David Grant wrote a piece for his Brainline.org blog today on talking to others about your brain injury. What and how much do you say, he asks, so people won’t back away? There is a stigma attached to brain injury. No one really wants to say, “I have a brain injury.”
I lived with a brain injury I didn’t know I had for so long and I was miserable. Twenty-seven years later, when I found out what was wrong with me had a name, I was overjoyed! I could have shouted it from the rooftops! “I’m not crazy, I’m just brain injured,” I told my friends.
It took another decade to learn what it meant to live with a TBI, a decade in which I also went back to school to study communication sciences and disorders. I have to admit that for most of that time I seldom said “I have a brain injury” and I really thought it was something in my past. Sure, I had some physical issues and I took medications, but no one saw that. I kept on searching for a cure.
Slowly but surely, I learned that brain injury is something you live with for the rest of your life. Some of my emotional and executive dysfunctional residuals, life-long consequences, were and are still haunting me. Speech-language pathologists who supervised me during practicums kindly pointed them out. Nevertheless, I was shocked.
By the time that I finished graduate school, I was becoming so comfortable with the subject that I had to write a book about the history of my brain injury and the history of brain injury awareness. My book, Not What I Expected: My Life with a Brian Injury (I Didn’t Know I Had), is a “tell all” — I blurted out all of the crazy brain injured things I have done. It was indeed a catharsis to get it all out on paper and I feel so much better! Actually, I think my attitude is transformed!
Maybe I told more than I should have, but I’m no longer squeamish about saying I live with residuals from brain injury. At last, I feel that my brain-injured life has a purpose, and that is to talk and write about brain injury so that professionals will gain insight, people with brain injury will see that they can live meaningfully again, and everyone will be more comfortable talking about their amazing brain.
David has come to something like this conclusion, too. He is receiving feedback on his Brainline.org posts that encourage him in his mission to spread brain injury awareness.