Before we start talking about disability, some of your first thought may be; “He doesn’t look disabled, surely there’s nothing that wrong with him!”. Well, I am fortunate in the sense I didn’t lose any limbs in my horrific car crash. I just lost something worse, specific brain functions; and the worst part is; you don’t even see it.
I have what is called a Traumatic Brain Injury (which has been also referred to as an “Acquired Brain Injury”), and it is the result of a car accident; 13 years ago. The “what happened” are not as important to the topic of what having an invisible disability means, but is important to understand the concept of an invisible disability. This means that because of neurological damage, I appear normal, so I am held to the same standards as everyone else.
Because of the areas damaged, like my cerebellum and brain stem; I have motor control issues and balance/gait problems. I appear like a drunkard. This doesn’t help that I want to have the same fun as everyone else, and want to appear normal; after all this happened at the worst time.
I got into the accident at 17 years old. My recovery took an astounding eight years (Motor Vehicle Accidents[MVA] are more complicated because you may also have a legal case running, which impedes your life as you are doing other things at the same time as therapy etc.) of therapies, school, tutors and trying to have a normal life. It didn’t work out well, to say the least. I also have problems with communication, the production and the actual talking. I have what’s called dysarthria, caused by damage to the speech area of my brain as well as being intubated through tracheostomy. So, I had to have speech therapy, for years. Just to have slurred speech, slow talking speed and a nice scar on my neck slightly above my breast plate. Now I even sound drunk sometimes, trust me; approaching women is taboo now.
I have breath control problems, I developed a tremor mostly in my right arm but it really is throughout my upper body; mostly being on the right side.
There is a whole host of problems like the damage frontal lobes, hypothalamus and so on. Yet I feel I gave you a good understanding of my daily troubles, to the degree that which you can understand that all these problems; aren’t seen as a product of a disability. Rather, these problems are seen as a problem of behaviour; I look just like an undamaged individual to the person on the street who doesn’t know me from a nail in the wall. This is the problem of the invisible disability, nobody knows of it. So, little people have empathy for it, most people label you a liar; the whole world loses its concept of compassion, empathy and kindness.
Can you blame them, how many actually are aware; how many exploit the kindness of others for personal gain? It’s hard, having those not know that you are disabled; and the sacrifices that you went through; just to be as close as you can to a normal person.
Stop judging us, disabled people are trying their best to live at your standards.
It’s not fun.