May 2nd, 2013 is a significant date for me: six years ago on that day, I fell and hit my head at the gym, and so began my acquaintance with concussion.
I’ve learned that our brains hold on to significant dates—some benign, like birthdays, and some painful, like the date we lost a loved one or were seriously injured. As we approach the anniversary of our injury or loss, we may feel a strong sense of dread and vulnerability or experience painful flashbacks to the event. It is a date most of us would like to forget.
Some years ago, I decided that, instead of suffering through each successive return of what I called my “accidentaversary” on May 2nd, I would use that day to celebrate some joyful aspect of being alive. One year, I had professional photos taken of me in natural surroundings to affirm my continued presence in, and love for, the world. Another year, I treated myself to a massage; on last year’s accidentaversary, I committed to writing a book about what it’s like to heal from a concussion. That book is now complete and about to be published.
As much as possible, I try to honour this date as one of spiritual reflection and renewal and not schedule too much work then. For me, it has been a healing ritual to mark each return of the date with gratitude rather than dread.
On this May 2nd, I completed a four-day course on neurorehabilitation after brain injury offered through Brock University and the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia, who generously funded my attendance. I met many others, like me, who had to rebuild their lives and identities following their injury. I loved being a student again – after twenty years of being a teacher, it’s nice to let others do the PowerPointing! – and learned a great deal about the brain and its incredible capacity to heal. What better way to celebrate my brain’s return to health in a wonderful community of others who know that journey well?
If you have a date that brings you dread, consider changing it into a day of reflection, one that holds meaning and comfort for your hurting self.
How will you transform your own accidentaversary?