Brown reflects on paranoid period
Mike Brown admits the darker moments of his recovery from concussion included paranoia induced by his fear that team-mates might suspect he was "faking it".
England's full-back was knocked unconscious against Italy in the RBS 6 Nations in February but, having returned for the final two games against Scotland and France, they were to be his final matches of the season.
Concern grew as he struggled to recover from repeated headaches that caused moderate pain yet refused to lift, and he was told by his club Harlequins to rest at home until it became evident his season was over.
Now restored to full health and having spent the last two weeks toiling at Pennyhill Park during phase one of the squad's World Cup training camp without symptoms of concussion resurfacing, he is able to reflect on a time when he feared for his career.
"You get paranoid - are the coaches and players thinking I'm faking it? I got told to go home for a week and maybe pop in," Brown said.
"When I came in and saw the lads training hard and looking over at me, I was thinking, 'They think I'm faking it. They think I'm saving myself for the World Cup'. You start feeling paranoid."
"You have days when you worry and days when you sort of snap out of it. It's hard when it's not an injury where you have a start and an end - it's just open-ended - and you just have to wait.
"You just sit there not doing anything and you think about it even more, which doesn't help.
"I was stuck at home, annoying the missus, feeling sorry for myself. She had me doing chores and things like that.
"It's hard when everyone's saying 'Oh don't think about your head', but you're sat there and you've got nothing else to think about but the reason why you're sat there.
"I spent some time thinking about life after rugby - and I'm still not sure what I'm going to do!"
Brown will travel to Denver with the World Cup training squad, which will be reduced from 50 players to 45 on Friday morning, that is set to depart for their two-week camp at altitude on Saturday.
Colorado will offer the first opportunity for the 29-year-old to experience contact since the rollercoaster victory over France as England plan to play inter-squad matches.
The two-month lay-off has not become without its benefits, however.
"This is the longest break I've had since I was 18 and is the first time I've come into pre-season with no niggles," Brown said.
"I'm not paid to sit on my backside, but it was clear I needed to recover. You can't push on with things like that.
"It was obviously my body trying to tell me something. You can't keep pushing with your head. It was about letting it recover.
"It's still quite hard as rugby is a macho sport. As men, you don't really talk about things like that. You stick to your own thoughts. I just wanted to get back out there."
:: Mike Brown was appearing alongside his England team-mates at the launch of the innovative England World Cup shirt #CommittedtoEngland. Visit Canterbury.com.