Four years ago during August of 2011, everything was starting to come together for me as a teenage professional surfer. I had just recently made the USA travel team and was fresh off the plane from a trip to Tahiti where I would have been headed into the start of a breakthrough year.
After weeks in the powerful surf of the South Pacific, I was very excited to be surfing the barreling wave at Point Mugu for the NVBC Point Mugu Surf Contest in Ventura, even though I had just gotten off the plane a day before! I did great through the early rounds of the event and scored around an 8-point ride on just my first wave of the finals, but it was on the second wave that my whole life changed!
What happened is that I was pulled into a clean barrel on the outside, but as I went for a snap on the inside, the water bottomed me out at the shore to where I was projected head first into the sand were I sustained my TBI at the age of 16. As a result, I was honestly puking nothing besides sand and It felt like it was up in my brain. I just kept blowing it out constantly, but it felt like it was not ever going to stop honestly!
All that I remember from that second, was just a little from the wave then straight to when I got up after the fall. Some of the effects would be that in the middle of the night when I would try to go to the restroom, my dad would find me collapsed on the bathroom floor. I honestly became severely depressed after all this happened. There were friends of mine that would mention, how talking to me was like talking to a rock, so I actually no longer wanted to live since I was not really there because I was a different person then before and I was not happy with the new me. I also had no emotion at all, I was mean and on top of that I would cry for no reason.
I finally got to see doctors and they mentioned how after about 12 concussions, you have been here too many times. The next time you come in, it’s going to be a brain bleed and you’re going to possibly die! After this deep talk, I started to get serious about my recovery. For a full year, I did not surf, I did not go to school, and she did not work because ALL that I did was giving my brain exactly what it needed to help heal, which was resting even though I thought it was horribly boring.
Resting helped me began to turn my thinking around and help me being fighting my depression, but It’s kind of scary how you get to such a low point that you don’t even realize how depressed you are along with everything around you turning negative. What helped me was how one of my friends Alex Grey, told me that I should always say hello to depression and then let it go with a blessing, so that way I will never let the dark beast win against me! Gray’s words honestly gave me a new outlook that helped me find my way through everything, for I finally realized how I could never really heal at all with a negative attitude.
I started the change by focusing on all of the blessings along with the road ahead, for whenever I would feel down I immediately would think about how grateful I was just to have a roof over her head, healthy food to eat, and most importantly a family who loves me! My main goal that daily motivated me was to honestly to surf again and it helped take care of my body, resting and eating properly to help the healing process work correctly.
During my recovery, I began to cut out all processed foods, dairy, meat, and gluten and would only eat all natural, juiced every day, drank shots of turmeric, ginger, and lemon, and increased her intake of anti-inflammatory foods. The next step was that I replaced medicine with natural cures, for example, I scrapped my anti-nausea medicine in favor of apple cider vinegar and honey, which started acupuncture because food is our medicine!
Food is what healed me and got me on the path to recovery, not the medications! After a 4- year struggle, I can honestly say that I am back by the age of 20! I began surfing (cautiously) 6 months ago, working again, I took tests to finish my high school education and my favorite was writing a children’s book titled, Heads Up.
This book educates children about concussions, healing, and most importantly about acceptance, which is something that I have struggled with for 3 years. I wished I could have gone back and not surfed that contest, but now I finally can say that I wouldn’t go back and change a thing!
As much as I wanted to live the pro surfer lifestyle, that was such a big dream for me ever since I was a little girl, I honestly would not take back what’s happened to me. I truthfully found that my new path is incredibly rewarding! Since my article in the Seventeen Magazine I had girls reaching out to me from all over the world sharing their struggles with concussions and injuries that truly helped me be able to live my new dream of offering words of encouragement, sympathy, and support.
I want anyone struggling with concussions and injuries to not ever give up, actually have hope by looking at the long-run in stead of the short term, set your goals and do what you need to get there, love your body, take care of yourself and most importantly protect your head and your brain!
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