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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Mental Symptoms Symptoms

Overcoming Depression

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

Depression — this one thing that I never thought that I would ever have. All my life, I have always been a happy go lucky kind-of-girl. My concussion truly had a life-altering effect on me. I was always happy, optimistic, and active in my sports, academics, and extracurriculars. So, when I obtained a concussion, my life seemed to come to a full stop. Before, I was “go go go”, before I was always doing something, always going somewhere, always putting my best foot forward in all that I did. My concussion crippled me and I began to fall deeper and deeper into a state of sadness.

Things didn’t really get bad for me until I began to notice that I was not healing, in fact, it seemed that I was getting worse. This was after about the third month into my recovery. I had been resting and waiting for so long, that I began to fall behind in school and fall behind my friends. I was making promises that I soon found that I could not keep. I would often tell my friends that I would hang out with them next week or the week after that because by next week I believed that I would SURELY be better. But, I didn’t and I wasn’t. Time passed and the seasons began to change, but I was still the same. My concussion was taking important parts of me and unleashing insecurities within myself that I did not know I had.

My life soon became a perpetual cycle. I would go to school and endure best that I could, come home with an excruciating headache, and immediately go to sleep. If I wasn’t in my bed, then I was at school suffering. Things did not seem to be looking up for me and I became to believe that internally. My brain logically calculated that 1) You are doing everything your doctor is telling you. 2) You are not getting better. This equated to post-concussion syndrome for the rest of my life. I became crushed and lethargic. I read story after story about people who had been suffering from brain injuries for 2 years plus, and lamented for the life that now could be mine.

No one can truly understand the pain that brain injuries bring. I had never experienced pain as severe as that. Being in perpetual pain, day in and day out truly was a living hell and nothing can compare. I had fallen so deep into the depression to the point that I was sure that I would never make a full recovery. Many nights, when I found myself crying in bed, my headaches only seemed to multiply in intensity and severity. The harder I cried, the worse my head pain would become. I soon hypothesized that my emotional state had to somehow be tied to my physical state. I realized that the feelings that I had toward my recovery also had an effect on my healing process. If I believed that I would not recover, I would not. If I was sad and crying all day, I would not recover. With this realization, I decided that I needed to take action. If I continued the path that I was going, I would surely give up on myself and my life.

But change is not as simple as making a decision and all of a sudden your life getting better. I needed to take the proper steps to create the optimal environment for a full recovery. For my physical health, I created a workout and food plan that structured my life in the right way so that I was getting the right foods in my body and doing the right activities to optimize recovery. To keep the right mindset, I physically surrounded myself with words of affirmation, and people who truly supported me in my struggle. This was crucial for me to maintain a positive mindset and attitude. All of this put me in the right place. Because I was doing the work AND constantly renewing my mind to believe in myself and my body, I was now on the right path to making a full recovery.

Battling with depression is not easy, but when taking the proper steps you can overcome it. Always be sure to talk to your doctor about other ways of treating and recognizing depressive symptoms. Changing your mindset and perspective on your injury can be the key to reaching a full recovery.

Happy Healing Everybody(:

Nicole

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Mental Symptoms Symptoms

The Power of Your Mind: A Mental Health Series

The thing about brain injuries is that they are far more than what meets the eye–or in reality, they are more than what doesn’t meet the eye. Traumatic brain injuries are called the “invisible” injury for a reason. The physical, emotional, and mental pain, often times, can not be seen with the naked eye. It is for this reason, that people often believe that brain injuries are not that severe when compared to other injuries. No one can truly understand what goes on inside the mind of a person with a brain injury unless they have actually walked in their footsteps. Brain injuries are life-changing. Brain injuries are debilitating. Brain injuries can make you make question your very existence. They are serious and mental health plays a major role in recovery.

It is because of the seriousness of mental health, that I have decided to create this series that focuses specifically on maintaining a positive mindset, while also spreading awareness about what really goes on inside the mind of one with a traumatic brain injury. This is series will be split up in three-parts that will go over the three main mental strains that I experienced during my own recovery: depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Following each blog post, will be a podcast of the same topic! You can expect a new topic to be posted every two weeks!

