“I got my first concussion about 9 years ago and have gotten at least 14 more that the doctors know about since then. I played water polo in high school until my 4th concussion forced me to quit. Throughout my senior year of high school I went late and left early most days while sleeping through what I was there for. I struggled with my short term and long term memory, my friends had to tell me what classes I had and sometimes I would get lost in the hallways at school. Sometimes I would even get lost and forget where I lived.
Along with severe headaches, memory loss, and depression I also struggled with forming words, spelling simple words, walking, driving, holding conversations, and controlling my emotions. My life and personality had completely changed, and I can never go back. I was no longer the happy athletic girl who everyone thought was so sweet, I was now the sad sleepy girl who couldn’t even remember her childhood. I had to go to many types of therapy, most of which caused me severe pain, to try and regain some normalcy.
My mental processing when I was 18 had reduced to that of a 7 year old in some areas. I gained some of it back through hard work and ended up going to college but when I was there I got more concussions and had to return home. I had to go to rehab 6 hours a day 3 days a week at one of the top brain and spinal cord injury recovery hospitals in California. That was 2 years ago and since then I have suffered more concussions.
I still suffer from headaches 24/7, memory issues, and cognition problems. I am unable to do many normal college student activities or play games with my nephews and sometimes I get jealous and upset. I have tried countless treatments but nothing seems to help the headaches other than caffeine, which only helps for a short time. I still go to physical therapy. But I am starting to become more active and I am even taking classes. I have bad days but I try to enjoy the better days as much as possible.
The hardest part of my concussions is that no one close to me understands what I have/am going through. I felt, and sometimes still feel, so alone.
Many people, including my family, believe that I have faked some of my symptoms to get out of working hard. They believe this even though my personality and activities have completely changed, but I have come to accept it.
Their hostility/disbelief caused me to be ashamed of what I have been through so I hide my symptoms as much as possible. I fake being painless for other people’s sake and it drains me. But I have persevered. I am no longer the sad sleepy girl. I am strong. I am a survivor. To anyone who is living with a brain injury you are strong and you are not alone.”
-Meagen, TBI Survivor