Earlier in the year, I posted a blog entry about an article I wrote for Brain Injury Awareness Month. I stated - at that time - that it hadn't yet been accepted but that I was still hopeful.
Well, it did, indeed, get accepted...by the Globe and Mail, no less.
The link to the full essay is in the portfolio section of this website.
It didn't run during Brain Injury Awareness Month (June), unfortunately, the editor having gotten around to reading it much to late. However, she felt the message within it was important enough, and global enough, to run at any time, and so it was published on a totally random day in August. And I was completely blown away by the response...
By the number of e-mails that showed up in my inbox after that essay was published, I now know that I'm not the only brain injury survivor out there with wonky side effects that are hard to explain, and that nobody else seems to get. I now know that I am not alone, and that there are many others out there who also feel they are not being heard, taken seriously; others who feel that their symptoms have been or are being dismissed, and misdiagnosed.
And from the number of website hits that occurred in the wake of publication, I also now know that there are many others, besides me, who feel that current systems - medical, social - just simply do not adequately address or accept the fallout of brain injury. Medical wait times for neurology are atrocious country-wide, employers become impatient, people lose jobs, insurance is a battle, families/spouses have trouble accepting the odd behaviours/symptoms that can manifest in their loved ones post brain injury, and friends all too often simply fall by the wayside when the initial brain injury drama is over and the going gets weird and rough.
And the hardest thing about getting all that mail - all those pleas for help and understanding - was that I couldn't offer those who sent it in a way out...I simply couldn't offer anything that would give them any relief.
I've mentioned before I'm advice averse. I know, all too well, that every journey, every life, every brain, every injury is unique. All those who wrote in, I'm afraid, cannot simply follow someone else's path in order to heal...they must blaze their own trail.
The only thing I can possibly say - the only advice I would even dare offer - that may help others is that...
You are not alone.
From what I've experienced and read in the weeks since my article was published, I feel quite confident in saying that there are others who have experienced similar injuries/illnesses/symptoms. There are others that can understand. There are others out there - individuals and organizations - that have recognized the deficiencies in the system, and have stepped in to seal the cracks.
If they are not in your immediate neighbourhood or next door, then they are on social media, they have started blogs. They are members of local brain injury associations; they are in your province, your state, in your city.
So...Go out and find them.
One thing that became crystal to me, in the process of reading all the comments and letters that I received, is that too many brain injury survivors isolate themselves...far too many feel utterly alone. Far too many of the letters I read included the words "recluse", "hermit", "avoid", and "alone".
And so, to end this particular post, I just want to say this: To all those who feel alone...there are people who will 'get you'; and there are people out there who will understand.