Traumatic brain injuries have been called ‘invisible injuries’ because they are effectively invisible on the outside. While a person may be struggling with memory loss, confusion, mood swings, headaches, nausea, and many more problems, they still look normal to the rest of the world. There is no bruise or bandage to show they are still healing.
Unfortunately, this makes many people underestimate brain injuries. They may be sympathetic initially, but after a week a person’s support can quickly turn into “I’ve heard you’re supposed to be better by now,” or “quit faking.”
Anyone who has experienced a concussion or TBI has likely heard statements like these. They are tossed out casually by those who either had a concussion once and quickly recovered or only know a mixture of myth and fact they’ve overheard throughout their lives – as award-winning author, speaker, and traumatic brain injury survivor Amy Zellmer will tell you.
Over two-and-a-half years after her brain injury, Zellmer still lives with memory loss and issues with words. But, as she recently wrote about for the Huffington Post, she still receives criticism and hurtful statements from friends and family who think she is overplaying her injury.
Of course, when people say these types of things, they aren’t intending to be hurtful. More often, they are motivated by a misguided attempt to motivate someone into more proactive healing and a poor understanding of traumatic brain injury.
Most recently, Zellmer had to endure a friend telling her in complete earnest that she should “quit using your brain injury as an excuse.” As she explains in her response, people with brain injuries are not using their injury excuses. “We are simply doing the best we can with what we have been given.”