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Living my life with an invisible scar

Updated: Feb 6



Having a concussion is hard to understand for outsiders because you don’t look sick. An invisible scar is something people with concussions know far too well. Most of us are dealing with ongoing struggles and pain. Waking up and falling asleep with headaches and many other symptoms are something you can’t describe to people who are not going through the same rollercoaster.


A concussion is something that will enter your life at the most unexpectable moment. You don’t feel like the same person anymore or you want to be the old person so badly but you can’t because of your symptoms. But what if those symptoms are not visible to other people and you can’t explain them well? What if you go to the doctor for a CT and MRI scan but all tests come out negative? You’re the only one that is feeling those symptoms and no one can see or confirm them.


I experience many symptoms daily. Headache. Light and noise sensitivity. Lightheadedness. Blurred vision. Dizziness. Seeing spots. Ringing ears. Incoordination issues. Fatigue. Weakness. Nausea and I am more emotional.


After a year, I finally got the diagnosis of a concussion by a doctor who understood my symptoms. But this diagnosis brought my dreams to a screeching halt. I had to pause everything for such a long time. Not doing my job and pausing my social life were the hardest things to accept. It felt like my world stopped. In the beginning, everyone understands you need rest and people are reaching out to you to ask how you’re doing. But still having symptoms after more than a year becomes hard for outsiders to understand because you don’t look sick.


My life for a long time consisted: Eat. Rest. Sleep. Repeat. Day in. Day out. I always leaned on my family and friends for support but some people weren’t as understanding. Some people and even doctors assumed it was all in my head. I got a referral to a psychologist with a note of an anxiety disorder. I felt so misunderstood and frustrated.


Many people are still unaware of how a concussion can impact every aspect of someone’s life. It’s difficult to describe your symptoms without being able to show it and the subsequent impact it has on someone’s life and plans. I describe my injury as an invisible journey, as an invisible pain, as an invisible scar. People don’t see what’s happening on the inside, but it can be a challenge for those dealing with concussion symptoms.


For the first 2 years, I was unable to talk to people about my accident without it resulting in tears. It was like my world was falling apart and I didn’t know how to fix it. I pretended many times that everything was fine, I did not want the concussion to define me. Despite the suffering, I always tried to stay positive and to move forward with my recovery and life. I managed to put my health first and to make progress in my recovery. I just couldn’t accept it and it made me much more motivated to go after it and pursue it.


A concussion recovery can be a dark place and it can be easy to lose hope. But it’s so important to never give up, even if people/doctors tell you that you have to live with it. I want you to know that there is always help out there. Don’t lose hope and try new treatments to get better. Have hope and faith and believe that it would get better because it will.

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Silvie van de Ree

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