When I’m going about my normal day, (who am I kidding, with a brain injury there is no such thing as a normal day) I have know idea if the people who I walk past have a brain injury too. It is the invisible disability. But that can make peoples expectations of you too high.
I don’t know if it’s because modern life is so fast, but there seems to be an increasing habit, of people not bothering to use full sentences.
That’s fine in a operating theatre when the surgeon says “scalpel”. It’s easy to guess they are asking the assistant to pass it. It might not be polite, but when speed could mean life or death you can forgive dropping the courtesies. In the real world, putting the word “please” at the end might soften the blow, but it doesn’t add any more context.
“Phone please“. Do you want me to pass you the phone, or make a phone call.
People seem to assume that the rest of the words are wasted. They think you can fill in the gaps by reading the situation. Well I’ve got news for you, sometimes I can’t!
Sometimes we might not want to always talk about it and be forever explaining ourselves.
One day I really had to go to the toilet urgently as my bladder wouldn’t give me much notice. It was a hospital (which I find hard to navigate at the best of times.) There was a separate disabled toilet, but I couldn’t see where the general ladies toilets were. So feeling like there wasn’t time and therefore leaving me no choice, I used the disabled toilet.
I know these are designed for wheelchair users. I wouldn’t normally use one as they should be kept free for them. So I was deeply embarrassed when, to my horror, as I exited there was a wheelchair user waiting. The knowing look I got from them made me die inside, so I just shyly smiled and held the door open for them. I felt like a criminal. If they knew my problem I’m sure they wouldn’t have taken issue with me using the disabled toilet. But as I can walk (or limp actually) on my own two feet, I was judged as being thoughtless and/or lazy. I have an invisible disability, my brain and bladder, you just can’t see them.
If another disabled person can look down on me, (so to speak, don’t write in pointing out that when I’m standing a person sitting down has to look up at me) what must the general public think? But my issues are legitimate and just as important to recognise. And I’m still trying to accept how things are different for me now. Believe me, there’s no one harder on me than myself. I didn’t ask to have an invisible disability. Please just cut me some slack.
Just because I smile, it doesn’t mean I’m fine. Even if you ask me “How are you?”, I’ll probably say “Good thank you, and you?”, as often people don’t really want to hear the real story.
I don’t want to wear a badge as my brain injury doesn’t define me. But I wish people were a bit more open minded as to what a disability is.
Have you ever felt misjudged? How do you deal with these situations?How does your invisible divisibility affect you?
Let’s get this out to the world so we might change the way people think.