Apr 102015
 

“It’s like you were in jail, got a taste of freedom, and now you’re back in jail.”

   

Apt description of my relationship and communication headaches in North America, I thought. It’s not like this is solely a North American problem or that all North Americans fear communication or trying something new in order to grow closer to others, but given loneliness is apparently the biggest disease here, I’m clearly not the only one so beset.

To help me retain what I had in the UK, my friend there invited me onto WhatsApp so that we could text for free. I’d heard of it, read about it on Twitter, but had had no desire to try it to this point when I personally knew no one on it. I wasn’t far wrong in the latter. Turns out, only six of my contacts were on it, but I digress

So I’m like, OK, I need more social connection in my life, I want to stay in touch with my friend better, I’ll download it. But my brain went: not so fast. Gotta read up on it. What does it mean Facebook owns it? How many decisions will we have to make? I’m tired. Foggetaboutit.

I couldn’t even download the app.

Even when I think I know what I’m going to do, my brain injury, and my kiboshed ability to make even tiny decisions or think through new ideas, gets in the way. It didn’t help that life back here was overwhelming me. I told my friend: I’ll get to it when my brain can handle something new. Then I sighed with frustration.

So when I was talking to my neurodoc about email and smartphones, I lost it. I told him: at least I’m trying. So many with non-injured brains don’t even try. They stay in their little bubbles of this is the only way I’ll communicate even when their profession is about clear and trusting communication, even though their way drains you, even though you cannot speak certain things only write them. I will not bend, they say through their actions while criticizing your (injury-caused) lack of flexibility or stating you just want to have it your own way. No. I want to be able to talk, to relate sans it exhausting me or resulting in me being isolated or unable to express myself to one of my health professionals because I cannot, with my brain injury and personality, pretzel myself into landline-phone-only communication, though I’ve been trying for over a year.

It must be incredibly frustrating for people with weak voices or damaged speech to deal with and receive full therapeutic value from mental health professionals who will only talk on the phone or in person, never mind trying to have social connections like mine who focus on their busy-ness over people (and over themselves ironically) or don’t do text because, well, it’s cold or would require them to have a cell or smartphone. Oy.

Anyway, I was venting all over my biofeedback trainer, who was doing her best not to laugh (yes, it is funny, but really I want to strangle a certain someone), when I told her about WhatsApp. Oh! she exclaimed, I’m on it. Oh. She immediately showed me how it works; then after our session, she worked with me to download the app and helped me make all those little decisions that had stopped me. I would have eventually gotten it done, maybe a week if I was speedy. But with her help, I was on in minutes, chatting with my UK friend!

But the look on her face when she saw I had only six contacts on WhatsApp said it all. Ninety percent of her contacts are on it, apparently. Whoa. In my circle, you’d think the person with the traumatic brain injury would be the last to join, the last to text, not be in the forefront. Apparently not.

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