Unseen disability: living with a brain injury

Ashley Ruskiewicz is an American writer whose aim is to thrive in life. One of her missions is to educate people on how to better help those who have suffered a brain injury. She is writing a book on the experience of living with a brain injury.  

With any kind of disability, there’s a hope that you can blend in somehow. The disability is an accepted part of life, but it’s not always easy to get help or to gain understanding from others. This is especially difficult when it comes to disabilities that are unseen, like a brain injury.

If someone is in a wheelchair or on crutches, it’s easy for people around them to see that they may need assistance opening a door, for example. While the world may not always be so kind, people can see more obvious ways to help a person with a physical disability.

Brain injuries are so unique because there’s truly only one person who can see inside your head- you. Like other disabilities, your brain can evolve and is able to adapt, but the difficulties are always there. With every new adventure that life brings, the person who suffers from the brain injury must learn new coping mechanisms. If the injury happened in childhood, there are many different challenges than in one’s 30s. The longer you live with any disability, the more things you face that you need to adapt to.

A lifetime awaits. It’s a blessing to live a “full life” while having any kind of disability. However, there’s never a time when a person with a disability of any kind doesn’t have an obstacle to face.

Although I’ve lived with my brain injury since childhood, there are so many things that I’ve had to learn to cope with since my school days. How can I learn to cut vegetables properly when I have no depth perception to see what I’m cutting? Will any of the difficulties I have prevent me from being a good mother to my future children?

As a person with an impairment, I face the same things that everyone else does on their life journey: careers, relationships, cooking, cleaning, finances… The list goes on. The difference is that I have to always be mindful that there is another dimension to those things- how my brain injury affects the way I need to complete those tasks or achieve success in those areas. Granted, I’m not thinking about my impairments on a daily basis, but it’s always in the back of my mind. If my compensation skills get “lazy” I could cut my finger while cooking, break something while cleaning, or screw up my bank account. Of course these things could happen to any of us. The difference is that there’s an unseen reason why they may happen to me more often.

Having a disability that you can’t physically see is like having a secret that you can’t tell anyone about. You are able to live life seemingly normal, but not many people understand the struggle that can often lie within. All disabilities are not created equal as they all come with their own set of weights. The important thing is to be mindful that some of us walking this planet may have small hurdles that live inside of us that we must jump over every single day.

By Ashley Ruskiewicz

Featured image credits: Smarttiw

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