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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Greenway

Running towards the danger

My body has been telling me things, and I’m finally starting to listen. Telling may be an understatement; my body has been screaming at me. 

When I sustained a concussion in early January, I immediately thought that I should lie in a dark room for a few weeks – away from screens, flashing lights and noise, standard concussion protocol. I tried my best to limit those things, but as an editor, extended time off wasn’t really an option. 

So I had to learn to adapt, packing my good days with writing and my not-so-good days with interviews. Bad days were a write-off, so I had to find ways to balance out my work schedule. Fortunately, the team here at the Low Down is a “team” in the true sense of the word.

Yet, complicating my recovery was past trauma. During the onset of the pandemic, like many of us, I went through a very dark period. I was numbing myself with antidepressants and getting through severe anxiety fits by swallowing benzos – highly addictive sedatives. The most crippling part of this anxiety was chronic heart palpitations – sometimes as often as every 30 seconds. On bad days, I was having close to 3,000 heart palpitations a day – a consuming and crippling condition. 

Through meditation, therapy and exercise, I was able to manage this anxiety instead of masking it with pills. I weaned myself off medication and haven’t taken any pills in over two years. 

But when I sustained my concussion this year, all of that trauma came back. Because I couldn’t exercise -– a short walk would leave me dizzy and give me a headache – this crippling condition came back with a vengeance. My heart palpitations were coming every couple of minutes – waking me up at night and consuming my life again. I was scared. I couldn’t sleep; I couldn’t eat; and I couldn’t manage simple daily tasks like making my kids’ lunches or deciding on what to make for dinner. 

Things got so bad that recently I found myself on the floor of the bathroom, in tears, feeling hopeless and helpless. But the last thing I wanted to do was take more benzos. 

So, I started reading – reading about concussions and how head trauma can trigger mental health issues from the past. Aha! 

Canadian actress Sarah Polley has documented her concussion recovery in her 2022 book, “Run Towards the Danger”, and in it she talks about how lying in a dark room didn’t help. She wrote: “In order for my brain to recover, I had to retrain it by charging towards the very activities that triggered my symptoms.” 

My doctor told me the same: to exercise until I’m dizzy or have a headache and then stop. And to keep trying to push it further. 

While the first few days of exercise were hell and lasted only five minutes, they slowly increased. Over the next few weeks, I began to push myself harder and harder – each workout session ending in a flood of joyous and emotional tears. 

I’m now up to 45 minutes of exercise and feeling great. I recently refereed a couple of beer league hockey games, and I’m slowly getting back to me. 

Everyone will have a different recovery. I need to be active; I need to move and treat my body well. And I need to listen. But the thing that really helped was to run towards the danger, as Polley did.   


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