Updated: Mar 30
(Or listen to my podcast).
When you sustain a concussion, you can’t do things as you used to. A lot of things can be a trigger for a setback. I tried to do everything the best way I could and slowly ended up living in my own world, filled with rules of my own making.
Why I Made Those Rules
I was anxious that I would experience setbacks, so I did everything I could to prevent them. I am not sure if it helped because I was experiencing them anyway—even when I got as much rest as possible. I wanted to get better, and I would have done anything for that. So, I pushed myself to do a lot of things. I made rules for myself and believed they would help me get better. But were they really helping?
One day, I was talking to my psychologist, and she said, “Why are you so hard on yourself? Are you happy? Too many rules can backfire.”
I had to write down all the rules that I made for myself for at least one week. I didn’t even notice that I had become such a control freak. I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. How had I become this person?! I realised that I didn’t want to live my life being a control freak. I knew something needed to change, but I was anxious. What if I didn’t do all those things? Would it slow down my recovery? Would I experience setbacks? Would I be doing enough?
The Rules I Made for Myself
I wrote down all the things I needed to do. All the rules I made, thinking they would help me get better. I made those rules, thinking they would be temporary, but one day, I realized that I had already been living those rules for two years without an end date in mind. That was not how I wanted to spend my life. It didn’t feel temporary anymore. In the end, I knew I was being too hard on myself, and something needed to change so that I could be happier in life.
Below are some rules that I wrote down during that week:
I need to go to bed before 10 PM; otherwise, it will mess up my rhythm.
I need to jump out of bed immediately in the morning; this will give me more energy.
I need to open the curtains; daylight is good for me.
I need to get dressed immediately; otherwise, I will be slow the whole day.
I need to drink a full glass of water and take my supplements before I eat anything.
I need to eat one or two pieces of fruit afterwards.
I need to drink my green smoothie after I eat the fruit.
I need to exercise for at least 30 minutes or go for a walk.
I need to meditate after the exercise.
I need to do some cognitive tasks.
I need to eat my lunch around the same time because structure is good for me.
I need to do at least one useful thing after lunch (e.g., work, reading, groceries, etc.).
I need to eat enough vegetables with my dinner.
I need to cut out all the sugar in my food.
I need to see a friend at least once a week, so as not to get isolated.
I need to listen to podcasts to learn new things.
I need to clean my house to feel more peaceful.
I need to do yoga sessions a few times a week.
I need to make progress on some long-term goals for work.
I need to write in my journal every day.
I need to do healing affirmations every day.
Don’t get me wrong; some of them aren’t “bad” rules and are really helping, but doing all those things felt like I was just existing and not living my life. I felt like a robot, and it drove me insane.
I felt so restless all the time and not having control over my health made it even worse. Making those rules for myself felt like I had a bit of control over my life.
Don’t Throw Out All Your Rules but Be Gentle with Yourself
You don’t have to throw out all your rules; some of mine really helped me. But when you don’t feel good, it will not help you to push yourself into doing those things. There were a lot of days when I didn’t feel well and still pushed myself to do something useful, to do social activities, to exercise vigorously, or to do anything that didn’t make me feel like my life was on pause.
Don’t Try to Fight Your Body; Your Body and Mind Are One
The most important thing is to listen to your body and not fight it. Your body and mind are one.
I fought my body for a long time. I couldn’t accept that it wasn’t listening to my mind. My mind still wanted to do the things that I was used to, but my body was struggling to do those things.
I know it isn’t always easy, but over time, things will get easier, and you will listen when your body tells you it’s had enough. Don’t ignore those signs. Just accept them and take a rest. I believe self-love will speed up your healing process. That’s what all we want, right?
Let Go of Some Rules
Try to let go of some rules for at least a week and see how it feels. Living in a world full of rules isn’t the way you want to live, right? I get it; it’s scary to let go of them. You may feel guilty because it feels like you’re not doing enough to recover. But sometimes, just doing nothing is what your body and mind needs to take a step forward. I bet you will feel more peaceful and less stressed.
It’s okay to skip a yoga class if you don’t feel like doing it that day. It’s okay to not always eat healthy. It’s okay to stay a bit longer in bed because you just want to. It’s okay to not do anything useful and to just be gentle and love yourself for who you are.
During my concussion journey, I felt so lost and lonely.
I was feeling restless all the time. Doctors weren’t able to help me so I was feeling stuck. 🤦🏽♀️
My setbacks were the worst things ever and I didn’t know how to deal with them or prevent them. My days felt more like surviving than enjoying and I was always looking for a balance between rest and doing things.
Thankfully, I'm feeling much better now with the help of professionals who GET it and because of all tips and support from others in the same situation.
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