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“How I Overcome” Podcast with Madison Isaacs

Madison Isaacs is a 22-year-old athlete who has competed in martial arts since she was five years old. She started Olympic Style Taekwondo in 2014 where she received her first traumatic brain injury in 2018. It has been two years since she first received her injury and she says that she beginning to see the light at the end of her recovery. Madison is excited to share her experience and story with you all! Tune in now!

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Information Our Stories Podcasts

“How I Survived” with Brendan Verrier

Tune in and listen to traumatic brain injury survivor Brendan Verrier, share his story about how he was able to overcome his traumatic brain injury!

Brendan Verrier is from Perth, Western Australia and suffered from post-concussion syndrome for about 18 months after having 6 concussions throughout his career. He played Australian rules football in a semi-professional competition and when he received a concussion he had no clear pathway for support and now wants to help others that are going through the same thing!

Check out Brendan’s Instagram page @inbetweentheears

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Podcasts Treatments & Therapies

I Know… My Treatments Podcast

This is the first part of the three-part “I-Know” Series! In this podcast, we will go over the many treatments that may be helpful to you in your brain injury recovery. Now, I must ask, do you know your treatments?

Tune in now!

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Information Lifestyle Treatments & Therapies

I Know… My Treatments

There are many treatments to help those with traumatic brain injuries manage and overcome the many symptoms that they face, but the hard part comes when trying to find the treatment that is best for you. I know for myself, it took a while for me to figure out exactly what really worked. Therefore, here, I have outlined all of the many treatments that help traumatic brain injury patients manage and overcome their symptoms and conditions. So let’s get started! 

*Disclaimer – Information within this post should not be regarded as medical advice, please consult with your doctor to find the right treatment plan for you*

Vision Therapy (Oculomotor Training) 

Vision therapy is commonly used for those with vision difficulties following the onset of a brain injury, which can include symptoms such as sensitivity to motion, blurry vision, double vision, eye pain, headaches, dizziness, and peripheral vision problems. This type of therapy has many techniques used in order to help train aspects of the vision system to repair and rejuvenate damaged connections in the brain. 

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists help individuals reintegrate and return back into the communities in which they reside. They evaluate and treat visual, arm, and cognitive impairment that may negatively affect one after a brain injury. Activities may include home management, rest and sleep habits, work tasks, and social participation. In some cases, an occupational therapist may give instruction outside of the office at a grocery store, workplace, or home. The focus of this therapy is to help you reacclimate yourself to the daily tasks and events that you faced prior to your injury. For more information about Occupational Therapy, please visit the link below!

https://www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Professionals/RDP/brain-injury.aspx

https://www.brainline.org/article/occupational-therapy-practice-guidelines-adults-traumatic-brain-injury

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation is a specialized and individualized treatment routine for those who have visual difficulties as a direct result of a traumatic brain injury, physical disability, and other neurological insults. This therapy is a process for the rehabilitation of visual/perceptual/ motor disorders and utilizes prisms, lens filters, and occlusion to help stimulate parts of the brain that are not functioning at their fullest potential. Treatment plans are often tailored to the needs of the patient. For more information about Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation, visit the links below!

https://noravisionrehab.org/patients-caregivers/what-is-neuro-optometric-rehabilitation

Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room or tube. It is commonly used in order to treat decompression sickness. In a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber, the air pressure is increased to three times higher than normal air pressure, your lungs can then gather more oxygen than would be possible in breathing pure oxygen at normal air pressure. This all helps to fight bacteria and to stimulate the release of substances called growth factors and stem cells, which prompt healing. 

For more information about hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy, check out these links.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy/about/pac-20394380

https://www.brainline.org/research/comprehensive-review-hyperbaric-oxygen-treatment-brain-injury

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy

Speech Therapy

Speech therapists also known as Speech-Language Pathologists work with those with traumatic brain injuries in improving memory, problem-solving skills, social and language skills, cognitive-communication skills, and much more. They help traumatic brain injury patients communicate effectively after the onset of their injury and as they progress to recover. For more information about Speech Therapy, please visit the links below.

https://greatspeech.com/6-ways-speech-therapy-can-aid-in-brain-injury-recovery/

https://www.brainline.org/topic/speech-language-therapy

Vestibular (Balance) Therapy

Vestibular therapy can be helpful for those who have persistent dizziness, vertigo, and balance problems. This type of therapy utilizes habituation exercises, gaze stability training, and balance training in order to improve dizziness and bodily orientation.

