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What 'I'm Doing Fine' Means After My Brain Injury

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We ask people how they are too many times a day to count. Sometimes it’s out of genuine interest, and other times it’s a social nicety. This common question can become a very loaded one when you have a disability. “How are you” often means “how are you feeling?” My response when someone asks me how I am is “I’m good, thanks” 99 percent of the time.

This is often confusing for people, because how could I really be good? Especially on days when my disability is very visible in the form of seizures, dark circles under my eyes and pale skin. Upon further questioning, I will be honest about my health not being great on that particular day. I’ll share that I didn’t sleep, I’ve had multiple seizures, I have a headache, I feel unwell, etc. So why am I lying? Well, I’m not.

When people ask me how I am, they are asking how I am feeling. When I say I’m good, I’m saying I’m good enough today. My good may look very different from yours, and you may not be able to imagine experiencing what I do and classifying this as good. In 10 years of living with a brain injury, I’ve never had a single symptom-free day.  I may rarely physically feel good, but there are days when I feel good enough.

Good enough means something different to everyone. For me, it means I feel good enough to go to work today. Despite having brain injury symptoms all day, I’m happy to be there because I love my job and know it’s something I could have lost. It means I’m good enough to keep my personality and mood at its usual perky level and my disability is not getting the best of me that day. I’m good enough to function and do what I love despite how awful I may feel.

I try so hard to maintain a positive outlook on my life and disability. I have accepted my brain injury as a part of me and something that greatly altered the direction of my life. I’m happy with where my brain injury has led me and wouldn’t change what happened. I have recently started having seizures, and while I haven’t determined any positive outcomes from this new symptom, I still have hope that I will.

People in my life have expressed their surprise at how well I have adjusted to this new turn in my disability. My social life has diminished drastically — I no longer drink alcohol, I can do one thing per day and I’m usually in bed by 9 p.m. My once busy schedule has shrunk to work and home. I’ve been able to work, but find it exhausting and much harder than before. These are big life changes for me, but I’m still happy with what I am able to do. I crash and break down at times (bigtime this week) about my disability, but I still feel good enough to try to pick myself back up. Writing this certainly helped!

I may look and feel awful but considering what my brain injury could have taken away, this is still good enough for me.

Getty image by MangoStar Studio.

Originally published: March 21, 2018
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