Updated: Jul 7
When I look back at the first two years after my accident, I wasted a lot of energy trying to act normal in front of my friends and family. Why did I do that? I just felt like there was something wrong, but I couldn’t explain it; the easiest thing to do was pretend that nothing was going on. Aside from the explaining part, I felt ashamed and embarrassed. I didn’t want them to see me as a “weak” person. I couldn’t do the same things as other people my age. I was 25 when I had the accident. I had a busy social life back then. That vibrant life wasn’t my normal life anymore, but I couldn’t accept it. I pretended like nothing was going on, for a long time.
Desperate to be the person I was before my concussion
Every day, I wished it was all just a bad dream and that there should come a moment I would wake up and be “normal” again. I waited and waited, day in, day out, but nothing changed. The first month after my accident, I still went to work full time; I can’t even imagine how I did it but I did. I tried to keep up with my social life until the moment I knew that I couldn’t pretend anymore, as if nothing was going on.
All the time it was an inside struggle—a struggle I didn’t share with anyone. I just felt so weird, not myself at all, and I didn’t know what was going on with me. Yes, I had a scooter accident, but I didn’t fall on my head. I wasn’t unconscious. I just hurt my ankle. Why was I feeling so weird? What was happening? Why am I making mistakes at work? I was always such a perfectionist before the accident. What was going on? If I didn’t know for myself what was going on, how could I explain it to others?
There was a moment when I knew that I couldn’t pretend I felt normal anymore and I just broke. I explained that I was not feeling well, but ’that was it. I went to my doctor and was told I needed some rest. “You put too much on your plate,” the doctor said. I believed him, what else could I do? I stopped believing it when nothing changed. I had already been at home for 8 months and still didn’t talk about it that much. I felt embarrassed that I was not the happy, busy, positive girl I once was.
When friends visited, I always said I wasn’t feeling well. ”I just need some rest. I am getting better,” I lied. In the beginning, people try to understand and are really supportive. After several months telling the same story, people know this isn’t just a “you put too much on your plate” situation. Of course, I knew this all the time, but I just didn’t know what to say, and I felt embarrassed to admit it. I was strong and healthy, not “this” person I was during my first year.
The “what if” question
Pretending like nothing is going on will cost you a lot of energy. For a long time I wondered what if I took the rest I needed, especially in the beginning? Would it have made any difference? Would I be healed by now? Well… I will never know the answer to this question.
I had my scooter accident on a weekday around 11pm. I was driving home on my scooter from the train station. I remember that my train was delayed by 5 minutes. What if the train had been right on time, so I was there just 5 minutes earlier? The other scooter I bumped into wouldn’t have been there and I wouldn't have had the accident. I was so mad during my first year, I guess I needed to put the blame on something. Of course, I didn’t get anywhere with those thoughts; it was just a waste of my energy and mood. It took a while but I realize it now ;).
Looking for answers
I had so many questions and such few answers. However, the thing I was sure about was what happens when you act like everything’s normal when it isn’t. It breaks you up and leads you nowhere. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted answers to all the questions I had. After almost a year of “rest,”—I don’t like to say rest because it wasn’t peaceful at all—I felt more stressed than ever. I needed answers. There was something going on and I needed to know what I could do to recover. One thing was sure, just waiting wasn’t moving me forward.
I started to Google my symptoms. It wasn’t easy because I had so many different kinds of symptoms. How was I ever going to find out what it could be? I almost lost hope but then just out of nowhere, someone sent me a link to a blog post about a woman who shared her story. I read her story and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Everything she described was MY story. She wrote about how she sustained a concussion from a whiplash. From that moment, I knew I had a whiplash and a concussion.
Things started to turn around after I was open about my situation
I finally knew what was going on with me! I didn’t know if I should be “happy” about it so I could look for appropriate care, or to be more worried. There isn’t a quick fix for my problem and it seemed like the road to recovery would be a difficult one. I was determined to do everything I could to get better. It felt like a breakthrough.
I informed family and friends about it and I was able to explain a bit better, how I felt and what was going on. I know if you aren’t experiencing a concussion yourself, you will never know how it really feels, physically and emotionally. Talking about it really helped me and people really tried their best to understand and support me. I am grateful for that.
Support from people in the same situation saved me
I needed support from people in the same situation and started looking to social media for more information and tips. I found some Dutch support groups and I couldn’t be happier. It felt like this was the turnaround I was looking for. I got so many tips and I finally felt like I wasn’t the only person experiencing these symptoms. It sent me on the right path towards my recovery and I didn’t have to do it all by myself anymore.
One thing I am sure about—without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am so grateful for groups like this, especially when you don’t get any support from your own doctor. I hope this community will give you the support and help you need, and the same turnaround as I experienced. I never want you to feel lost or alone in your journey. Being open about your story, asking questions, and feeling supported is healing. It’s easier to find the missing pieces of this healing puzzle together than alone. Believe me, it can make the difference.