So lets go! Happy Healing!

Overcoming Anxiety

Here I share my own battle with anxiety and how I overcame it!

Overcoming Depression

Take a look into how I fought and overcame my own depressive symptoms.

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Our Stories

Madison’s Story

I’ve trained in martial arts almost my whole life. I also compete in Olympic style Taekwondo. Unfortunately, in the spring of 2018 after an intense training schedule for national level competitions, I started having horrible headaches, severe fatigue, speech/memory problems, sound/light sensitivity, irritability, anxiety, vision disturbances, difficulties making decisions, tinnitus, and vertigo symptoms. After being misdiagnosed with Vertigo twice at the ER, I was finally diagnosed with PCS and admitted in the hospital for 3 days for monitoring. I was then released to struggle with a new reality. I had never heard of post concussion syndrome before, but it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced. The sudden shift from being a national level athlete to needing to be walked to the bathroom so I didn’t fall was a huge and scary transition. It caused me to have depression and constant anxiety because it was extremely difficult for me to be at such a low activity level after being such an outgoing person. 

For the first 3 months I slept in a dark room 16 hours a day because of my migraines, brain fog, and fatigue. Day by day I would set a huge goal for myself like sitting outside for 10 minutes or walking to the end of my street and back. I slowly worked my way from no walking or physical activity whatsoever to being able to go on longer walks each day. Eventually I could do light resistance exercises and an hour long walk. It has been a crazy roller coaster of progress. One day I’d be the best I’d been since the concussion, then the next couple days would be intensely painful and I had to rest. It’s been a long process of exposing myself to a difficult activity then completely resting when I had symptoms.

I wish there was more awareness about concussions and brain injuries in the sports and medical communities. I felt so alone as an athlete in the beginning until I found a  PCS support group on Facebook. It’s scary to go through the pain of PCS and not have very many clear answers about treatments or recovery. Through my neurologist I was finally referred to try something besides strict rest. I was referred to start physical, vestibular, and cognitive therapy. I started physical therapy to try dry needling for my shoulders and neck. It helped reduce the frequency of my migraines, but I still had many symptoms. Vestibular therapy has been very helpful. Even though it was extremely difficult at first, vestibular therapy has helped me improve my balance, vision disturbances, and even helped my fatigue since I’m re-training my nervous system. Cognitive therapy is helping me with my memory, problem solving, and attention deficits due to the concussion. To be able to work with people who not only acknowledges your symptoms, but understands how to treat them has been such a blessing. Find someone who understands this condition. Each injury is different and the therapies and time needed to heal are different for everyone. There are people out there who can help you get your life back, you just have to be strong and advocate for yourself and keep pushing until you find the right team to treat you. I am currently 10 months into PCS, but after a long journey with lots of patience, determination, and therapies, I’m starting to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel that is PCS.

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Our Stories

Margot’s Story

Last October, I was jumping my horse and made a slight mistake. Unfortunately, this mistake resulted in the horse coming to a complete stop in front of a fence, and launching me across to the other side. I ended up hitting the ground head first. I felt okay, proceeded to get back on, and continue my work. The next day, I woke up with a terrible headache, dizziness and nausea. I couldn’t read, speak, or listen to music for more than few second before feeling very sick. It took me a while to figure out that I might have sustained a concussion, but once I did, I immediately went to a local emergency room where I was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

My neurological symptoms went away very quickly, and I had normal cognitive function back within two weeks; however, I suffered severe chronic headaches that seemed to be unrelated to any triggers for four months. The headaches would come randomly and made life very difficult. After talking with my physician, I began to use a combination of acupuncture, massage, and physical exercise and after starting this program, I noticed a significant difference in the frequency and severity of my headaches. I became completely headache free after two months! I am now totally healed and am taking precautions in my riding to make sure I minimize my risk for more head injuries.

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Our Stories

Renee’s Story

My name is Renee and I am an 18 year old girl from New Zealand. I love running, playing soccer, studying and hanging out with friends. So of course it was the first two that caused my downfall. As you can imagine I felt like a shell of myself, not being able to participate in the activities I love after I sustained the concussions two weeks apart, on 31st May 2017 and 17th June 2017. 

