Living with a brain injury means a lot of things can change.
Conversations change. Relationships change. Your thoughts about yourself may change.
Living with a brain injury often involves having to constantly express how difficult it is to function while being expected to keep up with everyday interactions. It’s saying “this is too much for me” in a noisy room, then being asked “why are you so irritated?” when you’re overstimulated.
Living with a brain injury can mean becoming frustrated with yourself over simple things that become hard to process. It’s not being able to count your cards playing blackjack or strategize during a game while others impatiently wait for you to catch up.
Living with a brain injury can mean feeling embarrassed when you repeat something you said five minutes ago, or forget full conversations that happened last week. It’s not remembering the words you want to say, and then hearing the “I have such a bad memory too” response.
Living with a brain injury can mean always running late, or driving one place and ending up in another, forgetting how you got there. It’s the terrifying thought of “I don’t remember any of that” when it’s been 20 minutes.
Living with a brain injury can mean being expected to be “better” and not meeting expectations. It’s remembering people get sick of hearing that you’re sick, and getting tired of hearing the “still?” response.
Living with a brain injury can mean hearing constant jokes minimizing your experiences. It’s hearing “at least you meet new people every day!” and “you’re like Lucy in ’50 First Dates!’” over and over.
Living with a brain injury can mean explaining your brain injury, but never fully articulating what it’s like to not be the same person anymore. It’s grieving the loss of who you were before while being reminded of it every day.
If you know someone with a brain injury, be patient. Just like you have to adjust to the new normal, we do too. I promise we’re trying.
Living with a brain injury is struggling through every interaction while choosing to have hope that things will get better. It’s being embarrassed, frustrated and overwhelmed, and deciding to show up anyway.