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November 03, 2010 - Image 1

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2010-11-03

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8B The Statement // Wednesday, November 3, 2010


have a mental disability. I acquired
it four years ago in a car crash. It's
a big deal.
I could tell you the story of the
crash, describe my 40-day hospital
experience (only two weeks of which
I remember) or the lengthy rehab that
followed. I could describe the experi-
ence of re-entering life and school with
a traumatic brain injury, of adjusting to
being on the other side of the spectrum
in school - from advanced to remedi-
al - and of the gains and losses I had
because of the injury.
I could talk about how slim my
chances were of even surviving, let
alone being able to function as a normal
human being. I could talk about how a
combination of my willpower and the
love and help I received from others has
gotten me this far.
That story would likely touch your
heart; more religious people have seen
my story as proof that there is a higher
power that loves and forgives us and
wants us to survive - something I

don't necessarily dispu
it would be more produ
on the present, on what
this disability now, here
what I think that you.
non-disabled person sho
It has been almost ex
since the accident, w
in October of my senio
school. And thoughI
remarkably well, I still
the lasting effects on a
short term memory is
means that if I want to
thing I have to write it d
forgets things; I simply
sistently, and so the de
write things down must
Other symptoms in
stress threshold, frequ
inability to deal with d
a generally inconsistent
functionality (I have "g
and "bad brain days").
overwhelming to be a
people at once, due to t

a curse. Invisible disabilities require
consistent awareness on the part of the
person carrying them, constant judg-
ment of when it is appropriate or neces-
0) U R Y\ A RS i\sary to disclose the problem. "Hello, my
name is Anna and I have a disability"
might seem like an absurd introduction,
but sometimes I think that introducing
myself that way would be easiest.
It takes a while to learn how to inter-
act with others after getting a traumatic
te. But I think things that battle for my attention. My brain injury. Telling people I meet about
ictive if I focus directional memory is virtually non- my injury early on can be better than
life is like with existent; the other day I forgot my plan- waiting until I mess up in some way -
at U of M, and ner with the room number of a class I showing them rather than telling them
as a (probably) had been going to twice a week for more how broken I am. Then again, getting
culd know. than three weeks and I walked into two to know people without them knowing
actly four years wrong lecture halls looking for the about the brain injury can feel liberat-
hich occurred class. That example was a bit extreme, ing, like a game to see how far I can go
cr year of high without letting it
I've recovered I would lke for people to fe f ree become apparent.
I struggle with I usually do give
daily basis: my to laugh at my ridiculous behavior, in and disclose my
broken, which 'ccondition eventu-
remember any- for my disability not to be the ele - ally, often in an
own. Everyone attempt to explain
do it more con- phant in the room" myself after I've
tail in which I become sheepish
be immaculate. over something I've
clude -a lower- but the humiliation of routinely walk- said or done; I can blame the disabil-
ent fatigue, an ing into wrong classrooms gets a bit tir- ity, rather than myself. It's a tug of war
istractions and ing. On the other hand, there are always between my pride and my resistance to
level of mental interesting tidbits of information to being labeled "disabled."
ood brain days" pick up in wrong classrooms. It's all a In reality, there is no way I can know
Sometimes it's matter of perspective, right? how others might respond after learn-
round a lot of My mental disability is notoutwardly ing about my experience. Having a
the diversity of apparent, which is both a blessing and faulty short-term memory can be pretty

laughable at times, especially when it
causes ridiculous repetitions or adven-
tures getting lost and found. I would
like for people to feel free to laugh at
my ridiculous behavior, for my disabil-
ity not to be the elephant in the room
people are too polite to react to.
Sometimes I think that acquiring
the disability has made me into a more
balanced, focused person. I have medi-
cal evidence to reinforce and identify
my struggles, and sometimes I think
it must be difficult not having doctors
around to tell you what your cognitive
problems are. I don't want to be "nor-
mal," but I do want my differences to
be understood. I think that's how many
people feel, regardless of race, gender,
eye color, favorite type of music or dis-
The moral of the story: drive safely.
Be nice to the students who mistakenly
walk into your lecture halfway through
- they might have a disability. And
don't be shocked when "normal" people
disclose personal information identify-
ing them as different.
I can't speak for the entire disabled
community; we all have our own prob-
lems, including non-disabled students.
It's just harder for those of us with dis-
abilities to talk about certain problems;
some issues require long explanations
with lengthy background stories to be
properly understood.
Anna Clements is an LSA junior.

From Page 5B
studying the sidewalk chalk grac-
ing the Diag, there are still pro-life
messages among the student-group
advertisements, College Republican
fliers are taped to the cement post-
ing cylinders and students have been
knocking on doors campaigning for
Rick Snyder.
"There are definitely conservative
people here," Janisse said. "It seems
like everyone at least is pretty sensible
about why they hold the views that
they hold, and besides some people
shouting out on the Diag occasion-
ally, it seems like people are at least
respectful, even if they disagree."
Koziara says that people are mostly
just curious when finding out he's a
"You get a lot of looks for wearing
a Michigan Republicans shirt around
campus, more so disbelief than any-
thing else," he said.. "There's a little
bit of prejudice here and there. I
think that happens both ways, pri-
marily directed at Republicans
because this is a college campus.
There's a lot more people who are
willing nowadays, I think, to engage
in conversation about it when they

find out I'm a Republican ... which I
think is really great, because they're
open to new ideas."
Still, Bertrand recognizes the lack
of compromise and productive dis-
course in the government and under-
stands that it could create larger
issues for Michigan residents if the
legislators don't start working togeth-
er for their constituents.
"We're very divided. If you look at
the Michigan state legislators, it's a
complete deadlock and nothing gets
done becauwse of it," she said. "That
might be something Stewart was try-
ing to foreshadow. Just saying, 'Look
at what's going to happen."'
The turnout at the rally shows that
there's a large population frustrated
by this division between liberals and
conservatives. Still, this protest was
surprisingly patriotic. There was
no doubt of- the participants' love of
America. They just want their country
to work properly.
"We're not the America that the
media portrays us to be," Janisse said.
"Even though it seems like we all dis-
agree on alot of things, there's no rea-
son we can't compromise to get things
done, because we do it every day in
small situations and large."

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