Click the link below for more information on vestibular therapy.

https://www.neuroskills.com/programs-and-services/therapies/vestibular-therapy/

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be especially helpful for those who have certain types of headaches and/or who may have suffered orthopedic injuries at the onset of their injury. Physical therapy includes treatments that include exercise, massage, and heat therapies. The goal of physical therapy is to help patients relieve injuries that may be making the concussion-related symptoms worse.

Click the link below for more information on physical therapy.

https://www.brainline.org/article/physical-therapy-brain-i-njury

Herbal and Homeopathic Treatment

Homeopathic treatment is a type of alternative medicine that utilizes natural remedies made from naturally occurring substances–herbs make up the majority of healing substances used.

To learn more about homeopathic therapy click the links below!

https://vtherbcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Herbs-for-TBI.pdf

Psychological Counseling

A counselor can help in learning healthy coping skills, relationships, and emotional well-being after the onset of a brain injury as well as when and if it is prolonged. Seeking assistance from a counselor can be especially helpful in deciphering and understanding your thought patterns and potential habits during your TBI recovery.

If you are contemplating getting a  counselor, be sure to check out this article below.

https://www.brainline.org/article/counseling-after-brain-injury-13-things-want-know-are-afraid-ask

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy utilizes activities designated to improve memory, attention, perception, learning, planning, and judgment. Cognitive therapy covers a wide range of symptoms of brain injury patients but helps to increase personal awareness of themselves and their environments. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective for those who suffer from mood changes after a brain injury. Cognitive-behavioral therapists help patients develop the ability to identify negative thought patterns while creating concrete skills to manage them. This therapy has been shown effective for those who suffer from anxiety and depression following their injury. For more information about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy click the link below.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610

Exertional Therapy

Exertional therapy can be helpful for those who are experiencing a slower recovery than expected. This type of therapy involves performing light aerobic activities in a controlled and monitored environment, like a treadmill, pool, or other no risk impact setting. Exercise has many benefits to recovery, talk to your doctor about ways you can begin including exercise into your daily life.

For my exercise to recovery treatment plan click this link!

Exercise to Recovery

Sources

https://concussionfoundation.org/PCS-resources/PCS-treatments

https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/tbi/conditioninfo/treatment

Click here to tune into the podcast! https://concussionbegone.com/i-know-my-treatments-podcast/(opens in a new tab)

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I Know… Series

As I thought about the direction that I wanted to take ConcussionBeGone in the new year and all that I wanted to accomplish and do in order to help you all in your recoveries this year. I went back to why I created this platform; which was to help those with brain injuries find resources and a community to recover properly. And so, I have decided to dedicate this first month of the year to a series called “I Know…”, this series is all about helping you find the right treatments, attitudes/mindset, as well as other people in order to recover.

The first two weeks are called “I Know My Treatments”, in which I share podcasts and blog posts to help you find the right treatments to recover. The third week’s theme is called “I Know Survivors” in which I share stories of traumatic brain injury survivors through podcasts and blog posts. And lastly, the last week’s theme will be called “I Know Myself”, in which we go through how you can be more aware of yourself in body and mind through your recovery. I am so excited to kick off this series, and I hope that it is helpful to you!

I Know… My Treatments!

Learn about the various treatments that may be helpful in your TBI recovery!

I Know… Survivors

Tune in and listen to the stories of two traumatic brain injury survivors who have overcome their injuries!

