In August 2007 I wrote this 4 part series. In lieu of what transpired with Natasha Richardson and the subject matter of traumatic brain injury being discussed as an invisible disability — on ABC Radio San Francisco KGO AM 810 March 18, 2009 — I decided to reprint this 4 part series in its entirety.
My Struggle Living with an Invisible Disability
My interest is to empower individuals who are also living with an invisible disability — due to a brain injury or due any other type of organic, medical, psychological or mental health condition. May you find the hope and courage — by reading through this 4 Part series — to both love and accept your reality and yourself.
The perspective that I share with in this series is from what I have experienced while living with an invisible disability for close to 42 years. My goal is not to affix blame on anyone — as that does no one any good — but to share what has helped me in my process.
In my experience, denial kept me isolated and alienated from myself and other people — for many years — until I was able to begin to accept myself and my reality.
And now for Part 4
As I shared in the 3rd installment of this series, the injury to my right frontal lobe (executive center functioning) limits my ability to read many subtleties and social nuances in “real time”. The more time I have to spend interacting with the second and third groups of people that I talked about in, My Struggle living with an Invisible Disability Revisited – Part 1 my stress level increases. When I am stressed beyond my limits my ability to monitor and manage external stimuli decreases.
Mental and emotional fatigue decrease my ability to read and interpret ongoing social interactions in real time — which can, in turn, lead to my being misunderstood.
With continued and ongoing interactions, my relationships can come under strain, especially as I become fatigued and stressed. In the event that people do not understand or want to accept that I have limitations and deficits — because of the damage to my brain — they can become frustrated and angry with me. Rather than trying to understand what is transpiring, individuals in groups 2 and 3 choose to become indignant with me. In the process, I experience alienation from those individuals.
In many cases, these individuals may choose to avoid having to interact with me because they do not want to take the time to understand. In other instances, I find myself either overtly / covertly ridiculed or criticized because I am unable to consistently read subtleties and nuances in real time. Although I diligently try to over compensate for the filters — that no longer work effectively in my right frontal lobe — sometimes I am unable to make the necessary adjustments “in real time” or during my interactions.
Both scenarios prove to be uncomfortable because they lead me to believe there is something inherently wrong with me. Both scenarios do not factor in the significance of the damage to my brain or my invisible disability. Therefore, I have learned that I need to limit both my interactions and the amount of time that I spend with some people, especially with individuals who have a need to deny or minimize my reality.
Please read the conclusion of this series in Part 5. Thank you.
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