Every month, DrivenCT highlights one of our many community partners working to make a difference in the local area in which we work and live. Each of these organizations work with individuals who have inspiring stories of triumph that we want to share with you. This post was written by guest blogger Arleigha Cook, an intern and volunteer for the Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut. Here is her story:
It was during the game I scored two goals against college players as a high school senior when I knew I was ready for college soccer. That summer I was done with twice daily workout sessions with my trainer – done with focusing on the development of my speed, my running technique, and weight-lifting. My confidence was at an all-time high, and I was sure I was going to make a big impact on the field as the top recruit of my class.
What I wasn’t prepared for was my fourth concussion.
It occurred the same way my three others did: during a play where I defended another central midfielder. She kicked the ball to send it across the field, and it instead caused a direct hit to my forehead at point blank range.
This was the day that changed my life – Saturday, October 13, 2012. Since then, I have been through a roller coaster of recovery with symptoms such as thirty-hour debilitating headaches, depression, anxiety, inability to focus for more than a few minutes, inability to think of a deep level, dizziness, general mental fogginess, insomnia, loss of balance, and losing control of my eyes. I was in vestibular therapy for about a year to teach my body how to balance and my eyes how to focus.
My introduction to the Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut (BIAC) occurred during the first year of my recovery process. I was in a deep depression, not knowing how to proceed with life when I felt I had no purpose. However I attended BIAC’s celebratory event for survivors, the Walk for Thought, in November of 2013 and knew I had found a place where I was valued, and have stayed involved as a volunteer and intern ever since.
BIAC has provided many brain injury survivors and their caretakers in Connecticut with wonderful resources. The most important resource I have come away with is a renewed sense of purpose as a brain injury survivor. Because of BIAC’s support during my recovery process I am proud to co-preside over a support group on my college campus, speak publicly about my story, and volunteer at many of BIAC’s annual events, including their Valentine’s Day Dance, the annual conference, and the Walk for Thought.
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and that means a lot to me as a brain injury survivor. My appreciation extends to supporters like Hoffman Auto Group and their longterm dedication to BIAC.