Gratitude

I like to tell people after they have heard my story that I am thankful for what happened. This injury has shaped who I am and what I enjoy doing.

I could not imagine what I would be like if my injury didn’t happen. I am not sure if I would be able to do stuff I could do now.

Thanks to this injury I have a strong work ethic. I can push through challenges and do what I want to do. I am not willing to give up on anything.

I used to not be able to stand on one foot, but after hard work in physical therapy, I am not jumping on the ice and landing on one foot.

I am thankful for all the opportunities that I had to get to work on the things that proved difficult for me.

I am thankful for the people who didn’t give up on me when things became difficult. This happens a lot.

My injury has taught me how to be compassionate towards people who have their own struggles. There are people you will encounter in life who don’t understand that things that come easily to them don’t come quickly to others.

I am thankful that my injury has allowed me to advocate for what I need to succeed. This took me some time to learn, but I began the process at a young age. Everyone needs to learn this no matter what the situation is.

Learning Spanish

It is helpful to learn a foreign language. I started to learn Spanish in 6th grade. I never knew what to expect. The process of learning English was so painful for me that I completely expected to give up after the required year of taking a language, but I chose not to.

It turned out that I fell in love with it. For some reason learning a language must occur in a different part of the brain because it turned out that I was able to catch on quickly.
I still put a lot of effort into learning Spanish, but it all came with ease. I was able to see the results that I hadn’t seen in other subjects.

My first Spanish teacher was terrific. She was part of the reason I fell in love with the language. I was able to want to continue my learning throughout my school career.
There were some frustrating times and concepts I have more of a difficult time with, but the difference was that I was able to have a drive through that frustration.

There was a teacher in high school that made me fall out of love with the language. This teacher did not understand that for me to be fluent in Spanish, I will be slower at retrieving words because that was how I speak English.

Continue reading “Learning Spanish”

Obsessed

OCD is not specific to brain injuries but it is never an easy thing to deal with

For those of you who don’t know, OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The DSM 5 defines OCD as, “the presence of obsessions, compulsions or both.”

It can be debilitating and take up most of one’s time throughout the day. The DSM 5 has plenty more under the definition, I have a link to the page at the end of my post.

Anyone can have OCD. It is not unique to a person with a brain injury. I am writing about it because I have OCD. Just like everything in my life, there is no sure way to know if it is a result of the injury or something else.

The most challenging thing I have found about OCD is trying to get people to understand what I am doing. Some compulsions are difficult to hide, which means that people will see them and ask about it.

My most visible compulsion is picking the scabs on my arms. I usually have big red spots on my arms from where I picked and the scares from the older places.

It is not a pretty sight, and people become curious about it. I have had people ask me what happened, and I just say I am allergic to mosquito bites. Someone asked if I had chicken pox.

I won’t lie, it is not fun. It is humiliating and painful to stop. I promise you that is not the only compulsion, but it is the most visible.

No matter what obstacles your brain injury gives you, you are not alone. We all struggle with something, visible or not. If anyone needs to talk to someone who gets it, let me know.

Even with a brain injury, you are not stuck with the life after it. There are ways to improve it. I went to therapy, and it decreased the intensity of my picking. There are ways to get help, and it is worth it.

Speech Therapy

Speech therapy was a slow and painful process but in the long run it was probably the best thing for me.

I have a joke I like to tell people when I talk about what I had to go through with my brain injury. I tell people that name any type of therapy, and I have been through it. Apparently, that is not true, but at times it felt like it.
The therapy I remember most is speech therapy. I did speech therapy in two different settings. When I began, I went to a home office, this was nice and private, so I wasn’t ashamed of it.
It overall felt more comfortable. I was able to have anonymity, so my friends didn’t have to know what I was doing. In elementary school, the image that I was an average kid was critical to me. I am not sure why because now I don’t care about that, but back then I did.
My first speech therapist was great. She knew how to make things fun and explain them to me in a way I understood. It allowed me to feel better about what I was doing because I had a better understanding of what I needed to work on.
My second therapist was great. She was sweet and loved her job. What I had against it was public, and I ended up missing parts of school because of it.
I also had to do that therapy in a group. Most of the time it was just another guy and me. This was a different experience from what I was used to. It always felt like a competition against him instead of having the opportunity to improve.
The fact that I had to miss reading or math lessons did not help how I did in school. It made me mad and frustrated. In the long run, it helped me. It was a good choice, and I wouldn’t change it.

Photo by Hrayr Movsisyan on Unsplash

Transitions

The process of growing up is a difficult one for anyone. The application process is long and tedious. It is scary for every high school junior or senior. The addition of a brain injury complicates the process.

Brain injuries affect their humans differently. My brain injury made it, so I needed to fight to receive extra time on admissions tests. But still, my scores did not reflect my work ethic. It was very frustrating.

I needed to rely on other parts of my application to get in. I went to a small high school, so my references knew me very well. I was lucky, but some kids do not have the support that I had. It is crucial for them to find someone who can help them through this transition.

The worst part for me was once I hit submit. I couldn’t change or improve my application. I just needed to wait. As the letters poured in saying no while all my friends were getting accepted I needed to lean on my support system often.

It was a process to find schools that accepted me based on other stuff then my test scores. It is important to know there are options. Just because friends and classmates get into amazing schools doesn’t mean you are in trouble.

There is always a way to get to what you want to do. If college isn’t an option at first, there are other ways. There are gap year programs and community college to start the process that way or go into the workforce and then apply later. It is essential to know what to suggest when feelings are down about getting into schools. It is not easy for anyone, but it can be worse with a unique obstacle.