One of the most emotionally trying difficulties that people deal with after a brain injury is simply that it seems like no one really understands what they're dealing with or how it has changed their life. It's hard for them to connect with people. They can't find support when they need it most.
This issue is most pronounced with so-called "invisible injuries," which are things an outside observer would not see. Examples include:
- Difficulty remembering things and creating new memories
- Issues with concentration on a daily basis
- Insomnia, or the inability to fall asleep
- Chronic fatigue, which makes someone feel exhausted even if they are sleeping enough -- or if insomnia is robbing them of their sleep
- Struggles with depression, which can be made worse by the changes in their life
- Chronic pain that they have to live with every day
- General anxiety about life or about the specific cause of the injury
If you meet a new person, they may have no idea that you have to deal with these things all the time. But they are still very real. They still change your life forever.
It is often hard for brain injury survivors to feel like people understand them simply because they can't explain these things completely. If they had physical issues -- trouble walking, for instance -- they'd never feel like anyone questioned them. If they just feel tired all of the time and don't want to be social, people see it more as a conscious choice, even though it's not.
"You seem fine"
Experts warn that one of the worst things you can say to a brain injury survivor is that they seem fine. Family members even make this mistake, thinking that they are being uplifting.
They're not. All that they're really doing is telling you that they clearly cannot see or understand these issues you face. You don't feel fine. You haven't felt fine since the injury. Being told that you look fine doesn't make you feel better; it just shows you that your injuries are invisible.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these brain injury issues can be more serious than physical ailments. Walking with a limp may be easier to adjust to over time, for instance, than not being able to remember who people are or what you're doing. Outsiders may assume that you "got lucky" not to have serious physical injuries, but you may feel like you're worse off than if you did.
If you got injured in a car accident, it's important to understand exactly how these brain injuries can change your life. You also want to know what legal options you have to seek financial compensation.