TBI Hope and Inspiration Magazine
Listen to this post:
I take a firm stance against calling disabled people inspiring on this blog and especially in my work in Criptiques On Film. I bristle when a non-disabled person refers to a disabled person as inspiring. Life after a brain injury is still life. One person’s new routine involves practicing reading a calendar, while another’s involves re-learning how to walk, and another’s involves meditating for anger management, and so on. When someone says, “You’re so inspiring! I could never do that!” bear in mind that you don’t really know you couldn’t do that. Once a new life becomes your everyday existence, you do what you have to do to get by, find accommodations, and hopefully thrive. You might be surprised by how much you can do. After all, it’s not like we expected our brain injuries and set aside a life plan that included rehab and pain. It’s just where life went. So we went along.
Exceptionalism (where you find someone superhuman for doing everyday things) can actually be harmful. It separates us from each other. And even though it feels like a compliment to say, “Wow! I’m so amazed you can do that after a brain injury…” behind it quietly lurks this sentiment, “…because I figured you’d never do anything worthwhile!” People don’t intend to be cruel or rude. I think this happens because the brain injury community is still isolated in society and is ignored in the media. So people just genuinely don’t realize that an injured brain does not equal a useless brain.
I’ve written about another kind of inspiration, though not as often. There’s an entire area of inspiration that’s genuinely powerful, fully affirmative, and absolutely critical to our empowerment: peer to peer inspiration. That’s when a peer with brain injury or family member tells their stories, and another peer or family member feels hope, motivation, or relief. This inspiration we cannot and should not have to do without. It’s how we gather the strength to push past society’s lowered expectations for us, raised barriers, and yes, often, the difficulties of impairment.
If you’re looking for that kind of inspiration, please have a look–and several more looks–at the new TBI Hope and Inspiration magazine. Subscriptions are free online. This magazine isn’t accessible for use with screen reading technology. But for people who are accessing the magazine visually, it is a sight for sore eyes. Click the image below to open the magazine pdf.
I’m so honored to have a short piece in the May edition about making films. As a group, we could be banding together, demanding horrible films like “50 First Dates” stop being promoted publicly as a good place to learn about TBI. And as a group and individuals, we can also be making films and demanding others make films to replace that out-dated drivel with new, fresh, honest, and accurate portrayals. Yes, even in fiction and comedy, accuracy is possible. And we deserve it. We deserve to see ourselves represented honestly in the media. To see that would be deeply inspiring to me.