Personal Limitations: Dealing With My New Reality
Kelli Gary talks about new personal limitations she faced after her traumatic brain injury and how she finally came to deal with and realize that life would be different.
To a certain degree I was able to recognize my own limitations, but there were still areas that I thought I could do. You know--there's still--I was like, "I know I can do this. Just something's not right, or I just need to work a little harder." After--by the time I had spent those 2 months back in school in Florida--a lot more candid realization, but it was only through the experiences that I had. And not only was it the fact that I couldn't do it, it was the fact that nothing was the same as I thought it was going to be. I thought all I had to do was go back, get into my old routine, and everything would be the same. But it wasn't, and-- I had a different presence around people. I had--my interactions were different. They were more awkward. You know--I couldn't communicate with individuals the way that I used to. People saw me, and they thought I was okay because I fell in that category of "silent epidemic"--that brain injury that the injuries are more invisible. And they couldn't understand what was wrong with me, but they knew something was wrong. And that shame of being even labeled as the person that I wasn't and--you know--not having those people that I thought would be in my corner in my corner because they didn't understand it. All of those things started to come into play, and all of it together converged at one point and at one time. And that's basically what allowed me to break and say "Okay, you're right. I can't handle this." But I wouldn't do it initially. I knew I couldn't handle it, but it wasn't until my friends initiated it--the friends that I still have to this very day--you know. Because there are a few out there --you know--that will still be your friends. There's a whole bunch that you think that were your friends that won't, and you'll find out at that point. But there are still one or two that were still my friends, and those were the ones that helped save me.
Posted on BrainLine December 2, 2009.
Kelli Williams Gary, PhD, MPH, OTR/L is an assistant professor in the department of occupational therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University. She sustained a severe traumatic brain injury in 1991.
Produced by Vicky Youcha and Brian King, BrainLine.