On April 4, 2018, I scurried across a cracked, bumpy parking lot at the local high school. I had squeezed an errand in the middle of a busy day because my son’s lunch account needed money.
As I raced across the parking lot, for some odd reason I decided last minute to lift my phone to take a picture. At that moment, my foot landed in a fractured piece of asphalt. The action launched me into a spin, and as I rolled to the ground, I smacked my head against an old steel bumper of a parked truck. I landed on my side, sprawled on the asphalt, my left arm propping me up at an awkward angle.
I blinked. It was all I could do.
“Are you all right?” A girl’s voice came from somewhere close, but my brain . . . was empty. I knew I was supposed to respond, but I could not form speech. I stayed crumpled, blinking, unable to move my body or even to lift myself off my arm. On some primitive level, I recognized there was supposed to be interaction between the girl and me, but my brain could not come up with any physical or verbal response.
Her kind voice came again. “Are you all right?”
Still on the ground, I tried to trigger movement of any kind. Again, I knew that I was supposed to respond to her vocal prompt, but nothing would move, nothing would come. My entire form felt devoid of any kind of processing ability.
The stranger asked me one more time, not knowing she was keeping me from slipping into unconsciousness. And finally, I had enough ability to shove the oppressive, dazed feeling aside a bit. I slightly turned my head in her direction, my body still splayed out, immovable, on the dirty parking lot. I now could see a blond high school student with a cherubic face.
I knew I needed to say something. I felt a distant presence help my mind to stir. I don’t remember what I said to her. I do know at some point she told me her name was Abby.
This event introduced me to the world of concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI). It also set me up for a series of additional concussions in the next two years because of vestibular balance issues and falls caused by the April 2018 injury. My very desperate search for courage after these incidents led me to find answers to this question: How does one stay hopeful and resilient when facing tough recoveries? I wanted to know.
For me, it took nearly two months before I could stand and talk simultaneously. In fact, for that first month, I could not stand for more than 30 seconds without some form of support. And yet, almost overlooked, blessings began to flood my situation, blessings that subtly sustained me, blessings that easily could have been invisible. Through the muck of that initial confusion and eventual mourning at my reduced state, I did begin to notice a sacred sense that accompanied me continually during the weeks-long state of recovery. During that time, I intimately learned more than I’d ever experienced before from God’s strong bond to His children in their trials. For me, I’m not sure I could have discovered this without experiencing this life-altering event.
The world of serious concussions is a murky, difficult one. It took me weeks to stand easily, months to return to quick brain responses, and nearly a year to gain back the ability to focus for hours on end, especially when digital screens were involved. Writing still sometimes challenges me. And, yet with all of that, I am a better person. I am more aware of suffering, of what it’s like not to rebound quickly after an injury, and what it’s like to have strangers look at me like I’m stupid because my responses, at times, have been slower than they liked during the rebuilding of my abilities. I’m now on a mission to help share information that I’ve gained because of my wrestle with resilience; oh, how I want to make a difference for those who feel lost or scared or overwhelmed because of their challenges!
Little did I know when I’d been working towards my master’s degree, five years prior to that head injury in 2018, that my studies about transformation from trauma into empowerment would benefit me later after my accident. What I discovered through those resilience studies can benefit more than just me. I would be selfish not to share. I know it. And so now I am on a mission to help others with resilience research so that you can help your loved ones who may be struggling through any kind of a physical or otherwise challenge.
During hard times, it seems like those difficulties will never let up. And yet, all mortal experiences are temporary. What we can learn from them can be eternal. Additionally, as we all prepare for the Savior’s coming, we know as a people of God we’ll need strength. This column will bring you research on resilience, what resilience looks like, and actual hands-on activities that can build internal fortitude and happiness for all of God’s children, not just for concussion survivors.
That devastating accident of mine in April 2018 may have introduced me to the world of concussions more deeply than I would have chosen, but it also brought a gift—a gift of understanding that God is there in our sorrows more than we might know. My own difficulties have fueled me with a deeper desire to serve those who are troubled and struggling. So, with your companionship, we can journey on this path together.
I will share activities that can help us through the challenges that await us in these last days. Some will include free, downloadable activities; all will include an invitation to come celebrate our successes, small or big, at the Cindy’s 30 Days to Done Facebook group. I’d love for you to join. Share with me your triumphs. What has helped you through your deepest difficulties? Do you have a scripture that strengthened you during a rough experience? How have you built resilience and tenacity during really tough times? I’d love to hear and maybe feature you in a future article!
Cindy Sue Bezas, M.S., is a mindset trainer, author, and speaker who passionately believes all people are capable of great things. She obtained her master’s degree in Adult/Organizational Learning & Leadership from the University of Idaho, and her specific research focused on trauma recovery and low self-image. She is a multi-concussion survivor and host of the Concussion: There Is Hope podcast, which ranked #33 in Mental Health iTunes podcasts in the United States. To subscribe to the podcast for helpful information on concussion research, please visit this link https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/concussion-there-is-hope/id1493243455.
To join her Facebook group, Cindy’s 30 Days to Done, click here https://www.facebook.com/groups/cindys30daystodone/ to celebrate small wins in fun ways, 30 days at a time. (If you are experiencing persistent, low mood symptoms, seek the advice of a board-certified mental health provider for assistance. We need you with us!)