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Uncategorized

A Conversation with Dr. Joshua Flowers – Podcast

Dr. Joshua Flowers is the owner and founder of Revive Treatment Centers in Denver, CO, a neurological rehabilitation and optimization facility focusing on traumatic brain injuries, post-concussion syndrome, neuroautoimmunology, neurodegeneration, stroke, depression, and PTSD. His facility is acclaimed as the most progressive in science-based applications for neurological recovery, utilizing the most robust suite of advanced neurological therapies in the world combined with a whole-body and mind approach to healing. Dr. Flowers’ vision is to provide patients with the most comprehensive, thorough investigation to inform targeted therapeutic interventions, developing lasting changes for optimization of brain function. 

Check out www.revivecenters.com for more information about this rehabilitation center and the treatments that they offer.

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Lifestyle

ConcussionBeGone’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays!

The holidays are supposed to be a time of happiness, laughter, and excitement, but with a brain injury, the holidays can be stressful, draining, and just down-right miserable. But, it does not have to be all of these things, you can enjoy your family, your friends, and all of the good food without putting your health and peace of mind at risk. SO, here is the ConcussionBeGone guide to surviving the holiday season(:

Prepare Your Mind

This is one point that I believe is most important and it has everything to do with your attitude and mindset. What attitude are you going to have this holiday season? Do you expect that it will be horrible? Do you expect the worse or are you preparing yourself for the best? You do not have to be overly optimistic, but you can decide that in this holiday season that you will try your best to relax, enjoy your family, while also respecting and honoring your healing journey. I encourage you all to prepare your mindset this holiday for the best, be optimistic, and let go of any negative thoughts that have kept your mind captive. You can enjoy yourself this holiday season. Prepare well and you will.

Have an honest conversation with your family beforehand

Having an honest conversation with your family about where you are in your recovery, as well as how it will affect your participation in the holiday festivities will allow for your family to understand and support you during the holiday season. By opening up, you allow others to help you in the areas that are difficult. By opening up, you no longer carry the burden alone.

Share with your family the things that you need from them in order to make it through the holiday. This could be as simple as telling your husband/wife that you need them to get groceries for dinner or that you may disappear a few times during Christmas dinner for rest. By telling your family, beforehand, what to expect from you and how they can help you will eliminate the annoying questions and/or comments about why you aren’t as active as usual.

Keep it Simple

The biggest mistake that I made during my brain injury recovery was not slow down. I tried to be the same active and vibrant Nicole that I had been before my injury, but it only made my health increasingly worse. When recovering from a brain injury it is important to take it slow, and the holidays are no exception. Keep your days simple and don’t stress yourself out by trying to do and be apart of everything. You can only do, what you can do(:

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

This point hits home for me because I am and have always been a “yes, yes” kind of girl. It is hard for me to say no to people, but like I said in the previous point–you can only do what you can do. Do not stretch and spread yourself thin trying to please family members or friends. Your mental and physical wellbeing is what is most important, especially during this time when you are recovering from such a life-changing injury. Don’t be afraid to say no.

Find Alternatives

For some people, including myself, it can be very hard to say no. This is why I believe finding alternative activities during the holidays can be so helpful. Talk with your family about doing activities that may be better suited for your injury. This could be instead of going out for a night of karaoke (like my family), we play a board game or have a painting event at home. There are activities that won’t exacerbate your symptoms, find them and make a suggestion to implement them in your holiday activities.

Listen to Your Body

Listening to your body is unbelievably important. If you notice that your symptoms are becoming increasingly exacerbated it may be time for you to take a small break. It may be time for a walk or to sit in a quieter room. Listen to what your body is telling you, it is almost always right.

Take Breaks

One thing that a lot of us do not give ourselves enough of is… breaks. When you notice that you becoming overstimulated or overwhelmed, take a short break. Take a small walk outside, drink a cool glass of water and rest for a bit. Give yourself time to calm down, recalibrate, and then rejoin your family and friends. Do not push or force yourself to stay in situations that cause your symptoms to get out of control. Take the break, your brain will thank you later(;

Have a Buddy

Oh, the buddy system, what a great system to have! For all of my mothers, this is especially for you. During the holidays, the work is oftentimes done by you! But with a brain injury this can be unbelievably hard, that is why having a buddy who you can call on to assist in collecting errands is so important. Not only is this buddy important for helping you run holiday tasks, but this is someone that you can reach out to and be honest about what you are going through

This person can also be helpful when your symptoms become exacerbated. Your buddy can be the person that you take a walk with or go to a quiet room when you are overwhelmed. You do not have to go through it alone.

