March is Brain Injury Awareness month. Brain injuries are becoming more known because of the NFL, but we are still just tapping the iceberg.
1. You won’t be able to tell someone has a brain injury. Right after my accident, you could tell something was wrong. My eyes weren’t focusing. I wasn’t moving my right hand at all. Now, through, I still have a brain injury, but I look “normal”. If you didn’t know my story, and I simply met you on the street, you would have no idea the year I’ve had. It’s an invisible bruise.
“I live by my systems. I have to have a schedule or I am lost….Also, just because I look OK doesn’t mean anything. I have worked for years to get where I am now.” — Nancy Davis
2. People with a brain injury are not stupid, they simply process information differently and slowly. Everyone pictures a person with a brain injury as someone in a wheelchair drooling. This is often not the case. I know people who were civil engineers before their accident. Their TBI affected some of the way they did things, but they can still do what they did in some capacity. I know for me, I used to be able to look at something and remember/recognize it. But now, it takes a couple of times of reading it to maybe remember it. That is no way means I’m less smart than I was, it just looks different. Also, if someone asks me question after question, my brain gets overwhelmed and shuts down. People need to ask me one question and give me time to process the question before I can give an eloquent answer
“My brain takes different paths to understanding and explaining. It’s not a straight road, but one with detours.” — Keli Hanks
3. They aren’t lazy, they just need a lot more rest to function on a “normal” level.
I need to figure in more rest time now than I used to because without it, I hit a wall and am literally useless to anyone. You think about how much your brain is involved in. A while ago, my sister and I were out to lunch. I was quiet so she asked me what I was thinking. I said, “Drinking water.” There were no other thoughts in my head but the act of raising the cup to my lips and drinking the water. Your brain is involved in every act of every day. No wonder we are wiped out all the time.
“Remembering things is difficult. I’m not being lazy by only working a few hours a day or needing days off during a busy time — I just need more rest to function than you do… Changes take time for me to adjust to. What works for one person doesn’t always work for me.” — Sara Hill
4. A brain injury changes a person, not simply because it’s traumatic, but it changes the chemistry of the brain itself.
In a simple way, I used to be way more extroverted but now I’m a lot more introverted to the extent where I’ve had conversations with people only to discover that they went on solely in my head. I’ve also become significantly more OCD. I have to have everything just right, and it bothers me if one thing is out of place.
“My injury may be invisible, but my life has been turned upside down. I will never be the same again.” — Christina Chalgren
5. TBI individuals are some of the bravest people you will ever meet because they have survived something that was meant to destroy them.