I’m Done Apologizing for My Brain Injury

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In a typical day, there are two words I utter more frequently than any others: “I’m sorry.” Sorry I’m taking so long, sorry I need help, sorry I’m an inconvenience. I have hemiparesis with muscle spasms from a brain injury. It’s not noticeable to most people, but fine motor tasks are extremely difficult for me.

A few days ago I went to get fingerprinted for my new job. The technician said to start with my right thumb and press all of my fingers onto the scanner. When I didn’t move quickly enough, she repeated the instructions. I could tell she was getting irritated when she started to tell me for a third time, and I was too flustered to say anything but “Stop.” Breathe. Breathe. I explained briefly that it was hard for me, and told her how she could help. After awkwardly finishing the prints, the tech asked how I got the muscle problems, and I told her. She tried to make chit-chat.

This exchange is basically my nightmare, and I get to experience it on a regular basis. People get irritated when I don’t move as quickly as they think I should, or have trouble with a seemingly easy task, or forget things within seconds. Usually I am able to laugh it off before the situation gets (too) awkward. Regardless of the outcome, it always elicits varying degrees of the same response in me: panic. What amounts to an awkward 15 minutes for others is a constant sense of dread for me.

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Is it my responsibility to notify people of the possible inconveniences caused by my invisible disability? Is the burden on me to make others feel less awkward? The more I think about it, the more I realize I deserve convenience as much as anyone else. I deserve patience and understanding. I live this life every single day, limitations and all. If it irritates you to wait five minutes, imagine my life. I have to wait on myself every minute of every day.

If the situation were reversed, how would I behave? I like to think that I would be patient and kind. If someone else needed accommodations, would I advocate for them? Of course I would. So why do I have such a hard time advocating for myself?

From now on, I’m going to challenge myself to stop apologizing. I will advocate for myself and treat myself with the same respect that I reserve for others. My disorder is invisible, but I’m not. #noapologies #spooniechallenge

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Source:themighty

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