Guard Your Heart

Sometimes people will have opinions on topics of discussion that they simply do not understand. This is especially true when it comes to brain injuries. I can remember the countless times in which my friends and some family member would ask, “why I wasn’t better” or “when I would be better” or even worse, “why I looked fine but didn’t act like it”. These comments can be very painful to hear, so I encourage you to guard your heart and mind. People do not know, what they do not understand and unfortunately, brain injuries are one of those things. Be prepared to get those questions and comments, but do not let them get the best of you. You are a fighter, you are a warrior, and no one can come close to understand just how strong you are.

Have a Happy Holiday

Most of all, have a happy holiday, enjoy yourself, eat your favorite foods, smile, laugh, play games, enjoy this moment in time. Brain injuries can really put the damper on life, but do not let it steal these precious moments.

Happy holidays everyone, this is ConcussionBeGone’s guide to having an enjoyable and happy holiday(:

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Diet Lifestyle My Recovery Treatments & Therapies

Let’s Eat! – Me, Myself, and Food in Concussion Recovery

I don’t know about you, but food is the love of my life. It is one thing that has supported me through it all. Those moments when I’m sad, stressed, tired, happy, angry, frustrated, and every other emotion under the sun, food has been there for me. I had never really cared or taken notice of my health because I was young, “fit” and still a well-rounded athlete. I knew that my eating habits were bad, but didn’t make the final decision to change them until I was overtaken with poor health caused by my brain injury.

My journey in my brain injury recovery taught me the true meaning of self-love. Self-love is taking take of your body and giving it the nutrients and foods that it craves and deserves. Changing my perspective this way, made it a lot easier for me to make the decision to change my diet. But, anyway, that’s another discussion for another blog post! Let’s get back to the story(:

After about four months of battling and riding the highs and lows of a brain injury, I finally threw in the towel and came to the conclusion that my strategy for fighting my concussion was not right. Though I was taking the fish oil pills my doctor had prescribed and resting whenever I felt like it, my brain was not in the right environment to recover. Still, I was eating junk food every now and then, and remaining dormant for the majority of my days. Truth is, I wasn’t eating the right foods to promote healing! I was malnourished and depriving my cells of the nutrients needed to function most effectively and efficiently.

Thus, the hunt began to find foods that would promote my healing. My father had been an advocate for plant and fruit-based diets within my family and educated us on a regular basis on the powerful benefits of eating the right foods and how it can reverse even the worst of illnesses. I figured it wouldn’t at all hurt to try. Truth is, I didn’t have anything to lose. I started by deciding what foods I would cut out completely and ones that I would eat in moderation. I decided to completely cut out all processed sugars & foods, fried foods, sweets, as well as red meat. This may not be a lot for you, but for ME, this was huge! I didn’t realize how heavily I ate all of these things until I cut it all out!

The next task was to figure out what I WOULD eat. This was pretty self-explanatory as well, I decided to increase my fruit and vegetable intake, by increasing more leafy greens like kale and spinach in my diet. As well as blueberries, apples, and bananas. All of which are good for the brain and maintaining energy levels. I also ate seafood at least twice a week, which included salmon and tilapia and moderately ate chicken and bread. Doing this significantly increased my energy levels and overall cognitive performance. I experienced fewer brain crashes and fatigue after my meals.

I was not unbelievably strict on my diet, I found that by being very cautious about everything that I ate made me paranoid in the event that messed up. So, in the event that I messed up one day I didn’t beat myself up but instead made it up with nutrient-rich food in my following meal. My focus was to make sure that I was putting the right foods into my body. Instead of focusing on what I could not eat, I focused on the many foods that I could! This motivated me to eat better and to maintain my new diet for an extended period of time.