I received the first injury running in PE class, where I slipped on wet concrete and fell face first down a hill. I refused to believe I was concussed and continued to study and play sports, despite the migraines that followed me around for the next two weeks. My second concussion occurred in a soccer game. I was a starting player who was generally kept on for the whole game because my team was always short on defensive players. The entire game my head was pounding, I couldn’t see well, had poor reflexes and I just wanted to be subbed off; which I now recognise as common concussion symptoms. The moment came when myself and an opposing girl a lot bigger than I was were sprinting at full force towards the ball. If she reached the ball before I did she would almost definitely score the winning goal. Time almost slowed in those moments and even 20 months later I remember it so clearly. I knew it would be my last play of the game before I likely fainted, but I am the type of player who will quite literally put my body on the line for my team. We collided with each other at full force, and I was thrown backwards, smacking my head on the ground. I lay there for about 5 minutes drifting in and out of consciousness, and remember trying to tell my teammates to stop screaming at the ref but I was so exhausted that no words could form. I was taken to the hospital immediately and diagnosed with a mild concussion, (but hey, at least I managed to get to the ball first!) and even though it was my second knock there was still an expected healing time of around 4 weeks. 

The first 2 months were the hardest. Doctors put me on complete bed rest when they noticed I wasn’t healing and I couldn’t do any activities I previously enjoyed. I was meant to be going on a soccer trip to Australia with the First XI at school but had to cancel, which was heartbreaking. Some of the symptoms I experienced were headaches, noise & light sensitivity, fatigue, vision problems, difficulty concentrating, motion sickness and in-coordination. An example that comes to mind was when I wanted to make a salad, so I grabbed some lettuce with one hand, then a cucumber with the other. My hand suddenly relaxed and I dropped the lettuce because my brain was so focused on holding the cucumber. This was a very eye-opening experience because it showed me how much my body was altered by the concussions, and how far I still had to recover. For reference, a baby will usually learn to hold an object in each hand by four-six months old, so my lack of that skill was quite concerning at the time. At this point I became depressed and knew I couldn’t recover on my own so we started a concussion rehabilitation program in effort to get back into my usual activities. This was when I found out I had post concussion syndrome which I was relieved to hear because it meant I wasn’t alone; there were other people going through the exact same thing. 

The next 16 months had the exact same focus: getting me back into (and passing) school. I attended appointments with general practitioners, behavioral optometrists, an ophthalmologist, occupational therapists, massages, a health school program, holistic healing, reiki, neuro-physiologist and I’m yet to see a neurologist. Though I managed to complete Year 12, I did eventually hit a plateau in my senior year. Going from pre-concussions A’s to failing was a big blow to my study-loving self. I became sick of the pain from school – all I wanted to focus on was exercise. To me it didn’t make sense that I could recover by sitting in insane symptom stimuli – a busy, loud classroom doing math and sciences (environments NOT easy on the brain). But time and time again my request to change the focus to exercise was declined by the rehabilitation program: I could only settle for 20 minute walks with my heart rate not exceeding 105bpm. The problem was this was because I hadn’t done any exercise at all since before the concussions, my heart rate while walking around my house was reaching 100bpm. So 105bpm was reached pretty quickly. All the while I was googling recovery stories and trying to implement survivors techniques, but it seemed no one had been knocked quite like me. 

I became restless and decided to take matters into my own hands to restart my fitness journey through a resistance based workout program (exactly what I had been advised not to do). It was on January 6th that I discovered @concussionbegone on Instagram. This was one day before Nicole launched the blog, which whether coincidence or fate, I was drawn to her journey. The most interesting post I came across was “Exercise to Recovery”. I have always known in my heart that exercise is what my injury needed to heal. The workout program provided is similar to the resistance based program I had already purchased, and three weeks into the program I am already feeling SO much better. I am now able to do 3-4 big things per day (eg: making lunch, shopping, unpacking dishwasher, going out for meals, etc), as opposed to the 0-2 things I have been able to do for the past 20 months. It can still feel impossible at times but taking the time to invest in your health is the most important thing in the world. The hardest part of my concussion is helping people to understand my daily life when they themselves have never experienced a brain injury. My friends and family are extremely supportive, but the support from a community of people, all at different stages, who let me know I’m not alone is the most inspiring part of it all. I am not fully recovered, but I know in my heart there can be a future without symptoms for all of us. 

