During the Jaws Challenge in 2019, Jaws mainstay Albee Layer tried to knife into a 30-foot west bowl tube, only to get crushed by the lip at the bottom of the wave. It was one of the worst wipeouts ever he’s ever been dealt.
While Layer looked fine when he surfaced, he’d suffered a serious concussion. What followed was a subsequently long recovery process–a journey that’s becoming more and more common in the dangerous realm of big-wave surfing. Just today, in light of brain awareness month, Layer took to IG to give everyone an update on his past brain injury:
While Layer notes that the last three years have been a constant effort to heal from his injury, Layer admits he still deals with the effects of his 2019 wipeout.
“A lot of people have told me how stoked they are to see me back to normal since the concussion in 2019,” writes Layer. “I really appreciate that but the truth is I’m not and never will be whatever I considered normal before. It’s been over 3 years. I’ve been through lots of treatments, tried prescribed meds, meditating, therapy, fucken spirit quests you name it. I’m still a bit different. I can be shorter to anger (directed at myself), shorter to negative assumptions (very anxious), and even worse than I was at social interaction, which lead to a lot of self medicating that made things much worse.”
Layer has been seen charging Jaws this season, clocking into the most insane tubes your eyeballs have ever seen. “I did good at Jaws this last run not cause ‘I’m back’ but both because I was confident with my preparation, but also cause I had that ‘fuck it, nothing to lose’ attitude,” he writes. “Which isn’t sustainable. So I’m still finding a balance there.”
Despite the constant challenge of overcoming a TBI, Layer wants other surfers dealing with similar situations to know they’re not alone out there.
“I have come a very long way since the worst of it and spend most days happy and still driven,” he writes. “I appreciate the people close to me more than I ever have. I’m now trying to move forward with a much more sober and clear headed approach and it feels like my best decision yet. I talk to a lot of people with head injuries on here so for anybody on similar journey, the point is don’t let the lows consume you and be okay with changes. Just keep putting in effort. Nothings permanent.”
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