Having suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in February 2014 after slipping on a patch of ice in the driveway and landing full force on the back of my skull, I have witnessed first-hand what our bodies (and minds) are capable of during times of extreme pain, fatigue, and distress.
I was shocked at the reaction of many of my so-called friends, telling me “It’s just a concussion” and to “get over it — it’s no big deal.”
WHAT?! Since when are concussions no big deal?!
(answer: never — they ARE a big deal…. and can be life-altering with major consequences).
To put things into perspective, here are some of the things I was dealing with:
- My cognitive processing system was badly damaged — I had no idea how to use an ATM machine, my microwave, or a gas pump
- I had visual problems — later to be diagnosed as double vision and convergence problems
- My short-term memory was pretty much non-existent — I literally got lost and had panic attacks driving home from familiar places I had driven to hundreds of times before
- I had a constant, stabbing pain in my head where my skull had made an impact with the pavement — and would later be told I had permanent nerve damage which results in the entire left side of my head going “numb”
- I was suffering from a great deal of aphasia — which is a condition where you can not come up with the word, or you say a completely wrong word
- Dealing with Neuro fatigue is one of the most challenging things I have ever had to deal with in my life…… and learning how to balance life/work/fatigue
- Dizziness and Vertigo often kept me from being able to do anything.… it is a completely debilitating side effect of head trauma.
The entire first year after my fall is pretty much a blur…. while I had to continue going through the daily motions of running my business in order to keep a roof over my head, I spent far more hours in bed than I did anything else.
At the one-year mark, I had begun to think I was never going to get better…. I was living with a perpetual hell inside my head and no one could understand what I was dealing with. One by one, friends slipped away…. leaving me to feel even more isolated and alone than I could ever have imagined. I contemplated suicide (not because I was lonely, but because I was in SO much pain, and couldn’t see myself ever getting better).
I made a risky and bold move — I wrote a very personal blog post about what I had been dealing with for the past year — and published it on the Huffington Post. What happened next was completely amazing!
I began receiving emails from strangers all over the world — thanking me for putting into words exactly how they had been feeling. We were fighting the same fight, I was no longer alone!!
I knew it was time to start healing my physical and emotional trauma so I could continue to be a voice for TBI.
Eventually, I began to start up my daily yoga practice again…. and low and behold the dizzy and vertigo slowly started to subside (not completely gone… but manageable).
In addition to yoga, I also began weight training in an attempt to get my strength and endurance back up. Sitting dormant for over a year is extremely hard on your body, and mine needed to get moving again.
I embraced essential oils, which I had already been using. I didn’t take one single prescription med during my recovery. I regulated my pain, mood, and everything else by using EO’s.
My neurologist finally sent me to a Cranial Sacral Therapist ….. I firmly believe CST saved my life…. it helped relieve all the pressure and fogginess inside my head (which also contributed to relieving the dizzy/vertigo problems).
Writing has been an emotional outlet……. a therapy if you will. Knowing that my words help others cope with their TBI gives me something to look forward to.
I also began seeing a Therapist several times a month about 10 months into my recovery, after I had a major panic attack (though I had no idea that’s what it was at the time). We determined I was afraid of hurting myself again…. with snow and ice being a trigger for me.
I honor my bod, and give it grace when it needs extra sleep. I am starting to understand my limits and don’t force myself to get things done.
Additionally, I honor my mind and no longer get frustrated when I can’t quite figure out how to do things or come up with words. I understand that my recovery is still in progress, and may continue to be for many more years.
Having an attitude of gratitude for everything good in my life (as well as the challenges that i have gone through, which taught me valuable lessons) is critical for my emotional healing. I encourage every one of you reading this to start a daily gratitude practice….. simply write all that you’re grateful for in a journal at the end of the day. It has powerful effects on your well being!!
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