Renee & Best-friend
(December 2018)
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Issa Myth! – 5 Misconceptions About Concussions

Concussion injuries are one area of study that still has a lot of question marks. Meaning, there is a lot of things that doctors and the people simply just do not know about traumatic brain injuries. This can give rise to many misconceptions about the injury. Let’s look at just 5 misconceptions of traumatic brain injuries that I think are important to discuss and rule out.

“A concussion can’t be caused by whiplash”

Only someone who’s never had a concussion would come up with this. YES, you most definitely can receive a concussion from whiplash or any quick force to the head. You do not have to be struck in the head in order to receive a brain injury, but instead can be caused by any type of violent shaking of the head. Clear this misconception up by reading “What is a Concussion?” here!

“Prolonged concussion pain is psychological”

After a while and my symptoms continued to persist for about 5 months, my mother asked my doctor, “Do you think that Nicole’s pain could be psychological?”. I remember being extremely hurt by her question, how could she question that my pain was all just made up in my head. The pain is real and is not just something you are hallucinating about or making up. I validate you and I believe your pain, prolonged concussion symptoms are not just made up, they are real and your pain is real.

“Post-concussion syndrome will never go away”

I have seen a lot of people say that once you develop post-concussion syndrome, you should just accept the “new normal”. To say that there is no hope and you can not reduce your symptoms or have a normal life again is just not true. For some it may be the case, but is NOT the case for all. Post-concussion syndrome can go away and it can be healed completely, if treated correctly. It is a lie to say that post-concussion can not be resolved once it develops, I and many others stand as a witness. Don’t give up! Read “Exercise to Recovery” for more on one of the ways that I overcame PCS for good!

“You should continue to rest and wait after developing post-concussion syndrome”

This is a very controversial topic at the moment and currently being debated by doctors across the world. Is rest really the answer to curing post-concussion syndrome? Personally, I do not think so, concussion recovery is ACTIVE and not passive, I say this so many times, because I think it is so important. Concussion recovery is going to vestibular therapy, ocular therapy, physical therapy, exercising, eating correctly, meditating, and so so much more. You can not just sit and wait and expect for your post-concussion syndrome to just go away. It is so much more than that. Read “When Post Concussion Syndrome Develops” for more.

“Your concussion is only mild.”

This hits home for me and is the reason why I believe that the classification of brain injuries, though can be important, is a bit misleading. The word mild means gentle in nature and behavior, according to the Merriam-Weber dictionary. Ok, my “mild”, my gentle in nature and behavior concussion lasted eight months, gave me chronic headache, nausea, terrible light sensitivity, and so many more complications. In all honesty, the word “mild” in order to describe brain injuries is misleading. Our brains are important, or brains are… a big deal! Any and every blow to the head is serious! We’re talking about the organ that allows all bodily functions to work! This is serious and its time that doctors and physicaly trainers emphasize this to their patients. Its not just a head injury.

“I am alone” (Did I say 5? I meant 6)

THIS IS THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION OF THEM ALL! I think when you are recovering from a brain injury you can become so isolated, which can cause depression and other negative emotions to develop. But, this is simply not true. You are not alone and your symptoms are not unique to only you. There are millions of people going through the same struggles as you, and there’s people right here on ConcussionBeGone going through the same struggles as you too! You are NOT alone and you are being supported and loved by a group of people who know exactly what you are going through. Join one of ConcussionBeGone’s Support Groups right here(;

So in conclusion, yes you can receive a concussion from whiplash, no your pain is not psychological, yes PCS can resolve completely, no your concussion is not just mild, and NO you are NOT alone!

Happy Healing Everybody(:

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