StirlingMy name is Ravenna, and I am a concussion victim. After getting knocked out pre-game, I have become an initiate into a group of students who are far more numerable than openly perceived, although at the start of my recovery, I felt very much alone.

My teachers and doctors and coaches epitomized support as they helped me through the process of healing my brain. They provided instruction that enabled me to continue my school work and carry on as if my brain had not been shaken; however, it was not sufficient. Their guidance answered all questions but the most crucial: How will I ever reclaim my clarity of mind?

My concussion hurt more than my mental ability. When I was knocked down, all those scooping arms failed to help me recover the fraction of my identity that was lost in the process.

My most recent concussion occurred right before the game. I wasn’t even fully dressed for the last volleyball game I would ever play when I was struck down. A player on my team set a ball for herself and hit it into a crowd of us — before we were supposed to start practicing. Talking with the team on the court, a ball flew towards us and ended my career in athletics.

I woke up lying on the gym floor, crying tears I wasn’t even aware of until I remembered what had happened. My eyesight came and went. The throbbing in my head was so painful I feared I would never be the same. The fluorescent lights burned my eyes and intensified the pain. The unyielding dizziness impaired my ability to walk.

As I was carried into the hospital, I feared for more than my chances of returning to sports. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t think straight. I no longer wished to play; all I wanted was to feel normal again. This happened over a year ago, and the symptoms remained for close to a year.

If only I had known the true extent of the injury. All the brain scans and blood tests proved futile in a healing process of which many are unaware. It was only when I found someone who had suffered a similar experience that I began to feel better.

What no one warns you about is the toll the concussion takes on your confidence.

You begin to question whether you can rely on your mental ability. The brain function feels sluggish, almost like a lagging computer, as you attempt to carry out rudimentary tasks. Your doctor promises recovery, and yet you can’t seem to remember what you ate for breakfast. The day when someone was able to relate to my experience was the day I found the courage to continue to fight this unforeseen battle. They gave me comfort as they assured me that they faced similar challenges. We could relate in the way that neither of us felt the same since the incident. It was with this knowledge that I was able to move past my concussion.

Concussions hurt in more ways than one can communicate. The recovery is a tumultuous marathon, a seemingly infinite process that engulfs the lives of those affected. It is a great test of one’s patience. An outsider may predict the greatest triumph of this process to be a clean bill of health: the day when the doctor makes the grandiose announcement that you are healed, that all has been fixed.

For those in the patient’s chair, this is not reassuring. In fact, that day may be one of a horrific revelation as you realize that no one understands. You may come even to question your sanity, because the doctors have it all wrong. You are not all right.

The sweetest moment is when you know that what you feel is normal. No matter how shaken you feel, how different your personality has come to be, it is essential that you know that this is not the end. One day, you will feel better and renew your confidence; however until that day comes, it is the greatest triumph to know that you are not alone.

Ravenna Sterling will be a senior at Wilsonville High School in the fall. She submitted this column as part of her application to be a student columnist during the 2014-15 school year.

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