So, in conclusion, healthy eating is a crucial part of brain injury recovery and is one of the many steps and parts that lead to recovering. I hope this blog post is helpful to you all! I will see ya in the next blog post

Happy healing,

Nicole

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Mental Symptoms Symptoms

Overcoming Suicidal Thoughts

I didn’t think that writing about this chapter of my life would be this difficult. Looking back, it is extremely heartbreaking to know that I was once in such a dark place that I contemplated suicide multiple times a day, or even that I kept a bottle of painkillers under my bed for easy access in the event that I made the final decision to end it all. No one ever talks about the emotional and mental strains that brain injuries bring, so now, it is time to speak up. I hope by sharing my story, I can help others understand that they are not alone.

Before my brain injury, I would at times contemplate suicide in the events that I was really stressed with school or overwhelmed by circumstances in my life, but these were only occasional instances. I had never experienced these thoughts at the intensity and frequency with which I experienced with the brain injury. The depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts all seemed to come all at once. Like everything else, the suicidal thoughts would intrude as I became more stagnant in my recovery and especially when I made major strides in my recovery only to encounter a major setback. This cycle was deceiving and unbelievably debilitating. I questioned God, I questioned myself, I questioned my purpose. My life seemed like a joke now, I prayed to God for healing, but he didn’t seem to be listening at all. I cried to God to stop the head pain only for him to laugh at my tears. I felt like I had been forgotten and nobody understood what I was going through. My family, my friends, my teachers. Nobody understood the turmoil that my life was in.

When you feel worthless and purposeless, that is when you really wonder if it’d be best to just end it all. I often thought, “What’s the point”. I was doing everything right but was making no progress or what it seemed to be no progress in my recovery. I knew that I would much rather kill myself than live the way that I was living for the rest of my life. The thought of my dreams and hopes also going to die hurt me as well. I have always been a person who knew I would change the world in some big way, but my life was stuck for what had been six months with a brain injury. It was incredulous. But something inside whispered inside me that it was not over. That this was not the end for me.

I can remember the night that I almost gave up all too vividly. It was the night before my Poetry Out Loud competition (I know what you’re thinking, a Poetry Out Loud competition with a brain injury?!, yes I know. I shouldn’t have been doing it but it was my passion and nothing could stop me from competing, not even a brain injury). I had gone shopping with my mother to get an appropriate outfit, we had only been out for an hour or so and I began to feel a headache coming along. I knew that this wasn’t good, so I told my mother we needed to go home as soon as possible. As we got closer and closer to home, the headache only continued to grow. I remember getting home and going straight to my bed, to my darkroom. But, it was too late, it only continued and didn’t stop. I couldn’t sleep, I was awake and in an immense amount of pain. I cried and I cried, but the intensity only grew as I cried harder and harder. How cruel isn’t it? A headache that intensifies as you cry. This is the reality of brain injury headaches, they’re unforgiving and ruthless. I wanted out right then and there, I was angry that THIS could happen the night before my big day, I had practiced, I had rested and layed low for so long so that I could do well at this competition. It didn’t make any sense. I’m ashamed of it, but I cursed God for allowing it to happen. I remember taking pain killers… one, two, and three. I remember looking at the rest within the bottle and really considering taking more. I don’t know what stopped me. Some inner voice, God, I’m not sure, but something told me that my story was not over yet.

The reason as to why things like brain injuries happen to people, good or bad, is a mystery. Maybe that’s not the question that we should ask. Maybe the question that we should be asking is what are the situations that we go through teaching and showing us? Before my brain injury, my mental and emotional health were always an afterthought. I stressed myself out, taking on tasks that I couldn’t handle, saying yes to everything, doing everything and going above and beyond on it all. I would often have anxiety attacks that led me to hyperventilate and cry uncontrollably. I wasn’t taking care of myself, and I didn’t take care of myself until I was forced to. My injury forced me to take care of my body, my mind, and my spirit–all of which were vital for me to take care of in order to recover.

