Resilience after concussion: bloom where you are planted


Bloom where you are planted: find your way to recovery after sustaining a concussion

Season 2 of the Concussion Stories podcast is here! To kick off this season, I would like to talk about resilience after concussion. Let’s have a closer look at this quote: ‘Bloom where you are planted. Don’t curse what you already have.’ Be ready to get inspired and feel empowered in this all new season of the Concussion Stories podcast!

What now follows is a transcript of this podcast episode.

Table of contents:

02:40 Resilience after concussion
05:42 Feeling desperate after sustaining a concussion
07:25 Breaking the blame cycle
09:41 Season 2 of Concussion Stories

Concussion Stories podcast introduction

[00:00 Melanie] If I say there is hope for complete recovery for people with a concussion, you say…?

[00:07 Professor McCrea] 100%!

[00:08 Professor Maas] And in fact, you didn’t only feel it: you were outside the regular medical system, because they were not interested in you.

[00:16 Professor Sitskoorn] Neuroplasticity actually opens you up to the world. It makes it possible to develop; it makes it possible to rehabilitate.

[00:25 Professor Wilson] Traumatic brain injury has been called a silent epidemic for that reason, because it consists of changes and disabilities that are not obvious to other people.

[00:35 Dr. Zasler] If, as a physician, you felt you had nothing to offer a patient, then I think ethically, you need to say: “I don’t think there’s anything I can offer you. Maybe you should see Dr. M.”

[00:48 Professor Diaz-Arrastia] Historically, we have called these things mild traumatic brain injuries, which implies that, well… It may be a brain injury, but it’s not going to have great consequences, right? And that’s frankly not true.

About the Concussion Stories podcast

[01:05 Melanie] Welcome to Concussion Stories, a Lifeyana podcast series filled with hope. I’m here to let you know that you are not alone in your post-concussion recovery journey. My name is Melanie and I spent six and a half years learning, experimenting, and training in order to find a way to heal myself from post-concussion syndrome.

After making a full recovery by the end of 2018, I embarked on this mission to make the recovery journey easier for you. This is why I started this podcast, wrote detailed blog post and downloadable guides, offer coaching and also the course that I wish I had back when I was recovering – teaching you everything that I needed to know in order to make my recovery happen.

On Concussion Stories, we dig deep while discussing hopeful stories of recovery as well as the hard stuff in the messy middle. Let’s dive right in!

Moving forward is more important than perfection

Welcome at the brink of a new season of Concussion Stories! As autumn started here in The Netherlands, I got the flu like half of all citizens in this country, and sound nasally and am easily out of breath. My apologies! 

When I set out to make this podcast, I decided to always choose moving forward over aiming for perfection, and there’s no better day to practice this than today. We’ve got a whole new season to experience together! So, let’s take what we have and get started.

Resilience after concussion

[02:40 Melanie] I’d like to start out this season with a short story. My partner’s parents watch Hour of Power on Sunday mornings. While making breakfast in their kitchen, I often hear snippets that I find myself writing down eagerly. Last weekend, I heard Bobby Schuler say this wonderful thing: Bloom Where You Are Planted. Don’t curse what you already have. 

That went right onto my quote list: this is all about resilience after concussion. Bloom where you are planted. Where are you planted? Where do you find yourself right now? 

Don’t curse what you already have

And – here comes the second part of the quote – how much do you curse what you already have? If your character is anything like mine, the following questions will resonate with you.

How often do you blame yourself? How much do you punish yourself inside your own head, like I did by thinking angry thoughts aimed at myself? How lazy I am. How spineless. 

How much do you blame the situation? Do you think thoughts that I thought, like why is this happening to me? This is so unfair.

Do you blame the brain that you can no longer rely on? My brain was my identity, and when I lost the capacity to work and think like I did before, I was so angry at it and fed it crappy food instead of everything it really needed from me.

How much do you blame the incident that caused you to sustain a concussion? The accident that happened to me, didn’t feel like it happened to me. I felt guilty. I felt I should’ve avoided it. I was so angry at myself and the fact that I let it happen.

