuel my fire. Keep pushing forward. Find hope. Breathe.
For those of you who have experienced these injuries first hand:
It’s scary when you can’t remember the thought you just had or when you lose your train of thought during a conversation – I know. It’s okay if you write the same word three times without realizing. Don’t worry if you can’t stop crying or you’re feeling super irritated. You don’t have to talk to five people at once, it’s okay if you can’t keep up. Your brain has to heal and it will take longer for it to process information. It’s okay. Be patient with yourself and kind to your brain. You only get one brain so please take care of it. You’re so much stronger than you think you are and it radiates from your very core. You will persevere because it’s your only option and you have to keep fighting. You will find out who your true friends are because they will be at your side through these difficult battles. Believe me, I know how alone it feels to be in that dark room… but you are not alone. There’s an entire community of people who have experienced the same things. Know your limits. Love yourself. Be gentle.