My Invisible Disability
My name is Hannah, and I’ve worked as Causeway’s Fundraising Coordinator for the past two years and a half years.
When I was 17, I sustained a concussion. At the time, the doctors told me that it was mild. They didn’t even warn me of post-concussion syndrome or additional symptoms I could experience over the next few days and weeks. When I returned to school the following Monday, I realized I couldn’t read, which persisted for two months.
At 25, I can read again, but I still have post-concussion syndrome. It has consistently impacted almost every aspect of my life. Some of my symptoms include depression and anxiety, daily headaches, migraines that can last for weeks if not treated early, difficulty concentrating and memory issues. I’ve also lost a lot of my sense of smell… but that’s not always a bad thing.
These side-effects have affected school, work and relationships. The biggest problem being others don’t see how I’m struggling daily. They don’t see that I’m working through a splitting headache, or they get frustrated when I’m forgetful and ask them to repeat something. Everyone assumes I’m “fine” because I look like it. But I’m not, and my brain works a little differently.
And that’s okay.
Over the years, I’ve learned different tactics and coping mechanisms to help particular symptoms. I now know the specific accommodations that I need to succeed both in school and in the workplace. None of this would have been possible without a supportive environment, filled with understanding teachers, bosses and peers.
I love working for Causeway because I understand what it’s like for people to underestimate your potential. I get to use my passion for fundraising and storytelling to help others struggling with barriers to employment, such as invisible disabilities. As one of the staff who interviews and writes client stories, it’s incredibly uplifting to see the difference Causeway’s support makes in clients’ lives. You can physically see clients light up when they talk about the obstacles they’ve overcome and their goals for the future. I love being able to share that with the community.
Eight years later, I can assume my post-concussion syndrome will always be part of my life. But it doesn’t mean I can’t be successful or accomplish new things. And that goes for everyone with an invisible, or visible, disability.
Having a job creates a sense of pride and purpose, and connects you to your community. You shouldn’t have that taken away from you because someone else doesn’t see your value. Work, regardless of what others’ opinions of you – because you’re going to prove them wrong anyways with your skills, passion, and heart.