Today, I want to share some thoughts with you on the subject of community. Having a brain injury and living with an invisible disability — while trying to sort out how our lives have been impacted by our brain injuries — can be daunting and frustrating.
As our external wounds heal, we may find that the once freely given empathy diminishes and fades away. We may also have “well-meaning” individuals in our lives who may think,”he / she just had a head injury, but they are fine now”.
Those individuals may want you and I to just get over it.
When we can not “get over it” empathy is exchanged for unrealistic expectations. These expectations can leave us struggling to accept who we are as brain injury survivors.
In our attempt to accept the changes in our lives, we may reach out to organizations and associations in an attempt to gain support and make sense of our brain injuries. We may find that our efforts provide little more than a conversation which ends in our being given a referral or told that they will send us information. Once the conversation ends we may again feel a sense of frustration and despondency — because we did not receive the support we had hoped to gain.
Brain injury survivors may also find themselves experiencing minimization and marginalization from the “helping community” from which they seek to receive support. Brain injury survivors may find that this minimization and marginalization comes in the form of patronization — patriarchal patronization. Patronization by definition is to behave in an offensively condescending manner. Patriarchal denotes that “they” know what is best.
Instead of finding community, brain injury survivors may subsequently find themselves feeling alienated and isolated from a “support” community that — in practice — provides little in the way of support and empowerment. As a consequence — over time — the brain injury survivor may find themselves buying into a notion that who they are as individual’s is of little value and significance.
Such conditioning — in effect — can leave you and I stereotyped, labeled and believing we are limited by being brain injury survivors.
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