BY: MARK KONING
If you ask me, any type of brain injury is traumatic, whether it is acquired by a motor vehicle collision, an aneurism, a viral infection etc.
Living with the challenges of ABI, which can include headaches, nausea, fatigue, chronic pain – among other countless symptoms – can be brutal, and this brutality often comes in waves. Brain injury is often invisible, episodic, and quite often, not understood.
Sometimes I think the real trauma of acquiring a brain injury comes after the actual injury itself. I think many survivors of brain injury handle the initial challenges of their injury better than the ongoing aftermath, the reactions from others to their injury, and their own mental well-being.
I am happy for those that try, for those that don’t turn away. I am lucky to be in the position I am and to have the support I do. Nevertheless, at times, it feels as though the trauma continues.
There are times I think it is my fault: for pushing myself too hard, or for not saying enough. There are other times I simply want to yell and scream. Sometimes I even get confused and scared simply by looking in the mirror and questioning my own feelings.
I don’t want to explain what fatigue means for me, I don’t want to justify why or how it is that I just know my headaches are not the same as yours, I want to stop feeling stupid every time I forget something and I see that look on the faces of others.
The trauma lives on.
I am doing the best I can.
I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, I just want them to understand. Because if others can start to do that, perhaps I can keep moving forward without feeling like one step up means two steps down.
Then maybe, I can put the trauma to rest.
Mark’s passion to lend a helping hand, offer advice and give back has developed into a moral and social responsibility with the goal of sharing, inspiring and growing – for others as well as himself. His experience as a survivor, caregiver, mentor and writer has led to his credibility as an ABI Advocate and author of his life’s story, Challenging Barriers & Walking the Path. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Koning or go to www.markkoning.com