Living with a brain injury; if you have the desire to try and make something of yourself, you need to work 10 times harder than anyone else and expect the same results others work half as hard for. By doing this, you will become susceptible to mistakes and people will judge you for it.
To many who have very little understanding of BI, this will sound like a defeatist comment. This is so far from the truth and needs to be recognised as the reality that many people face with this injury.
It is not important what your goal is. You could be trying to get a part time job doing something you enjoy, studying at college or simply trying to survive each day with your family.
The goal is not important, the principle is. You must anticipate situations, be prepared and try to ignore the fear that constantly tries to prevent us from living.
When I sit down to write my assignments, I know I have some problems that I can expect to arrive shortly. With reading; all the words jumble together and I find it hard to follow each line in a paragraph. My head starts spinning and the floor starts moving, like I’m trying to walk on a bouncy castle. Except it hurts if you fall over.
So I get a ruler to help follow the words. Or find some paracetamol!
When I’m typing, I am in no man’s land. My head is like a swamp; slow moving and muddy, word finding is impossible after about half an hour and I forget what I wanted to write about, or the point I wanted to make.
So I use the online thesaurus. I vaguely type in the word I wanted and Lo and behold, I’ve got loads more. This usually triggers it.
On my last placement on a ward, I was pretty sure at on point I was going to have a seizure. It was at the end of the 8 weeks, and I know I had pushed myself beyond my limits working full time and living out of a suitcase.
And my grandma died too, sitting round her bed with my uncles and dad for days drained the life out of me in between working.
One day towards the end of my placement, staff members insisted that I go and sit down with a cup of coffee. I protested, but eventually succumbed to the fact I had walked into too many objects that day and probably needed a rest. I was talking with a heavy lisp and sounded punch drunk. The whites of my eyes were no longer white. I couldn’t swallow food or talk properly.
In the staff room, I bent down to open the fridge and nearly fell over. I grabbed the counter to stop this from happening as I didn’t fancy a face plant into the floor that could ruin my good looks. The ground was moving so fast, the walls started spinning and my head felt like a sumo wrestler was grappling with it between his (or her, we’re all equal) legs.
All symptoms are brought to the surface. You need to make the choice of whether or not it is worth putting yourself through this every day in pursuit of what you are trying to achieve, whatever this may be.
There is no shame in saying enough is enough. I think in a way it is foolish to put yourself through something to this extent unless you truly believe in it. That day I didn’t have a seizure, but realised that full time work was no longer an option, but I had given it a try for a whole year before I found this out.
At the same time there would have been no shame in my throwing in the metaphorical towel. But I can hear the comments now – “You gave it your best shot. You know you did well you are such a strong person, but nursing with a brain injury was just too much for you. You can always get a job as a healthcare assistant again to work with children.” – fuck that.
You need a spark of insanity, the soul of a lion and the will and understanding that you need to work harder than them. I haven’t achieved anything yet, I’m still working on it. It will take nearly 5 years to get my nursing degree, as opposed to 3 for everyone else. This is proof that I have to work harder than them for 5 years in order to achieve what they can in only 3.