Updated: Jul 7
After my concussion, I felt like my world was on pause but the rest of the world hadn't changed and went on like it always did.. The only thing I could focus on was my concussion, I struggled going through the day and sometimes I didn’t even notice what was happening outside my “concussion” world.
At the moment you experience something traumatic in your life like an illness or accident, the whole world is turned upside down. You don’t know your body anymore, you don't know anymore how to react to things happening around you.. Everything you did before your "accident" just doesn't feel natural anymore. I didn't know how to cope with the situation, so I had to take a step back and take a look at what's going on.
I had to press the "pause“ button but I tried to press the “play” button many times. Bad days were a constant in my life, nothing was the same anymore. All the things that I used to do had changed because I didn’t know how to react to those “new” situations. Before my accident, I was always busy, worked 40 hours a week and had a busy social life. I couldn’t work anymore and seeing a friend for 1 hour was exhausting sometimes. I literally pressed the pause button but it made me sad. My life slowed down, I didn't further my career, my social life was becoming worse and the world was turning so small.
Try to maintain the same speed as others
I knew that I was a fighter and this feeling of slow motion while the world was carrying was something that I couldn't accept.. I tried to maintain the same speed as all the people around me. Of course, this wasn’t something I could keep up with. After trying so many times, I accepted that being in slow motion is okay and working on my recovery is my number one priority right now.. It costs so much energy to pretend you’re at the same level of someone without a concussion.
Getting a concussion will put a pause on your life.. All you need to focus on is your recovery. Just like with any other illness, you need to rest in order to recover.. But what if the recovery phase takes so much longer than you ever thought? How long will my life be in this pause phase?
A real pause doesn’t exist
I know it’s hard to believe but your life will never be on pause. From the moment you get the concussion, your body is working hard to recover from it. You are already building your new life, even if it takes such a long time. The thing is, it’s not the life you imagined, so it feels like your “old” life is waiting for you around the corner until you’re healed and ready to continue it again.
For me, it sometimes feels like some activities are still "waiting" for me until I'm able to do them again. It feels like I need to find some more pieces of the puzzle to recover before I can press the play button instead of the pause/slow motion button in life. The hardest thing about having a concussion is that it isn’t an easy puzzle, it’s the hardest puzzle I ever did in my life.
Your life will be in slow motion for a longer period
In the beginning most doctors told me it can take weeks before it’s working normal again. I thought WEEKS? What, putting my life on pause for weeks?! Now after almost 4 years, I can laugh about the fact I was only thinking in “weeks” instead of months or years.
In the following years after my accident, I had to put many things on pause: my social life, dating, working and some hobbies. It’s not that I didn’t do anything anymore but if I had any doubts about if I were able to do something, I rather didn’t do it at all. I had to make some priorities like going to doctors’ appointments or only seeing my best friends instead of all people I know.
If I did this for a while, everything would be okay again eventually, right? Everything felt uncertain and putting things on pause without knowing when to release that button can be so frustrating. No one could tell me for how long I should press that pause button or if I ever could release it. The not knowing part is really hard and it can be difficult to stay positive sometimes if you don’t feel any improvements while you’re doing the best you can. But even if you don’t feel them right away, it doesn't mean you’re not improving. Sometimes it takes time to notice changes.
My way of getting out of the slow motion
I didn’t learn this within a few months, it took way longer than that and I am still learning how to do it. But over time things will get easier and in the end, I can say my life currently feels more balanced than it did before my accident. I know it’s less spontaneous but I realized life, in general, will never be perfect, I chose to focus on the positive things in life.
What gives you energy and what doesn’t?
I became so much more aware of what I did with my time, what would make me happy, what gave me energy and what only costs energy. I cut out all the friendships that didn’t mean a lot to me and things that I was just doing but were not making me really happy from the inside. I realized I had many social obligations I didn’t even enjoy. Before my accident, I also had this fear of missing out on cool things. Now, I learned to say no to situations and it really feels like I got some control back over my life.
If this is something you can’t do right now, don’t worry, it takes time and I am sure it will happen to you as well. Step by step, trying new things and talking to others in the same situation is something that really helped me pushing myself forward.
The first step is to make a list of things that cost you energy and things that will give you energy. Try to cut out the things that cost you energy and add more things to give you energy. See my list below <3
Things that cost me energy
Friendships that don’t mean a lot to me
Pushing myself to do the same sports as before my accident
Doing groceries every day
Spending time on social media
Pushing myself too hard
Holding on to old beliefs
Things that give me energy
Maintain a few good friendships
Listening to books/podcasts
Yoga and meditation
Doing groceries just once a week
Exploring hobbies (photography/painting)
Being gentler on myself, accepting rest days
Gratitude journal, affirmations
I am sure you can do this and you will feel the benefits soon.