Brain Injury is complicated because every brain is unique.
For many friends, family and acquaintances this quality makes your long-term illness slightly irrelevant to their brains. It isn’t irrelevant to you.
When I woke in a hospital bed after suffering my fall off a building, I didn’t specifically feel different. I was still the same person with odd thoughts influenced by Brain Injury while learning what was occurring around me. My initial after accident experiences and hospital administered drugs dominated my mind. My Brain was trying to comprehend a new world, as I experienced the Brain’s physical damage. The world around me didn’t change.
As months passed I recall my focus on ending a tunnel of recovery. There was light at the end of the tunnel with one way forward. During hospital recovery it was like this tunnel had illuminated lights fixed on the edges, with my focus moving forward.
Then I was cleared to work and the lights became dimmer, but I could still see the opening of light at the tunnel’s end. Then within 3 months after leaving hospital there was no particular doctor certificate administered for sickness or special unemployment care. The government social services decided that I was a normal unemployed person.
No tailored and required support was offered.
A side effect of Brain Injury is that the patient feels fine and at times, depending on their typical mental characteristics, they assume they don’t need help.
I want all patients to realise that help is required, be it small or big, and for doctors/hospital staff to think of this process to make a plan for recovery. I was released and everyone had done what the system required. The accident was over. Except for me.
To be honest, the minimal employment support given made the tunnel start to flood with a tiny space at the top to swim desperately, gasping for air. I started becoming desperate to find work, as I wasn’t considered disabled – yes, despite falling 15 metres onto concrete. Again, the system decided no support was required. You should have seen the nurses rush on my bed to service a new patient when I was leaving hospital, ‘He’s gone, YES!!!!!, new bed to make and treat another patient as best the system says we should!’
Then the tunnel lights went out. I lost all support. I still saw light at the end of the dark tunnel, but no help existed to find my way – electricity was cut, severed, irreparable.
This lonesome part of the journey took a longer time than I expected. After learning more, I realised that my time was fast compared to many others.
I grew during the experiences but outsiders often abused me like that was the only way they could offer support. I was treated as though any issue caused from Brain Injury was my fault – yelling would solve it. These issues were finite when I think of my personal struggle but still catastrophic, particularly in the workplace environments I found myself in.
Workplace abuse was the worst. I was not considered disabled and my issues were tiny but constant. I appeared as a normal person perfectly positioned for abuse on the one in 20 tasks I didn’t complete perfectly.
I was a normal dumb idiot in the way of people’s own daily obstacle course to get through life as I saw them making their own mistakes constantly. I traded my past compassionate self for a man who had to deal with trauma and survive it.
In amongst this trauma I was still myself, but hidden in a survival mode trying to handle the abuse my Brain could not during the continued recovery.
What did people who knew do to help?
They abused me or stayed quiet because they had no power in the workplaces I found myself in. The occasional offer of help did exist, but with time this reduced.
SCALING RECOVERY NEED VS. SUPPORT
There were few moments where people inquired if I was OK. Most focused heavily on my physical achievements.
How is your leg?
Some were always acquaintances where the initial friend request on Facebook and bothering while I was in hospital was the appropriate level of compassion. Patients should remember that this is normal and it doesn’t reflect you in any way. We can’t be best friends with everyone.
Part of the journey was a gigantic learning experience about social trauma. My apologies, but I was not told what to expect and how the external world’s judgement above compassion would impact my brain’s recovery. I learnt a lot of what true survival is. Needless to say some thought I complained too much about it. Kudos for helping me with your judgement.
After the process was completed I’m thankful. I am also less likely to care what people think about my world and I – it’s mine after all. People grab snippets to paint a picture of something about you. I hope others in mental illness recovery remember this, as mental damage on a scale of 1 – 10 has its universal intricacies owned by the sufferer. While loneliness occurs, please remember many out there are dealing with their own loneliness, trauma or mental condition.
You can do this! Just push through and I always say people should follow their passions where possible.
Use the period to learn and grow. Some people will stay, some will go and forever you’ll be you. The only difference is experience teaches you wisdom. Your identity may change due to a mental illness but that person inside remains you forever ❤
The old you, the new you, the in between you – it’s all you! ❤
Take care of yourself as no one else can be fully trusted with that important path.