Community Head Injury Resources Drama Club video

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I was talking to someone recently about how “Who Am I To Stop It” features artists with brain injuries. I guess I’m so immersed in brain injury and disability communities that it doesn’t sound like a surprising thing to make a film about. The person looked at me, gave a “huh?” face, and offered “Well, I guess we can all relate to some kind of brain dysfunction at some point!” I gave one of my “yeah, yeah!” responses. Inside, I was thinking, “huh?” myself.

Just the other day, I wrote here about whether viewers have to relate to what they see in a documentary and whether the urge to make your characters so easy to relate to means you ignore their differences and uniqueness. It’s a good thing to relate someone else’s life to our own to gain perspective and understanding. But you don’t have to have everything in common to have empathy and a sense of relation. You could have in common some emotion, sensation, or reaction to different things. But brain dysfunction? I don’t know that we all have that in common!

Of course we all know the inevitable “brain fart,” slip of the tongue, or forgetting someone’s name over and over. Those things are natural. They’re not dysfunction. And they’re most certainly not the same as living with a brain injury. Because even though we brain-injured folks do those things, much more comes with brain injury than having brain farts more often than the average bear. There is stigma, discrimination, loss of relationships, loss of jobs or school opportunities, changes in your body, isolation, often poverty, increased chance of being abused, unending fatigue.

So if you haven’t experienced a brain injury or something similar to it, please don’t fret. Don’t feel obligated to relate to brain injury directly to get to know us, befriend us, and enjoy watching a movie about us. Don’t be frightened that brain injury is so different from your reality that you won’t know how to talk with us. Because we’re still people, regular folks. Brain injury is one part of life experience for some of us. We have many other parts.

The Drama Club over at Toronto’s Community Head Injury Resource Services (CHIRS) made an outstanding music video that gets at what I’m saying here. The song is called “A Work In Progress.” You might very well be able to relate to many things they say about gratitude or needing help sometimes. And some things you won’t relate to directly. No worries. Enjoy taking in what these folks have to say.

The first couple times I watched it, I had so much trouble listening to the lyrics and reading the signs folks are holding. So I made Closed Captions for the CHIRS folks to add to the video. They came out a little funky in spacing, but they work. You can watch with them for the lyrics and then turn them off so you can read the signs. That’s how I’m doing it. Click on the little “YouTube” button at the bottom of the video screen. That way you watch it on YouTube instead of my blog. Once you’re on YouTube, you see the “CC” icon on the bottom of the screen. Click to show the lyrics!

The video is all kinds of awesome and amazing. Please watch it as many times as you need to get all the lyrics and the signs. See if there are things you can relate to, of course. But give yourself the space to also think about the things that you don’t have in common, what makes you and each of these people and their situations unique.