Living With Post-Concussive Syndrome

6 Years Later And I'm Still Learning How To Deal With Post-Concussive Syndrome

It's not an easy road, but I'm learning to make it my own.

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Six years later and what do I want? I want to be able to wake up and see. I want to be able to read the numbers on the clock far away from me and the messages on my phone close up. I want to not bump into walls when I walk down a hallway. I want to look left, right, left, right and not get dizzy. I want to make it through a school day without reading the same words four times over, just so that I can understand them. I want to make it through a day without taking extra medication. I want to not feel like I`m going to fall over and faint. I want the tingling in my hands and feet to stop, the black spots in my vision to go away. I want to listen to the rain and not think of gunshots piercing through my ears. I want to do all of the things I used to do, like dance and basketball, and do them exactly how I used to. But the truth is I can`t and I never will be able to, and that`s the truth of my post-concussion syndrome.

Six years later, and I do not know if the pain has gotten any better.

Living with a concussion is exhausting mentally, physically, and emotionally.

In the beginning, I had all of the normal symptoms but was in such a daze that sometimes I barely noticed them. I felt the headache and the dizziness, along with the sensitivity to noise, but I did not notice some of the cognitive effects that I still deal with every day. I did not notice my balance was off. I couldn't tell I was swaying back and forth all the time like a drunk person. I wasn't aware my vision was so blurry or that my response times were so slow. I often could not feel my disconnection with the world, but I could definitely feel it within myself.

As time went on many people told me that I should be feeling better, but truthfully, I was not. I lied to myself and tried to do everything that I used to do — dance, basketball, rollercoasters. I tried concerts and parties, but after every one of these, the pain was worse. I thought maybe I became accustomed to not doing these things, and maybe I was just in a funk, so I pushed myself harder until my body could not take it.

Boom! My whole body turned off, it had had enough. I was fainting all of the time, just passing out and shutting down whenever my brain had had enough. I`d wake up on the floor in total disarray, unaware of what had actually just happened. I tried to fix this. I got nerve blocker shots in my head in an attempt to prevent my headaches and the residual effects from them. I tried pill after pill after pill, but they began taking away the small amount of my old life that I still had. I stopped fainting as often, but then I started throwing up, getting nauseous all of the time. It seemed with every step forward I was taking two steps back.

Lackluster days were how I envisioned and thought I had to envision the rest of my life. I thought that I was going to have to settle and learn to love a lesser life then I had lived in order to be happy. I thought maybe mediocre was best for me, but it was not what I wanted.

So, six years later what have I decided? I've decided I'm not going to live normally and I'm not going to live easily. And even though these things will be true, I still will live happily. I am not going to stop doing the things that make me happy because of this. I will not stop going to concerts or college parties because the noise is too loud, I'll wear earplugs. I'm not going to live my life in fear of TCE, I am just going to live and monitor. I'm not going to stay at home in fear of throwing up in public because I am too dizzy, I will just pack a toothbrush and toothpaste. I won't stop doing things because of my concussion, I will live my dreams.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Buying New Clothes Every Month Has Been The Key To Helping Me Become Happy With My Body Again

Loving my body in new outfits has boosted my self image so much.

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Being body-positive has been really hard for me to do throughout 2019, despite there being an overwhelming surge in body-positivity around me, whether through my friends and family or YouTube. I look in the mirror and what I see is someone I want to make a jean size or two smaller like in the past. That being said, I've slowly been coming around to accepting the body I have now, instead of bashing it constantly. A key way I've come to accept the body I'm in now is through buying myself something new every month, like a new T-shirt or a pair of jeans or sneakers that help me see myself in a positive light. When I'm in a new outfit, I feel invincible. I don't think about how pudgy my stomach is, or about the hair I have growing in random places, like my neck or on my nose (yes, not just in, but ON too).

My bank account tends to suffer as of recently because of this, but it's worth it when I can genuinely feel good in what I am wearing every day. I like to wake up and think about how many outfits I can put together, ready to post my #OOTD for Snapchat without caring what anyone thinks. I've let social media dictate how I feel about myself more than I care to admit. I see how perfect all the models are in everything they're wearing from brands I know and love, yet when I try the same thing on, it's a whole different ugly story.

I don't enjoy trying things on to avoid the shame I feel when things don't fit me right, or if something that I thought would flatter me actually makes me look like a sack of potatoes. Instagram has really hurt my body image a lot — enough to make me delete it for a week after one post sent me spiraling. Going through those bumps made me finally realize it's not my fault if something doesn't fit. Sizes range depending on the item, it's the clothing items fault, not mine. Now that I see that, it's easier to brush off something not fitting me as it should. I know my size very well in the stores I frequent the most, so it's easier for me to pick out things I know will look good and not have to worry about the sizing issue.

Buying yourself something new is not something you should limit to every few months or longer. You shouldn't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone price wise every once and a while either. Coupons exist, stories always offer you them when you first sign up to receive emails and even texts. You can be crafty and still get a high price item for less. If you treat yourself to cheap things, you won't feel half as good as you want to. Granted, sticking to a limit is important but there's no shame in going over the limit every once and a while.

I love shopping as much as I love country music and writing short stories — a lot. Yes, I get yelled at almost every time I get something new. I need to save my money for important things, like for my sorority or for medical issues that could suddenly arise, or for utilities at my house next year off campus.

However, my mental well-being is not something I can ignore.

I can't push the good feelings aside to save 30 or 40 bucks a month. I don't want to feel as low as I've felt about myself anymore. I'm tired of feeling sad or angry at who I am, and I want to learn how to accept myself as I am. Buying myself something new, like clothes, is what offers a positive light to view myself under.

Whether you treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, or to face masks, or to a new movie when it comes out — don't be afraid to do it. Put yourself first and you'll realize your worth and how much you've been ignoring it in the face of poor confidence.

My confidence isn't back up to where it used to be, but it's getting there.

It may not be the most cash efficient method of self-love, but my body positivity is better than it was a few months ago. Aerie and American Eagle have really helped me become happier with my body, and I can't thank them enough for being more inclusive for people like me who are learning to love themselves again in a new body.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us hoping to promote our own body positivity, and it could all start with a simple purchase from your favorite store after you read this.

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