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These things took me years to learn. Actually, people knew them, but nobody thought to tell me. And the people who knew them, either didn’t tell me right away, or were not within reach of me.

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Now, thanks to the interwebs, I’m passing them along. And I’m writing a short guide for people who also need to know this. It’s not long. It will have pictures. It will be basic and (hopefully) easily digestible, so even a “freshly” concussed person can use it.

Here they are:

  1. You’ve had a brain injury. Not once, when I was concussed, did anyone ever tell me that I had a brain injury. Not when I fell, or got hit, or got tackled, or was in a car accident. The idea that my brain was injured — and I had to take appropriate precautions — never came up. That may be because the idea of brain injury frightens people. They think of brain damage, and that makes them think of stupidity, idiocy, being “retarded”. There’s a lot of stigma around brain damage, so brain injury awareness takes a hit, as well. But if I’d know that my brain was injured, that could have made a difference in how I treated myself. I’ve known for over 30 years that the brain changes — I just needed to know that I needed to take appropriate action to heal. But I didn’t know. So, I didn’t do what was necessary.
  2. When the brain is injured, it can release a lot of chemicals that do strange things to the connections that help you think. The connections that help your brain think may have gotten disconnected and information isn’t getting to the right places — like when electrical wires are frayed and not enough electricity gets through. Just like the lights get dim when there’s a brown-out, your brain is having its own brown-out. There may also be a lot of “gunk” in your brain that needs to be cleared out, so that your connections can heal and be repaired.
  3. Your brain has changed. The connections that used to get information from one place to the next have changed, and your noggin isn’t processing things as fast as it used to.
  4. Your ability to plan and follow through may be affected — you may find pieces of information missing, here and there, and you may not pick up on every detail that you need to make the right decisions.
  5. You are probably going to be more distracted than usual. Your brain will get confused and not always know what details it should be paying attention to, or remembering. As a result, you might have more trouble remembering things — especially important things, like dates and schedules and appointments.
  6. All of this is going to make you feel very, very tired. You may need to sleep more than usual. Sleep also helps your brain clear out the gunk that gets released when it gets injured.
  7. Being tired makes you cranky. It also can make you more emotional than usual. You may find yourself behaving in “strange” ways, or thinking “strange” things. You may also find yourself getting much angrier than before — and much more quickly than before.
  8. You might feel like you are crazy… like you’re losing your mind. You’re not. Your brain is just “recalibrating” and figuring out how to do the things it used to do so easily.
  9. You may feel like this for a while. The best thing you can do is be patient with yourself and be aware of the ways that you are not functioning as well as you would like. Don’t rush it. These things take time. Eat healthy food, stay away from a lot of junk food, sugar, caffeine, and stress, drink plenty of water, and get lots of good sleep.
  10. Plenty of other people have had brain injuries / concussions, and most of them are getting on with their lives. You may notice some changes in your personality and abilities, but some of the changes may be for the better. Be patient. Pay attention. Be the best person you can. This is not the end.
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