Dear Teen with Post-Concussion Syndrome

Post-Concussion Syndrome is a concussion that does not heal within three months after the initial injury, some concussion symptoms are still present a year later or more, with a large majority of patients having more than one concussion preceding their diagnosis of PCS.  School districts don’t know how to handle the PCS student. Teachers don’t understand how far the long-term consequences of a simple hit in the head can go. Not everyone who sustains a concussion ends up with Post-Concussion Syndrome, but for those who do it’s traumatizing and anxiety inducing. The effects of PCS can have drastic consequences on any bodily system or mental functioning, depending on where scarring happens in the brain. This letter is specifically for the teen with Post Concussion Syndrome.

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I see you fighting.

I see you struggling.

But I know you can do this!

I need to tell you something. You are strong, stronger than you realize. I know loved ones have already told you that, and you should listen to them. It’s the truth. At a time when most teens only worry about grades, crushes, the newest drama, and other things that don’t truly matter, you are fighting something they could never begin to understand. That makes you a badass.

I know you were told that you would heal in a week, and now that feels like a lie. I know sometimes it feels as if doctors dismiss your pain, or worse yet, dismiss you. I know it seems like you’ll have a headache for the rest of your life, or that you’ll be forced to wear sunglasses forever, or you’ll always be dizzy. But I promise you, you will heal. This is not your forever.

I see how hard you fight. I see you stand there while people accuse you of faking it. I see you sit in class when a teacher refuses to follow your personalized education plan because one time they had a concussion and it only lasted a week. I see you deal with friends getting pissed off at your personality changes. I see you getting frustrated with your personality changes. I see you standing there while old people tell you to take off your sunglasses, then snap at you for being rude, and I see the tear behind those glasses when it happens. But you know what? Screw them! You are stronger than they could ever know. You are stronger than they could ever be. Your strength is why you are my hero.

I can feel your guilt. I know you are keenly aware of the medical bills and the never-ending litany of doctor’s appointments your parents miss work for. I promise you; your parents love you more than anything else in this world. They will get you the care you need, because you are everything to them. They will do whatever it takes to get you from specialist to specialist, paying for every experimental therapy possible. Why? Because you are worth it. Read that again…. You are worth it!

I see you falling to pieces. Allow yourself those moments. Lean into them. They are real. They are raw. But don’t live in that place forever.

Don’t let the negative emotions lead you into doing something to harm yourself. If you feel like you want to hurt yourself, please talk to someone; your parents, or a doctor. If you feel like you don’t want to fight anymore, that you don’t want to live, call 1-800-273-8255, please.

You HAVE to heal, and you WILL heal. Do you know why you will heal? Because the world needs you.

Through this experience you are learning some things that will make you stronger, more compassionate, and more aware. You will gain a sense of empathy that will help you navigate life in a way the world has forgotten, through love and understanding. You will be able to look past the tough exteriors people wear and see their struggles. You will understand that when people lash out, there is something big going on in their life. Maybe it’s even too much for them to handle, and this is something you truly understand first hand.  Someday you will help someone else, maybe in a way you have been helped.

Every headache, every painful physical therapy session, every rude comment endured, every doctor shaking their head in bewilderment has led you to a point of awareness that the rest of us can’t even begin to imagine. All of this will work for you. Through the headaches you will learn how much you can handle. Through physical therapy you will regain your balance. With every rude comment you will learn how much weight a word can hold. You will use them to build others up instead of tearing them down, the way you have been torn down. Through doctor’s appointments that are frustrating you will learn to advocate for yourself.

Please remember:

You have anger, but anger is not the end of the road.

You have anxiety, but anxiety doesn’t own you.

You’ve been let down by the people around you, but they do not define you.

You will get to the other side of this…

Just keep going!

 

With Love,
Abigail Wild