It’s been a little bit since I have written. I can assure you it has nothing to do with being lazy. I want to give a brief update on what #dontmindme130 has been doing.
The big news, which a lot of you have already heard, is I was fortunate enough to interviewed by our local paper, and they choose to put it on the front page! That’s a big win for TBI. Then the BIAV (Brain injury Association of Virginia) was kind enough to feature an article I written on their web site. I believe this Friday it will be on their Facebook page. Last but not least I was asked to write an article for the Fredericksburg guidebook. Like I said, it has been a crazy run. Please pray that what I’m writing and sharing will be an encouragement to those that read the articles. That continues to be the goal of my blog and other endeavors.
So, here we go back to the story. While my defense team worked on the legal side of things, my therapists worked on me. What was I doing besides therapy? Going crazy. I was all grown up with nowhere to go. Through some research and digging my parents came across a small Christian College in the area. The school was only about 45 minutes from home. The other plus that helped with my injuries was they did a modular system. That meant they took one to two weeks per subject, and then went to the next subject. It worked well because it allowed me to focus on one subject at a time. Plus it allowed me to “feel” grown up because I could stay on campus. Seems as if it would be a good idea right? Well, let’s just say what seems good isn’t always the answer.
The following is my impression and the timeline may be messed up. There was so much going on its kind of blurry now, but the following is what I remember. First year there was fairly good, and my grades weren’t horrible. I was learning and it allowed me to feel I had some freedom. Yes, during this time I was still going to therapy. Also I was going home a lot of weekends. While the staff did not fully understand, they were at least accommodating as they could be.
Here’s where the problem began. I was a guy on campus who slept a lot (just like at home), didn’t work, and seemed to just take classes. Well, the campus was so small it made seem that I was lazy and didn’t care. Neither was true, but nobody took the time to ask to know the truth. The other thing is you throwing someone with a low maturity level in a “grown up” scenario, and that’s just a recipe for disaster. That’s exactly what happened. Many of the other students ignored me, messed with me, or gossiped about me. Dating was a disaster too.
Now having said all that, I know for a fact I did not help my case at all! I had moments (especially in dating) where I was childish. Also, when I would date, I’d want to pull whoever I was dating away from the group. I slept hours on end, which made it look like I didn’t do anything while other students were busy working up to 18 hour a day. On top on all that, I was going for a pastoral degree. I did quite a bit of speaking, and my usual topic happened to be my accident. I was told to my face were sick of hearing about! That’s like saying I’m sick of seeing you’re an amputee. Well, folks, TBI is a life long injury. It never jus goes away. It also hurt me because this was a “Christian environment” and I expected a lot more care out of people claiming to be Christian. So, what happened and why did it go so wrong?
The first answer is easy….I wasn’t ready for this step. However, I don’t blame anyone. I needed to be anywhere but home. The next thing….remember this was almost 20 years ago and no one, especially in my circles, understood TBI. With my limited abilities I couldn’t explain what was going on. I’ll give an example….I was always trying to pull whoever I was dating from a group to a one to one conversation. Not because I was creepy; but, due to my injury, I had a hard time in groups. I still do to this day. Back then I didn’t know how to communicate that. Let’s look at another one…the sleeping. Well, we know that with TBI oversleeping is common because the brain is trying to pull all its resources to heal itself. Again, how would an 11 year old (the diagnosed maturity level when I was in college) explain that. To add to the equation, this was a small college with only 70 students in its hay day. These scenarios isolated me further and further from other students.
What can we learn from this? I would challenge you to read I Corinthians 13. I will reference the first verse… ”Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or tinkling cymbal.” What that first verse is saying is no matter what we do unless its done with care were just making a lot of noise. That is what we need to do as Christians and people in general. Try to understand people to the best of your ability. None of us can do that perfectly. There will be times in all of our lives where we focused on ourselves because of life circumstances. So, what am I saying never assume you know what’s going on in a person’s life. Now there were a few people that took the time to get to know me, but those were few. Those people had an idea of what was going on.
That means, dear family and friends, when your loved tells you they have TBI take every chance you have to understand the injury. I pray you go above and beyond that and learn your loved one. In my experience one the things that makes TBI difficult it that the brain is individual to that person and effects each of us in different ways. That’s my challenge don’t assume number one; second support someone who you know is hurting, whether its family or a friend.