You Have a Concussion: What to Know and How to Help
Three years ago I was sitting in my car at a red light, when another car came up from behind and hit me. While this wasn’t considered a major car accident, I did receive a concussion from it.
Concussions are getting a lot more time in the media now thanks to all the athletes, but most people don’t realize how easy it is to get one in regular life, not just playing sports.
This was not the first concussion I had received (none of them diagnosed from when I played sports) but it was the first time I received more helpful information. I am very grateful to the athletes, their families, and doctors for that.
I’ve also been lucky because my previous doctor had experienced a concussion herself so she was more aware of symptoms and things to help get better.
The Reactions of Others When You Have a Concussion
Most people know concussions are a brain injury. What most people don’t realize though is that because you can’t put a cast on it, rest it, and wait for it to heal, there are more symptoms than just headaches.
Plus, because people can’t see your injury, they don’t believe you have one. They also don’t understand your symptoms so they expect you to function at 100%.
I had this reaction from some family, friends and co-workers. They felt I should have recovered quicker. Some felt I was faking it, or milking the system. Some even took my reactions to situations, as a personal attack against them.
In reality, I was struggling with the symptoms every day, and trying to pay my bills while not working full-time. All that just made everyday life even more stressful, overwhelming and difficult.
Your Brain Never Rests
Your brain runs your entire body. Even when you’re sleeping, your brain is still working. It allows you to continue breathing and keeps your organs functioning. When you have a concussion, everything is affected.
Simple things like making decisions or having a conversation can throw you into a tailspin. Walking even a short distance could exhaust you, give you a headache and make you need a nap.
Exhaustion and pain are two big symptoms. There are some overlooked ones though which can affect everything like moods, decision making, and dealing with stress. They are lack of memory, forgetfulness, and the feeling of your brain being in overdrive.
Honestly for me, I’m tempted to say the worst symptom is the feeling of your brain being in overdrive. You always feel like you are on the brink of losing it, crying, screaming, going crazy, and being over-stressed or overwhelmed. It’s awful.
Mental Health Before a Concussion
The first thing I was taught after this last concussion, was while other injuries (like your neck) can affect your concussion, your state of mind before the concussion also plays a part. Stress, grief, depression, and anxiety all play a part in pushing our mental state beyond healthy.
Suffering a concussion when you are not in a healthy mental state, can affect how you feel during the concussion, how you heal from it, and how fast you recover. It’s just another reason to always take care of your mental health and make it a priority.
A week before I received this concussion, my father passed away. Not only was I stressed but I was also dealing with grief. And it could have affected my concussion symptoms, how I healed and how fast I recovered.
How to Help Yourself When You Have a Concussion
I also learned there are a few things to do, or not do, right after receiving the concussion to help with the healing. Like taking naps, and just sitting in a quiet, dark room. Plus, there is a list of things not to do.
Like using electronics, watching TV, working, multi-tasking (reading and listening to music at the same time). Writing yourself little reminder notes to do things like turn off the stove or lock the front door, help with the forgetfulness. And medication can help with the pain and the brain in overdrive part.
Both the neurologist, and the concussion clinic, recommended I do meditation. From personal experience, meditation calms the mind and therefore your nervous system. I’m not a scientist or a medical professional but I can tell you meditating really did help with the pain and the over-active brain.
It allowed me focus on other things. In the past I didn’t have a good experience with drugs and a concussion so this time I chose to do it drug free. It’s not an option I recommend everyone using though because it can be a struggle. Especially if you end up with migraines from the concussion like I did.
An Alternative Tip
Along the same lines of meditation, I also used floatation therapy. Otherwise known as sensory deprivation. Being enclosed in a tank of body temperature, salt water with no light and no sound could cause you to experience some anxiety, panic attacks or other problems though.
Because of the humidity, I thought I couldn’t breathe my first time. I was convinced I was going to suffocate and die. It felt so good though I worked through it, and after about my fourth time, I had no problems.
Floatation therapy allows your body and brain to relax to such an extent, you reach a meditative state not easily reached on your own. It calmed my brain down better than anything I had ever tried before. I also really appreciated that darkness and silence.
I spoke so highly of it to my massage therapist that he recommended it to another client who had just suffered two concussions in two months. He found it just as helpful as I did.
How Symptoms Can Affect Everyday Life
With this concussion, I got stressed out easily with the simplest of things. The idea of people visiting and staying with me, something I have always encouraged and enjoyed, made my mind go into a dark place. I just wasn’t capable of looking after myself, my home as well as hosting guests. It was too much and it was too overwhelming.
It’s common to suffer from depression with a concussion so I worked really, really, hard on staying positive. Also, my Mom and a friend were amazing and contacted me daily or every few days, plus the other family and friends who would reach out to see how I was doing.
When you have a concussion, you must take care of yourself first, but having a support system can help you through it. Being surrounded by the negative people I mentioned earlier, can actually hinder your healing process.
Don’t get me wrong, some people receive a concussion, have a headache for a week and that is it. But everyone is different and I’ve noticed with each concussion I’ve experienced, things change. They last longer and the symptoms get worse.
So, you should always follow your doctor’s instructions and do whatever you can to help yourself.
About the author
Teresa Carnegie is the person behind Dapsile. A new resource web-site created to help people, with a little bit of everything. It provides information, product reviews and business services. The site is continuously growing and has added ‘A Different Point of View’ section for writers, artists, and outspoken creative people to share their work. Teresa brings to Dapsile, an ingrained need to help people, with the added belief that the more we share, the more we help others. That and her love of learning, travel, eating and trying new things, to name a few.