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How to learn your limits while they seem different every day? Concussion rehabilitation

Updated: Jan 10

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During my concussion rehabilitation, they always told me to learn my limits. I tried so hard to know what my limits are, but it feels like my limit is different every day. It’s almost an impossible or endless job to find that balance.

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There is no fixed limit, my post-concussion syndrome is changing all the time

If there is one thing that people with post-concussion syndrome have in common, it’s that it's so hard to know your limits. Everyone always says just try to find that limit and don’t go over it the next time. But that’s a bit easy to say, right? I searched for my limit for so long, and every time I thought I’d found my limit, it changed again. You are constantly changing, which makes it hard.

I am not sure if this is the same for you, but for me, there is no fixed limit. I wish it was that easy; then I would never go over my limits after all these years. But I do; it seems like it’s happening again and again.

What they said at my concussion rehabilitation

I remembered I had a session with my psychologist during this program, and she said, try to write down when you’re going over your limits. I followed up this task and wrote this down for two weeks. From that moment, I realized there is no limit, every day is so different. She didn’t understand that this was the case. I think you can guess that I didn’t have many sessions with her after that.

Some days, it feels like I can handle the whole world

Do you have those days as well? Where you feel like nothing will ever set you back. You are almost floating through the day, and you maybe forget that you have post-concussion syndrome. You don’t have to think that much about what you aren’t able to do. Sometimes, it feels like it’s 0 or 100 and nothing in between. When I am at 100, it feels like there is no limit, but there always is, and I am sometimes too enthusiastic because I am finally feeling good.

I don’t want to hold myself back on those days because I can finally enjoy things, do them, and it feels like my life is a bit more normal again. You just don’t want to hold yourself back ALL THE TIME. So, the times that I don’t have to, I enjoy them maximum, even if I know that it can cause a setback. Sometimes, those days are worth a setback. Even when I don’t go over my limit, a setback can be around the corner. So why not enjoy your high moments, right? I know this is against the rules of concussion rehabilitation, but sometimes, all those rules make me crazy.

On other days, it’s like only getting out of bed is too much

But as we all know, when you experience post-concussion syndrome, there are days where you can barely do anything. You wake up and immediately feel, “this is not my day.” You have to cancel some appointments again, you aren’t in a good mood, you feel emotional, and you wonder if this would be your life forever. Days can suddenly change from feeling on top of the world into wanting to crawl into bed under your blankets.

In the beginning, it almost felt like every hour was different. Right now (after 5 years), it feels a bit more steady. My lows aren’t that low anymore, but my highs are still there. Because I know how it feels to be in that low state, I can be more grateful for the moments I feel good, I don't’ take them for granted anymore like I did before my accident.

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How to deal with those mood swings?

In the beginning, I always tried to fight against my lows. I felt frustrated that it was happening again, that there was another setback. How could this happen? But sometimes, I just didn’t have an answer for that. I learned at concussion rehabilitation to let go of it and accept it when I wasn’t feeling good. It felt like this saved me a bit of energy, and my setbacks lasted a bit shorter.

There are a few signs that show me when I am reaching my limit:

  • Every time I feel restless, when I notice I am clenching my jaws, I know that I am going over my limits. It’s a sign that there is too much stress in my body.

  • When I feel more irritated about the little things, I know that I have to take a step back.

  • When I feel more emotional about things, I know that I am feeling overwhelmed.

  • When I notice I want to reduce my screen time, I know that it’s time to take a step back.

  • When I don’t want to socialize, exercise or do something fun. Every time it happens, I just want to stay at home, alone. I know it’s time again to take a step back.

Finding that balance feels like my main task

I am at my best when I find that balance between rest and doing things, but it’s so hard sometimes to find that balance, even when you follow all the rules during concussion rehabilitation. It sometimes feels like that’s my main task every day, finding that balance to function well.

I love this quote that resonates with that because it’s so true:

“I am constantly torn between "I can't let this concussion ruin my life" and "I have to listen to my body and rest"

Sometimes, it’s hard to recognize the moment you reach your limits. I learned over the years with my post-concussion syndrome that the list above are my symptoms when I reach my limit. But even knowing and recognizing them, I don’t want to listen, I notice it too late or I have a setback without getting the signals. It still feels like an unpredictable game every day. But over time, the game is getting easier.

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