BY: MARK KONING
Here we are into the month of June and Brain Injury Awareness Month.
Every year I wonder of its impact. What minds are being awakened and new things learned? Do people come to an understanding of what it’s like to live with brain injury? Are folks even paying attention?
Are all of those awareness campaigns ever enough?
Over the years I have attended various conferences, and volunteered as a peer support mentor. Of all the survivors I meet and all of the voices I listen to, the common theme I hear over and over is of people feeling alone and misunderstood.
I am misunderstood, often. I feel like people hear me, but don’t listen.
“Hello, is anybody out there?” I want to scream. “Do you get it?”
But when I really think about it, contemplating my own thoughts and replaying conversations, I realize: isolation is not winning. Hopelessness and ignorance do not always come out on top. People care, learn, and adapt.
I am a graduate, I am honoured with diplomas, I own a home and have a good job. From everything I have accomplished, and through all of the challenges I have faced, I have learned.
As a brain injury survivor and advocate, people applaud my presentations; they enjoy my blogs and value my mentorship. A written memoir of my life and challenges with brain injury has gotten respect and admiration.
I. Am. Awareness.
Everyone who speaks up and moves forward is awareness.
Life is awareness. It is happening all of the time, more often than we, or I, may think.
Is it enough? I don’t know the answer to that. Is there ever a time we should stop moving forward? To stop learning and teaching?
Helping to create brain injury awareness is part of me and who I am. It is part of a lot of us. And it is all of OUR legacy, being aware, creating hope, understanding, and inclusion.
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.