Challenges – by Mark Koning

mark_koningAs a brain injury survivor I have dealt with my share of barriers to overcome and in most part I feel that I have managed to triumphantly get through, but to say that, or think that, my struggles have all together disappeared, would be incorrect. Just because I was the age of six when the viral infection spread throughout my brain and it has now been more than thirty years since, does not mean I do not encounter anymore related challenges. Just because I look and speak a certain way does not mean the brain injury is gone. Just because of the work that I do does not mean I do not require certain accommodations or guidance.

Brain injury is not a surface disability, meaning that just because you don’t “see it” does not mean it isn’t there. So regardless of the fatigue I deal with, the inability to easily retain information, the weight loss, the various degrees of anxiety, depression and frustration, the headaches, etc…; I’d say that my biggest challenge is other people not seeing and therefore not believing.

I was never “officially” diagnosed until my early thirties, and growing up, going through school, not understanding why? Why the challenges? It was hard.

But, like I said in my opening, I’ve overcome a lot. I continue to struggle (not as much) and I will continue to overcome. My challenges, I think, have led the way to my greatest education. They may even be related to some of my greatest assets. I suppose it is all about perspective. But being given that diagnosis, even late in life, has elevated me to another level. Because I know who I am and I’m comfortable with that, I can move forward. I feel empowered to meet my challenges head on, and if others cannot accept that, maybe that is their own challenge to overcome.