Overcoming the obstacles of living with “an invisible disability.”
A New Path
In October of 2011, Lucas experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that would change the course of his life. While recovering in the hospital, he learned about how his acquired brain injury would affect his life. In the early days, he struggled with focusing and anxiety, and has spent years working on and improving those symptoms.
“Sometimes I didn’t want to disclose my injury because I did not want to be defined by it”, Lucas shared.
In the time following his accident, he was not ready for the help that was there for him, but his constant determination and drive have helped him get through those challenging days and accept the help that surrounds him.
Lucas discovered AIM through a family connection, where he learned about the DOH TBI Waiver and STRIVE Programs. The program services are designed to help people who have experienced a Traumatic Brain Injury live a life of greater independence, enhance social opportunities and community involvement, and have good overall health and wellbeing. The STRIVE Program offers day services to assist people in achieving their desired personal outcomes while also offering unique workshops and socialization (financial literacy, nutrition, tech literacy, etc.).
In the beginning of 2023, Lucas was hired as a staff member in the TBI Waiver Program and has quickly emerged as a peer advocate for his fellow participants that have also experienced a TBI.
Lucas said he enjoys helping others by sharing his own experiences. “It feels good to help people and make suggestions of what to do.” Lucas meets his peers in the program, and they take trips in the community together, helping each other build their confidence and opportunities. He also helps with the TBI support group, where he shares his own perspective. He offers tips to those struggling and is an encouraging and helpful peer advocate. The goal for Lucas is to take over leading these support group meetings. Lucas says that things are going well for him, and he is excited about his future.
Growth & Guidance
Lucas’ family and friends have helped him overcome difficult times, and he finds that working in the TBI Waiver Program is a great thing for his continued growth. “I feel like life has given me a lot of obstacles, but I am continuing to overcome them. I am focusing on my health and keeping my brain active. I want to go back to school and study science and anthropology.” He wants others to know that “…not everyone is always going to be supportive, and relationships change, but those meant to be in your life will stay”.
Lucas said, “I used to feel anxious in public and not understood in social situations because of my ‘invisible disability’. Today, I am more comfortable asking for help, and I am no longer ashamed or afraid. My advice to those experiencing a brain injury”, he shared, “is that, generally people are more understanding than you think. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.” He wants people to know that they should not give up hope.
Lucas looks to his community with hope for more understanding and inclusion surrounding people who have an acquired brain injury. He hopes to help our community to learn to be more accommodating and wants to help people find a network of support. He does not want his brain injury to define him or others.
“I want to travel, I want to live on my own, I want my own family. The trajectory I was going without AIM was not going to make this happen.”
For those who have recently experienced a TBI, Lucas said he wants them “…not to be afraid to ask for help or support. There are people who can and want to help”.