by Ella Malone, concussion recovery advocate
Part 1 Part 2

After my first blog post for COVD, I received numerous messages from those dealing with concussions. Almost every single one of them asked the same two questions…

Question 1: “Will I ever recover or return to the me I was before?”

If you’ve ever suffered a concussion, you may have experienced changes in your personality and mood. Loved ones and friends of people with brain injuries sometimes notice these changes, too. Our personalities live in our brains, and when the “command center” is damaged, what makes you “you” is not immune to the possibility of long-term changes.

ella jared
This was how I looked for about two years after my concussion until I started vision therapy; then my smile came back around. My twin Jared is on the left.

The answer Question 1 is YES! I believe, and hope, that you will recover in some way, shape, or form, but have to stress that it will be in your own time. The important word in that sentence is “believe”–brain injury recovery is unpredictable, and nobody can truly say whether you will ever be back to 100%. Everyone’s circumstance is different. That’s why everyone takes varying amounts of time to heal and recover. It can take anywhere from days to years, but know this: you have to take your time in your healing process. No matter what course of treatment or rehabilitation you pursue, giving your brain the rest and patience it needs is critical to every person on the road to recovery.

One part of recovery that is often overlooked is acceptance.  In the beginning, we can remember so clearly where “better” is and feel such anguish that we can’t seem to get back to it. This is normal. When your world has been turned upside down, of course you will constantly be trying to turn yourself back upright. However, if we relentlessly drive ourselves to improve and get back where we were, we are only cheating ourselves.  If you can accept where you are and learn to be content with your situation, you will find that you no longer need to ask “When will I get better?”

I was lucky enough to have someone teach me this concept of acceptance about a year ago and I promise you that, once you can accept your current situation for what it is, you will be more content and comfortable where you stand. You will be bothered less by the things going on in your life that you must set aside for a time, and learn to focus inward on caring for yourself.

Question 2: “How do you stay positive?”

In learning acceptance, I see that while I can’t change my circumstances, I can change the way I respond to them. It’s something many of us can learn to do in times of distress: control the way we respond when we can’t change the what’s happening. There are many times in daily life when we can learn to turn bad into good, and hurt into healing, with a simple adjustment of attitude. And while just being positive can’t solve all our problems, it is an important tool for lessening their destructive impact. 

This is how I looked in college after vision therapy. What a difference!

No matter how bad your situation is there is always good in it. You may have to dig, but it’s there. Your personal good may be something as seemingly simple as the fact that you woke up another day, or that you’re still breathing. Each day I would try and find something positive to keep me going. I challenge all of you, even if you don’t have a concussion, to practice finding the good in all situations. You will be amazed by how much more you begin to appreciate things!

So here’s the bottom line of how I stay positive and practice acceptance after the pain, impairment, mental shifts, and emotional turmoil of a concussion.

  • In the words of Toby Mac: 

    Stick with the people who pull the magic out of you, not the madness

    My relationships with my family, friends, and vision therapy team helped me remain positive.T hey kept me going on my some of me hardest days, and it’s why I stick with them. These people continue to pull the magic out of me.

  • Find little ways to boost yourself up.
    Write yourself encouraging notes and hang them around the house. This way, you have friendly reminders of the joy to come.
  • If you are a religious person, exercise your faith.
    During recovery from my first concussion, I was no gleaming ray of light. I was lost and confused. I thought I would never get over my symptoms or recover. I had my faith to rely on, knowing that the pain I felt couldn’t compare to the joy that was coming and that God had plans for me. It’s what got me through most nights.
  • Know that there’s always time for healing.
    You deserve and need to take this time to rest and recover!
  • Practice acceptance of the version of “normal” you’re currently in.

Thank you for reading. Please help COVD spread awareness this Brain Injury Month by sharing my message with others!

COVD’s Annual Meeting next month in Bellevue, Washington will include a lineup of courses on the intersection between sports, concussion, and vision. Register before 3/25 for special pricing!

sports concussion gen ed