As Patty Duke shared her passion for making a positive difference in the world in publicizing mental wellness, I and many others are sharing our passion for making a positive difference in the world in publicizing brain injury awareness.
I have made, to date a miraculous recovery and work each day to regain more of what I lost in the stroke 4 years ago. I hear every day how good I look, that it's hard for others to believe I had a big stroke.
This photo was taken earlier this year. I am 63 years old. I do look good, but please look beyond my appearance.
Please see my spirit and my joy in living. Please understand I need you to acknowledge I can't always adapt to your needs that my needs have to matter. Please understand I have a finite amount of energy each day; surprises and unexpected guests often deplete the energy I have and cause me to cancel plans I have made for the rest of the day. Please understand I can't always do the things you take for granted, like drive across bridges with metal superstructures and keep my balance in climbing stairs. If you don't know what I need and want to be there for me, please ask me to educate you. And please understand I am fighting each day to get back a little more of what I used to do. I'm still me, but I go through my life differently than I did before.
Please consider what I have written. Please imagine how it might be for you to have lost the ability to concentrate, move your arm, remember important things, solve problems, speak well, clearly communicate your thoughts and emotions as you think them and feel them, prepare your taxes, walk easily, drive your car, and function in your life. Please imagine how difficult it can be to pretend you can do all these things in a world that judges first and asks questions later. And please ask yourself what you would need from others if you were me.
On this final day of Brain Injury Awareness Month 2016, please don't evaluate survivors by how we look. What you see on the outside and what we experience on the inside are two very different things. Instead, please ask yourself and please ask us how you can support us.