Being yourself 

My last nursing placement which lasted 9 weeks, whereby none of the staff knew about my brain injury, was something quite amazing for me. It was a profound experience! 

It might sound daft to some, but it was the first time I felt normal and like I was just another member of the team since my TBI. I felt more confident and walked away with all A stars. My feedback even got me invited to represent my university up in London. 

I felt like the real me, not the brain injured me. For the first time in years I didn’t feel alone, I felt like I was normal. Sure I suffered inwardly, but I felt strong and able to deal with it. 

There was no ‘maybe try writing Lists? Are you tired? Can you be quick with the NG feed, I know you talk a lot and you struggle with concentration but Try to concentrate. 

For the first time since my injury, I made proper friends. I performed well and I couldn’t hve been happier. People didn’t treat me differently. 

Anywhere I go I do not mention it. If people ask about my scars, I tell them I had a car crash. 

That’s usually followed by the inevitable ‘are you ok now? No side effects?’ To which I say ‘no, all good now’. 

Even though it makes me sad it’s the lesser of two evils. 

Sometimes I feel like a patient because even if my brain injury is not referred to directly, I become a patient indirectly. The atmosphere instantly changes when people find out I’ve got a hidden and weird disability. 

My symptoms don’t define me, but I’m not fussed if people do think this. I only care when it has the potential to affect my nursing. 

Perhaps this is why I don’t keep friends for the long term. 

When people get close I’m keen to distance myself and start again. The more they know the more they don’t know, if that makes sense. 

It’s difficult to describe but it is what it is. I am happy to be alive, it’s a bonus I made it this far all things considered! So I am grateful and happy, it’s just lonely sometimes. Either way my brain injury means I can only be who I am, I can’t pretend. I don’t have the faculties to pretend to be something other than myself anymore. No front, just truth. 

I tried being sensible for years, but it didn’t work out.

I tried to fit in, same conclusion. 

I tried to be quiet, no chance. 

I tried following the rules like other people. This was a huge failure. 

It’s true, being myself is all I can be, totally and 100%. It does seem to get me into trouble an awful lot though I’m told. 

It’s easier for me to get into trouble and be disliked whilst being myself than acting and pretending to be something I’m not. 

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