I've tried to write this article several times. I try to sit down and pour out how I'm really feeling, or the type of pain that I am in, but in reality, it is almost like there is no way to describe it. I was always taught to be "tough" through everything, yet these hits to the head have completely taken over my life the past few months.
I wrote my story on concussions. However, since then I have gotten hit a few more times. They have been light hits, but the symptoms have been much worse. Rest, rest, rest. I've been told that many times by different doctors. For awhile I didn't even fully understand how damaging this could all be to my body. After many doctors appointments and a whole lot of research, I think I finally understand what is happening to me. I look around at people in my life who have watched me go through this. Some completely understand what is going on and others really don't understand why I do some of the things that I do. These are some of the signs that people will post-concussion syndrome can have, and how it affects them in social, mental, and academic settings.
1. I zone out a lot.
There will be times that my friends are talking to me and I just won't hear them or even acknowledge the fact that they are in the same room. To people who don't know me, they may think that I'm rude, but sometimes it is literally like my brain flew out of my head and isn't there to receive information. Sometimes, it will take someone coming up to me and waving their hand in my face to get my attention.
2. I forget everything.
My keys, my phone, anything important I've probably lost before. It's so easy for people to say "re-trace your steps" or "remember where you last had it" but I genuinely don't remember most of the time. I'll have people text me, I'll open the message, and completely forget to reply. I'll say things to people that I do not remember saying later. The other day I walked into my house and forgot to close the door. I'll leave my car keys in the ignition and forget to take them out.
3. I get very irritable.
For awhile, I didn't know why I was like this. I've always been a very laid back, mellow type of person. For some reason, I would start getting really mad and snippy about little things. Sometimes I would wonder why I was even mad. It would be like my brain was mad but my body wasn't.
4. I have trouble admitting that there is a problem.
This is something that has probably bothered my friends the most. I would lay in bed one day, then feel fine the next day and go workout. They'd tell me that I shouldn't be at the gym, but I'd tell them that I felt better. However, the next day I would end up back in bed again. I would mentally convince myself that I was being overdramatic and that I was fine. However, I have now come to the realization that I have that attitude because of sports. If you sprain an ankle, you tape it up and keep playing. If you break your hand, you tape it up and mentally tell yourself that it is okay. I've learned the hard way that the brain is not something that you can just "tape up." It takes time to heal. Honestly, I'm not even an athlete anymore. I don't have to "quickly heal and get back out there", but the hardest part of my concussion has still been accepting the fact that I actually have one.
5. My personality has changed.
Sometimes, it feels like I am just not the same person. Sometimes it feels as if someone else is controlling my body and that I am just in it. I just don't feel like "myself" and there really isn't another way to describe it.
6. I seemed to have lost my sense of fear.
I'm not really afraid of anything anymore. Sometimes people with concussions can become afraid of things that could hit them in the head. This was the opposite for me, and probably the most dangerous part. I do whatever I want, assuming that nothing bad will ever happen.
If I could go back and somehow convince myself to rest up, I would. I can't really do much about the old head injuries now, but as I sit here and struggle to get out of bed, I realized that it is probably best to completely rest for this one. I don't know if I will ever actually be back to normal again. I would sure hope so, but the crazy thing about the brain is you never know if or when it is going to heal. If I was put on this earth to make sure another athlete doesn't go through this, then I am doing something right. Your brain is something that you do not want to mess with. It can have long-term effects on your life. When in doubt, sit it out.