To date, I’ve counted 10 consciousness-altering impacts to my head, as well as rotational and acceleration/deceleration scenarios, and those are only the ones I specifically remember. There were probably many, many more — because I used to play sports in order to hit my head. The “brain silence” that came immediately after the impact, followed by the mad rush of energy, made me feel like myself again. It quieted the noise around me, and it also gave me energy and focus that I didn’t have under regular conditions. Getting concussed wasn’t a bad thing for me. It was a welcome break from the distractions and confusions of the world around me, and I sought it out regularly.
Now, I never played football on an organized team, so I didn’t have that constant slamming in one practice after another. That gives me some comfort, because it’s not like I had hundreds and thousands of subconcussive hits over the years. But I had plenty — even more than most people can guess.
The other thing worth mentioning is that I used to be a head-banger. This started when I was a little kid. I remember my mother coming into my room, when I was young and stopping me from hitting my head against the wall. She probably heard the impact on the other side of the house, I hit it so hard. I’m not sure why I did it, but I can tell you that it always made me feel better. There was something about the banging that made all the noise get quiet. And I would keep banging until I could feel myself get hurt… and that post-impact silence would set in… followed by the rush of energy (which may have come from the neurometabolic cascade that happens after concussion – if you haven’t read the paper, I highly recommend it (click here for free access) — it’s a lot of science, but you can certainly pick some things up).
Anyway, the last time I banged my head was around 2010. I was incredibly stressed out by my living situation. My spouse was having a lot of health issues, and I was alone in dealing with them. I didn’t dare tell anyone about them, because they’re a public figure and if others knew the details, it could wreck their reputation, as well as their ability to do their own work in the world. So, I was alone. And stressed. And at the end of my rope.
So, I banged my head. The crazy stopped, the silence set in… followed by the biochemical magic that follows a consciousness-altering impact. And I immediately started to feel better.
Then I remembered what concussion does to you, and I remembers what it had done to me and my life.
I haven’t banged my head since. And that’s a good thing.
Of course, I can’t help but wonder if this is going to screw me up in the future… dementia and all that. But I can’t worry about it. I just need to keep moving forward, keep my focus on being of help and service to others. Nothing else works for me.
And certainly, banging my head doesn’t work for me. I can’t necessarily control it happening to me ever again by accident.
But I’m certainly not going to do it on purpose.