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Overhearing “Brain Injury isn’t really a disability”

“Yes it fucking is!” is what I wanted to say, I was so angry and upset! But I didn’t and am regretting it so much now.

I’ve over reacted before when it comes to my brain injury. It was the first New Years Eve after my accident and I was at a party playing Cards Against Humanity. While reading one of the cards out all my words got mixed up and I was stuttering. Someone I’d never met before stated to mimic me and I snapped at him “If you knew why I had a speech impediment you wouldn’t be taking the piss”, everyone went quiet and just looked at me then started to say things like “You can’t say that!” “There’s no need for that!”

So as much as I meant what I had said to him, everyone made me feel like I shouldn’t have said anything. It worked out ok in the end, I told him about my injury and he apologised and said “If I’d have known I wouldn’t have said anything” Later that night we had a long conversation. I think, looking back it was a heart to heart.

However, over hearing “Brain injury isn’t really a disability” was like a punch to the face and gut at the same. Although, I do see where they’re coming from. Most people think disabilities are only visible—like if you’re in a wheelchair of missing limbs etc. Most people just don’t understand or know about hidden disabilities.

They were talking about the Paralympics and how impressed they were at people playing tennis without arms and things of that nature. Then someone said “Then they were interviewing people with brain injuries. I don’t see why they’re at the Paralympics!” and everyone agreed “They were talking about their preparation for the Paralympics, how hard it is to keep and organise a schedule” a few words I couldn’t quite hear and then… “Yeah, brain injury isn’t really a disability”

The worst part about this entire thing? I was sat next to them and it was at a friend’s birthday party. I’d met them once before so it might have been ok for me to say something. I think if I had it wouldn’t have been a civil conversation. I would have got upset and angry at them and wouldn’t be able to say what I thought clearly, so it would have been pointless. At the same time… Why on earth didn’t I say anything? I feel it’s my duty to spread awareness that it’s a hidden disability.

I’ve missed my chance now.

Just a few disabilities related to a brain injury:

  • Memory problems
  • Lack of reasoning, problem solving, decision making and judgement
  • Processing and understanding information
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Headaches and migraines

The list is endless… Especially when each accident, brain and person is different.

To end this, I’ll share this taken from the A-Z of Paralympic Sport Classifications on the Sport Paralympics BBC website:

12 thoughts on “Overhearing “Brain Injury isn’t really a disability”

  1. I believe you are using this “brain injury” as a defeat,I was in a coma for 3 months, had to relearn everything from scratch, nowhere have I ever used it as a reason ôf how I act or do things, you have to unfortunately grow up and move on,

    1. JF Dumont, good for you!!! But remember, not a single brain injury is the same as the next one, even when the diagnosis is the same. Maybe the part of the brain that controls emotions on you or your TBI was not as damaged as the next survivor. It is not about growing up, it’s about how your brain was affected by your TBI and how the TBI person feels. My son was diagnosed with diffused axonal injury. His injuries are all over his brain. Like you, he is relearning to do everything. Thus, I believe this blog is more like to educate people on the invisible scars of a TBI. I hope that my son, at one point, grows up just like you. Right now, only he knows what he is going through.

    2. Jf Dumont – I would suggest that your lack of empathy is due to you failing to realise that it is your Brain injury that makes you so blithely discount another person’s experience – My own injury happened 49 years ago and after a few years everyone thought I had made a “Miracle recovery” including my own family and yes Myself – however now ith experience and years of getting “Surprise” health problems and injuries and even depression and anxiety, neuropathic pain, hormonal problems and now find myself severely disabled – if you do fine LUCKY YOU
      BUT BEWARE OF BEING SO DISMISSIVE it could still bite you

      1. thank you, i do have a small fear that i keep hidden away to live fully my life when im still young. i think its causing me more harm stewing over it rather then just enjoying it..

        if anyone wants to talk to me on facebook its JF Dumont and the pic has a red hat

    3. SERIOUSLY ???? Then why do you want to read about or discuss brain injuries. Obviously you’ve found a superior way to heal, please share or leave us be.

    4. Don’t get sense that writer was using it as an excuse and after having a look see at her online I don’t believe she feels it defines her – the writer has a very positive and encouraging message to share x

  2. I don’t have a brain injury; but, my son does. My son is 32. He has a degree in communication. Before his accident, he didn’t have a problem understanding and/or communicating what was in his mind. Seven months after his accident, he is having problems with a simple joke. He gets frustrated and blows up. My point is, people who haven’t been in a TBI person’s shoes or caregiver, will never understand about the invisible scars left after a TBI. as a caregiver, believe me, I will say or respond to uneducated comments about a person with a TBI, and my words will not be kind or polite. I’m tired of people making assumptions based on what they see, the TBI person walking, talking, thinking and reasoning, etc, and don’t try to educate themselves on what they don’t know, a TBI person taking longer to answered verbally, trying to think, “should I take the stars or the elevator to be safe, or people thinking he/she is drunk because you speak with a slur”. If people that stares at my son’s trachea scars get the same look from me, let them verbalized something and they will get the same response from me.

    1. You are so right. It angers that me that we still live in a world where people think you’re not ill because you don’t look ill. Even more so when people don’t believe a hidden illness is a real thing.

      The blog post explains I was scared to stand up because of what happened the first ever time I stood up for myself… This post was published over a month ago, since then all my friends and family said I should have said something.

      You are right, people don’t think before they speak so they deserve to be spoken to like how they spoke to you/your son.

      Plus since this blog post my friends have said: The people don’t expect to be told off, it’ll make them think more in the future if they are.

  3. I can’t believe the people at that party got on your case instead of the guy that was making fun of stuttering. That is never ok whether it’s from a brain injury or not.

    1. The guy that was making fun of my stuttering did get on my case, I stood up for myself and had a go at him. He apologised and we spoke a little about my injury, so that was OK in the end because he realised he’d made a mistake.

  4. First , I am a TBI since 2013 yr.
    Anger woo , that is how I feel within seconds when someone says , ” that person is not disabled ” . However I think hold on before you blow your anger / swearing . How little I knew of TBI before I had one ,,,,,Very little!
    Besides I worked in a hospital for 12 years in Rehabilitation , with stroke , TBI,s, over dozees , wheel chair from broken bones , to age weakness too many things . But I was a Tech. Helper and a Unit clerk , little did I understand that a TBI is forever , let alone called a disability !
    Now I have had three years of rehabilitation to be able to process , walk and focus some and I have been improving hurray .
    Now almost 4 years , I can say , woo I am really disabled , because I need help to remember , my eyes do not track always ( they cross and sometimes get stuck ) , I have really exploding head pain , which puts me in bed in the dark HOPEING IT STOPS OR I FALL ASLEEP . I have a tuff time focusing on things very long ( project’s or subject matter ) .
    Okay , that’s it for now .
    Hope I am not out of line .
    May we all keep learning and be supportive in what we can .
    Thank you GLF

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