The Missing Link Between Concussions & Mental Health

Jonathan Dawe

Growing up, I had it all. I came from a great family, had a solid group of friends, and excelled in both school and in sport. Finishing high school, I seamlessly transitioned to university and was having a blast playing junior hockey. 

But around the age of 20, things started to change.

I slowly started to lose motivation, had trouble sleeping, and preferred being alone. Within a few short months found myself quitting hockey, leaving university, and drinking almost every day. 

I felt completely lost and didn’t know how to explain it. I didn’t want to let on to anyone else that I was struggling, so I just made up excuses. However, it got to the point where it was obvious and luckily my family stepped in. 

With the help of my parents, I began to look for answers. I saw multiple family doctors, naturopaths, therapists, psychiatrists, and even saw a hypnotist at one point. 

They all pretty much said the same thing – take this medication and do this exercise. If that doesn’t work, take more medication. It constant cycle of high hopes and expectations, only to be disappointed. 

About two years in making no progress, I found out (through bloodwork) that I had a severe testosterone deficiency. The doctor at the time said it must have been a mistake, but it raised a red flag and I asked to take the test again. 

Sure enough, the second test came back with the same results. The normal range for testosterone was between 10-27, and mine was 0. With this information and my doctor’s referrals, I started searching for specialists to address this issue. 

The first couple of endocrinologists I saw wouldn’t help me.  They accused me of taking steroids (due to my physical appearance) and thought that I was trying to abuse their power. Meanwhile, I just worked out and played sports my whole life. 

This was incredibly frustrating. At this point, I was thinking about suicide regularly and felt completely hopeless. However, my parents and I wouldn’t give up – and asked for one more referral. 

That’s when I met Doctor Komer. 

When I walked into his office, the first question he asked me was if I played sports. I was a little thrown off but answered yes. He then asked me if I had any concussions – I told him I had several.

Komer began to explain how optimal testosterone and hormone levels are absolutely critical for our overall health and well being. He also told me that my testosterone deficiency was likely the reason why I was mentally sick.

He then determined that the inflammation in my brain caused by concussions I had playing hockey led to the dysfunction of my pituitary gland (the part of your brain responsible for hormone production). He said that was the reason my body wasn’t producing it. But then he gave me the best news ever… That it could be fixed!! 

Doc then put me on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and wrote me a prescription. I started injections literally that day. 

Within 4 weeks, there was a night and day difference. I was motivated, happy, and felt like my old self. Within a few months, I was off all antidepressant medication and decided to go back to school to finish my economics degree. 

Unfortunately during that time, 4 friends I played hockey with committed suicide. Although I would never know for sure if they went through the same thing I did, I thought that sharing my story might help someone else

I wrote this Facebook post outlining my experience and put it out to the world. To my surprise, it had over 3500 organic shares and messages from people all over the world started pouring in. 

From that post alone, I’ve had thousands of conversations with complete strangers about the impact of concussions on mental health. It’s been incredibly rewarding pointing people in the right direction and bringing awareness to an issue that surprisingly impacted so many. 

It’s been 4 years now since finding treatment and can without a doubt say that I have my life back. However, I know from experience that we have nothing without a healthy brain, and have come to realize that it will always be an ongoing battle to keep my mind where it needs to be.

This has led me to become passionate about finding ways to optimize my own physical and mental health. I’ve also learned that when we take care of ourselves, it brings out the best of us in all areas of our lives. 

Inspired by my experience and fueled by my newfound passion for self-development, I wanted to create a company that empowered people to prioritize and level up their own mental health. 

This led me to create the brand HEAD1ST. In doing so, not only could I help others avoid what I went through, but help them maximize their human potential.

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