In 2008, I was diagnosed with post concussive disorder and chronic migraine following a sports related injury. I had multiple head injuries in my youth (from sports) that were never treated and after meeting with my doctor, we realized my total tallied to 5 concussions. However it wasn’t until then that I really had noticed the change. My classes became difficult, my concentration and focus worsened and I began feeling like I couldn’t remember things (all of the time). I struggled with reading and typing (things I had never had a difficult time with). I had always been a good student but my grades quickly dropped and I realized that it took me longer and longer to get through material. It had been suggested that I take time off from school; however I was stubborn and didn’t understand the severity of my situation. Honestly, I was more upset with the fact that I couldn’t compete in athletic events at the time. Since 2008, I have been diagnosed with 5 more concussions, bringing my total to 10. I have had to stop playing almost all of the sports I’d played my entire life, had to learn tricks in remembering simple things, and had to hear far too many people tell me that I couldn’t do the things that I loved any more. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to go to college. I thought that I wouldn’t ever have a day without a splitting migraine, intense nausea or dizziness that makes you want to fall over. I thought that I would never feel in control of my body again.
For the past 5 years I have been learning to live with a neurocognitive disorder and lingering post concussive symptoms. Honestly, as difficult as it has been, I think it’s made me stronger. Now, I am finishing up my undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at Mount Holyoke College. I am coaching ski racing (my favorite sports that I had to give up) and I am exploring the world of non-contact athletics. I still struggle to remember things and have had to learn new techniques such as drawing, rhyming or learning information to certain beats or oscillations. I am now interested in pursuing a degree in medicine to help others struggling with brain injuries. Hopefully one day I can use my experience and insight to help others. On the outside I may appear to be an average college student. But on the inside I am a Brain Injury Survivor.