Blaming others

Do you sometimes, or oftentimes, blame your loved ones who – no matter how hard they try – just don’t seem to understand? I isolated myself from loved ones, and convinced myself that I felt so alone. I felt alone, but the more I thought I felt alone, the more I created it, too, and I got more and more isolated.

Do you find yourself blaming the doctors who essentially tell you to go home time after time? During my recovery, I was prone to anger and at times, even rage. One example of when I felt it coming over me, was during a visit to a neurologist, who acted as the embodiment of patronization by implicitly disregarding the physical origin of my symptoms stating that I, as of yet, still experienced symptoms because I failed to incorporate my ‘lessons’… I only expressed the rage when I was home alone, so nobody else got hurt that day.

Feeling desperate after sustaining a concussion

[05:42 Melanie] Oh, I know, there is so much and there are so many people to blame. Because why is nobody helping me? This is despair. I know it well. And I expect you may know it, too. It’s an emotion that’s all too human.

Despair is rooted in hopelessness

Did you see how quickly I got to despair and the conviction that nobody is helping me, at all? From a deep rooted sense of injustice and life being unfair I went to blaming and lashing out, and from there, the road to despair was only short. 

Do you know the attitude that underlies and drives that spiral? It’s a sense and attitude of hopelessness – which was default during the first 2 years of my recovery, so please don’t mistake my honest reflection for blame: this is a safe space where we discuss the depth of our emotions. 

If you want to find out how come hope is an attitude, and how you yourself can change from a state of hopelessness to a state of hope and control, have a listen to episode #11 on post-concussion hope of season 1. 

Treasure the people who love you

Bloom where you are planted. Don’t curse what you already have. If we curse what we already have, we throw away the very things or people that will help us get out of this situation. They are our springboard. And I know you know this in your heart. 

Breaking the blame cycle

[07:25 Melanie] So, how to move forward? If you are like me and recognize all of the above, the thing that will set you free from the cycle of blaming and not moving forward in your recovery, is acceptance. No, not of the situation. Set your goal, aim high – please refer to the season 1 episode about hope again, because cultivating hope has to do with goal setting too. 

Acceptance is key

But acceptance is key – acceptance of the fact that you are here, in this situation that is far from perfect. And – maybe most and hardest of all 

  • – part 1 – that you want to be thankful for what and who you already have in your life. Because, and I don’t say this so often because your situation is real and it’s to be taken serious, but here it comes: whatever the situation, it could truly almost always be worse;
  • and – part 2 – make it your resolve to do what it takes to get out of here – you want to bloom where you are planted. Stop cursing what you already have and accept that where you are is messy, but you’re going to work with what you have, develop better tools as you move forward, and will bloom where you’re planted. This dump will be the foundation on which you built your most beautiful life, the weeds will become your compost and the manure will be your fertilizer. 

Always choose hope

If I could change one thing in my post concussion recovery process, it would’ve been to never lose hope. It truly cost me years. Don’t let it be this way for you. You are in charge of hope. Accept that where you are is not perfect. Embrace and love what you do have. Resolve to bloom where you’re planted, take the weeds and turn it into compost, and you will flourish. This is the mindset to succeed. This is how you can build resilience after sustaining a concussion.

Season 2 of Concussion Stories

[09:41 Melanie] With that, let’s kick off the new season. In season 1, episodes could get quite long, and season 2 will feature shorter episodes of about 10 to 15 minutes each, to make them easier and lighter to digest. In this second season, you will meet cutting-edge practitioners and researchers I recorded at the global conference on brain injury in Dublin at the end beginning of 2023. And of course, we’ve got many interviews lined up! 

Repeating my intention for the podcast

Starting out with the Concussion Stories podcast 2 years ago, my focus for every episode has been to offer 2 things:

  1. recognition – by holding space for compassion for all the hard – and often unspoken – things, we realize that none of us is alone in this
  2. hope & positivity – by sharing insights, hopeful stories and new perspectives

At the start of this new season, I repeat those intentions as I say them out loud right now – may the episodes that follow help you. I’m sending you love and strength.

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