"We have two stories for you.
The first is about a man who fell three and a half floors to his death and came back to tell his tale. He suffered from Brain Injury.
The second is about a woman who fell two floors and took a similar Brain Injury journey. Both of the stories focus on the greatest challenges during and after these accidents. They show that the same accident can manifest itself in different ways.
Our experiences show the diversity and complexity within the Brain Injured world."
Judgement (Paul McMahon)
When I woke up in hospital I felt at ease. People were there and everything felt calm, relaxed and docile. Life was relaxing despite my strange separate feelings inside my Brain. I immediately thought of how long I’d be out of action prior to the next life challenge, conquering to scale higher than I had previously self-imagined.
For three months in hospital I dreamt of my past life and thinking of how I would achieve better than before. I began to write a book as I was bored, but never imagined that it would become the journey it has thus far, to take me into another world. I thought I was ready for this world. I thought the world was ready for me.
I was wrong.
My first challenge was the judgement of employers. Interview after interview felt like a loss, where I spoke of my accomplishments in a world built by expectations too simplified for reasoning. A small A4 sheet of paper held the truly deep understanding of the role being applied for and the dreams or aspirations of every single person who could have ever applied for it. In many cases the opposite took hold where people working in related management roles had their eye on the exact style of human prize they wanted and you should have known that for working in such an exactly similar role for 20 years.
I met people with smiles but that was not always the facade presented to me. I met good people, I met sad people, I met angry people and I met frustrated people with a lack of understanding constructed through their simplified version of the world in a place of font stretched across computer screens, spreadsheets and university intelligence with a kindergarten mind frame. You needed the highest degree with the lowest ability to think individually.
This judgement of employers was simply a stage I assumed. It was basically at the beginning before they knew your talents and abilities. Before they knew the person inside of you displayed in the workplace and ready for the challenges a job can bring.
“Judgement is surely just for now. Judgement can’t be how humanity exists?!”
In the workplace I was met with fear. Not that the places were all too scary until a manager or colleague would yell and belittle you if the exact need they had was not met. At times there were things that I asked for. At times, my issues that I did not understand prior to them occurring at work with attention to detail came to increase the abuse of others. With time I began to see how I could overcome such issues, time was one of them. Time was frowned upon in the workplace.
On a few occasions I admitted that I had a Brain Injury years ago and this was the possible reason for my mistakes. I was fired. Nothing was written to say I had a Brain Injury limitation, nothing stopped them from taking action against this natural burden toward my existence. I was fired. Minimal time was required for my removal from the workplace. I was eliminated.
With time I began to learn the normal human condition in a new light. One I did not understand before. People with goals and achievements in mind do not always acknowledge that in a society, we are all working together to achieve the best outcome for all. We are together for security and well being. Judgement is the one thing that separates the humans from the parasites. Those who eat away at the emotional well being of others to achieve better and feel good for accepting their dominant role in society. Judgement I learnt became the fuel for displaying the true nature of a person. The kind of person they wish to be, when indeed assistance could include others in their achievements and goals in this world. Their judgement put them on a pedestal above but I saw that their pedestal was flimsy and bound by the praise of others, not those they could help.
I remember looking at one employer as she sat on the front cover of a magazine. She removed me within 10 minutes of discussion, 24 hours after I shared my plight to the windows of her soul … looking into her eyes to show what I needed, acceptance. I was fired.
I looked over at the magazine and thought of all that we seek from the external world from which we derive representation. She smiled, calm, together and with the achievement of her success bathing in the limelight that her parents money had given her. She had once joked with myself and another colleague about how she was one of the few children in her family without PhDs, without a doctorate, without another badge of honour and without displaying her privilege. I was fired.
Judgement is a hard thing to deal with because at times others who have gone through trauma offer it. Sometimes it is used towards you as a way to alleviate their own condition and to further escape from an internal battle against this world. Mental health was something I began to learn in all its facets and that sometimes people become blinded in the search for self preservation.
What about the guy walking down the street at 2pm with the tight shirt and the duct tape used on the strap of his backpack to stop it from breaking.
Why? Do you know him? Do you know his story?
Don’t judge him. That boy is me. Did you know the tight shirt is because my clothes are from before falling three and a half floors as I continue being fired and cannot buy new clothes as I gain weight? The strap on my bag is because I cannot afford a replacement.
Judging is so easy isn’t it?
- Paul McMahon is an up-and-coming author, who shares his journey through brain injury, as well as runs a travel blog. His main message is that “the worst accident in the world can still direct you into bliss and prosperity”.
If you would like to read more of his story, you can through his blog, or connect with him on social: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Acceptance (Jennifer Stokley)
My greatest challenge was learning to accept myself for who I am now.
I fell two stories to the sidewalk below. I suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, nine major broken bones, a ruptured bladder, a punctured lung and went into Cardiac Arrest for good measure. I was in a natural coma for three months at the lowest scale possible to still be alive, yet I survived.
I woke to being a total stranger to myself. My family and lover were strangers to me, which must have broken their hearts. I was a grown woman, yet I thought I was a child. In my mind I was starting from the beginning. Eating mush, being wheeled to the potty and someone there to keep me safe, being washed in bed, the works. I even had a stuffed monkey in bed with me that I cuddled, snuggled, cried on and sucked on as I drifted off to sleep.
After three months of that, I was finally released. Life, you would think, was about to begin. WRONG!
Any life I had going for me before was gone, wiped away in a second. I was released into a strange new world. I was confused, scared, angry, depressed and more. What was I supposed to do now? I struggled for years like that, until I said to myself “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”
I can’t change what has happened, all I can do is try to do the best I can with what I am able to do now and work to do better, day by day. That changed my focus from “poor me” to “I’m alive, now what?”
I had to accept what had happened, even if I didn’t like it. Acceptance Is Key!!!
Once I accepted it, everything else began to fall into place in my world around me. I found out I was a real fighter and there was so much I could do and I keep finding that out, week by week, year by year, and it never stops, nor do I.
I finally found other survivors in Cyber-Space that helped me to find direction and passion in my New Normal life.
That passion was to help other survivors as best as I possibly can. I created pictures with words, with such meaning. I created two community pages on Facebook for the world to have access to.
I have been a guest on a Brain Injury Blogtalk radio show for two years as a call-in and cheerleader/helper and guest four times.
I now connect to over 25000 people on a good week, worldwide. Blogs, Support Groups, Healthsites, Survivors and more through my one community page. I also share with over 50 brain injury support groups and have been made honorary administrator in many.