Today, I am so thankful that I didn’t give up. My only regret is that I doubted God and his plans for my life, but I’m just glad my story didn’t end there. I am thankful that I have this platform. I am thankful for all of you and my only hope is that you all understand that your life is not over. Reinvent yourself, find new purpose, never stop growing, never stop fighting. My life didn’t end with a brain injury and yours will not either.

Do not give up on yourself. You are worth fighting for.

Happy healing everyone,

Nicole

*The suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255, they are available 24/7*

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Mental Symptoms Symptoms

Overcoming Anxiety

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, all information is based on my own personal experience. Please be sure to consult with your doctor*

Never in my life did I think that I would become afraid to go to school, the store, or any fluorescently lit or loud room. Never in my life did I think that I would become afraid of the world, but this what my life soon became with a brain injury. This fear quickly developed into anxiety, for which I dealt with on a daily basis.

At the beginning of my concussion recovery, I didn’t understand the impact or severity of brain injuries. Most of the people that I knew who had obtained concussions healed within a week and/or showed no signs of struggle or pain. With them as an example, I thought that my injury would be the same. I thought I would be healed within a few weeks and I certainly never imagined I would endure the physical, mental, and emotional pain that I endured. Early in my recovery, on good days I would go out to the store or to school without ever thinking about the consequences that these environments could have on my brain. It wasn’t until I had setback after setback after setback that I began to become nervous about leaving my house. The thought of going to school, work, or just the store made me unbelievably nervous.

I didn’t realize how severe my anxiety was until one Sunday morning my mother asked that I try to attend church. I told her no, but she insisted that I “at least try”. Thus far in my recovery, I believed that anything and everything that was not ‘rest’ would set my head off and cause me to regress. I had begun a routine of school, rest and more rest and I was committed to sticking to it. I believed that this was what would lead to a full recovery and anything outside of it would impede my recovery. That was how I saw everything, so when my mother suggested I attend church, I quickly made up in my mind that this would inevitably hurt my recovery.

I do believe that this mindset did have an effect on the outcome of my trip to church. I did in fact setback, but I think my anxiety heightened its severity. Before I had even entered the church sanctuary, I immediately came to tears. The increasing sound of the music and lights as I approached the room caused me to hyperventilate. I did not even enter the room, because I was completely overcome by fear. I ended up sitting outside to deal with the painful headache that had overtaken me. It was here that I knew I had an anxiety problem.

My anxiety was something that I never disclosed to my doctor, which I certainly do wish I had. By keeping my feelings and emotions from my doctor and even my family, I became more and more isolated. I figured that my anxiety and depression was something that I had and should deal with on my own and so, I found a few things that seemed to help me remain calm even in the most hectic of situations.

The first tip that I have for you all is meditation. For me, it wasn’t as much meditation as it was a method for controlling my breathing. Whenever I would feel myself becoming overwhelmed either by lights, sound, or people, I would go to a bathroom and breath–in through the nose and out through my mouth. I would do this at times when I would become overwhelmed and also throughout the day in general. This allowed me to remain calm in the majority of situations that I found myself in. The second tip that I have for you all is to stay focused on one object when in crowded places. For me, I would become especially anxious in crowded areas. My physical therapist recommended that when I am in crowded places like the hallways of my school, to fix my eyes on one object that is in the direction of my destination. This will cause your mind to remain focused and not turn to the things or thoughts around you.

One thing that I made sure to never do was isolate myself completely from the world, I learned that this only added to my levels of anxiety. The more I exposed myself to the world and the things that made me uncomfortable, I slowly began to readjust to them. For example, the first time that I went to church I couldn’t even sit a minute within the service, the next time I tried 15-30 minutes and worked my way up to sitting in full service. Once I realized what I could handle, I was not as anxious anymore.

Remember, recovering is slow progress; therefore, it is all about celebrating the little victories along the way. These are just a few tips that helped me, but be sure to ALWAYS talk to your doctor on ways to reduce your levels of anxiety.

Happy healing everybody(:

Nicole

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