Should I Disclose My Acquired Brain Injury? - Part 4
"I'm not coming back to work" is not cocktail party talk!
In this final installment of this blog series on the difficulties of disclosing an acquired brain injury, you will meet Matt (whose name and details have been modified). Matt has had a hard time coming up with what to say when asked when he will be returning to work.
Matt’s co-workers know about his Acquired Brain Injury – in fact, they understand it well, as they are healthcare providers. Following his brain injury, when he attended social functions, he became very worried about his co-workers asking when he was coming back to work. This question came up several times and left Matt stumped. Matt knew that he was not able to return to his demanding job in healthcare. He no longer had his previously strong communication skills which had allowed him to perform his job at the level that was needed, but Matt was not ready to disclose, “I’m not returning”. Within his treatment sessions we developed the phrase, “that’s up to my doctors” as a short-term response until he is ready to share that he wouldn’t be returning.
The phrase “it’s up to my doctors” worked well at cocktail and dinner parties. He felt better about being able to share the truth in more private situations where he didn’t have to be in the spotlight about something that was emotionally difficult for him, and possibly the other party-goers.
Final thoughts on disclosing your brain injury
Within this Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series, you met Allana – who struggled with balancing the amount of information to share with potential romantic partners online; Malek – who found ways to skirt the issues related to his injuries and trauma; Melanie – who chose not to disclose her situation to her teachers; and now Matt who found an easy way to delay sharing details until a more private moment.
These four examples show some of the many different issues that influence whether and how to disclose a brain injury. If you have difficulty communicating due to a brain injury or other condition, a Speech-Language Pathologist can help you to find the answers to your questions about sharing your story with others.
There is no right way to deal with this delicate topic. You are an individual with a unique style of communicating and a unique comfort level with sharing your personal information. Let us work with you to figure out what works best in your particular situation.
Are you debating with yourself about whether to disclose your brain injury (or another injury/illness) to others?
Bobi Tychynski Shimoda is a Speech-Language Pathologist with more than a decade of experience working with neurological communication and swallowing disorders. She has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient rehab, acute care, community, and private practise. She is highly skilled in assessment, and innovative treatment approaches.