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4 Surprising Ways Traumatic Brain Injury Changed Me

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My high school experience may have seemed amazing on paper, but that was far from the truth. Sure, I was a costume designer for an award-winning high school theater company and received grades I was proud of, but I had six concussions and am still trying to manage a traumatic brain injury.

I started playing soccer when I was 3 years old. Was I talented with a chance of playing Division I sports in university? Absolutely not, but I enjoyed doing this activity with my friends.

I remember what caused my first concussion, but I could not tell you what happened for the next six months. I was playing in a soccer match against a rival town and was playing defense. I tried to block the ball from going into the goal. And then everything went black.

Since then, I’ve had the unfortunate luck of getting a minor concussion each time I got hit in the head, from sleepwalking to being in a car accident. I haven’t had a concussion in a year and a half now, which is unfortunately the longest I’ve been without a concussion, but it’s still a victory on my end.

My bruises have faded, but I’m still dealing with a traumatic brain injury and post-concussive syndrome. You just can’t see it. This is true with invisible illnesses in general, and it’s frustrating to be constantly doubted.

I’ve noticed some of my behavior has changed since my head injuries, and I’m ready to be open about how these new symptoms have affected my life, as it’s nothing I should be ashamed of. Here are my symptoms I’m ready to admit I get and what I’m doing to cope. I’m sharing my experiences so hopefully other people won’t feel as alone as I did.

1. I get paranoid and jump to the worst conclusions. Sure, I’ve always been a worrier but nothing like this. For example, when someone doesn’t respond to a message or an email, I jump to the conclusion that they actually hate me and want nothing to do with me. I know at the back of my mind this is not the case, but my emotions tell me otherwise. I’m dealing with this in therapy, but it isn’t easy.

2. I haven’t been hungry. Not in years. I’ve always been a huge foodie. I like to eat – I’ve just completely lost my appetite. This is extremely frustrating. I’ve tried my best to eat regularly, but it’s annoying that I lost my ability to get hungry. I am trying to practice radical acceptance to deal with this.

3. I’m dealing with pretty bad insomnia. Dealing with other pain-related chronic illnesses, like vasculitis and fibromyalgia, doesn’t help with this. I’ve tried different methods to relax, but I haven’t succeeded yet.

4. I haven’t been able to exercise at all without being in pain for days, not even running. While I hope to return to exercise one day, I’m finding alternative activities to do, like hanging out with my dog and writing.

I’m hoping none of these symptoms will be permanent. Even if they are, I will learn to live with them. Dealing with a traumatic brain injury is tough, but I’m not going to give up.

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Originally published: May 28, 2019
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