(Project Brain Wave) Six years ago I suffered a concussion while playing basketball, and have been dealing with post-concussive symptoms ever since. As all athletes who have sustained concussions know, as well as their families, it is a terrifying journey. In 2005, when I first got hit and was in agonizing pain, many people said to me “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” I hoped and I prayed that they were right. As other outsiders preached the same thing throughout the second year of my exhausting adventure, my depression told them I was not in the mood to hear it—but maybe, just maybe, it’s almost over. After the third year, if you were the individual to tell me that there was a “light at the end of the tunnel,” it was not a good thing for you… Let’s just say that it was in their favor that I was not a violent person, because I would have loved to shove that “light” where the sun doesn’t shine…
At age seventeen, I was taken out of high school and was told I would never be allowed to play basketball again. At age eighteen, I was ripped out of college because my migraines took over my life, and at nineteen, I wanted to end my life.
I am now twenty-three-years old, and I make it my goal in life to raise awareness about the severity of concussions, as I want to help those who have suffered and who are now suffering from the lasting effects. Six years ago I only had the support of my family, and I believe that there needs to be more than just that. I had very few friends, but their lives went on and left me behind. Other than my family, I had no one—no one to talk to, no one who could understand the pain I was in, and no one to help me.
It was very hard to understand how something so horrible could happen to someone like me. I would never want anyone in this world to suffer the pain I have gone through, but I could not comprehend why God, or why the world, had it out for me.
I was trying so hard to succeed and get an athletic scholarship, and it was taken away from me. I was the normal junior in high school who hung out with her friends and lived the typical kind of life your ordinary teenager would live, and that was ripped away from me too.
I asked that question for four years, and with the help of my family and counseling, I realized it was time to wake up and be strong, and become the person I used to be—only better.
After you suffer from chronic pain for so long, it is very easy to give up, and I wanted to many times. But every day I woke up, I realized how lucky I was to have such an amazing family with a roof over my head. I was blessed that I had the ability to take long walks, breathe fresh air, and drive my car on the good days I had. “Normal” people won’t understand, but when you go through something so tragic, you learn to appreciate everything in life. I had to find the positives, because once I dwelled on the negatives, I spiraled right back downhill into depression, and it was a struggle to get back out.
Many things have changed in my life and it’s been a very hard adjustment. I have lost friends, but gained new friends who became family. I have to watch everything I do because my migraines can be easily triggered by a simple jolt. But it’s my life, and after six years I have grown to become used to it. I am a much stronger person because of everything I have been through.
If you have suffered from a concussion and are still having problems with post-concussive syndrome, I want you to know that it will not be an easy road. I am not going to sugar coat anything, because many people have given me false hope in the past and I think that is the worst thing. You have to be strong enough to get through it, and when you do, you will be so proud of yourself. You will be a strong, motivated individual and once you find your health and happiness, nothing will stop you. Not many people will understand what you are going through or what you have gone through unless they have suffered something themselves. You might have to deal with your peers judging you and calling you fake because they are ignorant. They cannot see the pain you are in. I wish I could tell you it’s not going to hurt, but it will. When you are in pain and an outsider has the audacity to judge you, they are not worth your time. Take it from me, I wasted a good three to four years worrying about what people thought of me and it only made me more depressed. You need to fight to get better and that is it. It is hard to hear but school, a career, and anything else can wait, there is a whole lifetime for that. You need to focus on yourself and getting better.
Once you learn to become oblivious to the ignorance of others and you focus on yourself, life will get better. I have the right to say that because I have been there. I am not an outsider looking in trying to make you feel better. I have learned that I don’t have to follow the blueprint that is forced on us in society. It’s the norm to graduate high school, go to college, get a job, and start a family… Well, someone wanted me to take a detour and make my own blueprint in life, and it’s okay to mix things up a bit. If you want to feel better you need to make it happen, think of the positives in your life and you will slowly start to see that light.
Education Advocate, Project Brain Wave