When I say the word ‘family’ to you, what is it that comes to mind?
According to the reliable Internet search engine, ‘family’ is ‘a group of people related by blood or marriage.’
Although family can be explained quite simply, it was not until my later years that I realised the actual importance of family. Perhaps it was going through something so life changing that helped me to understand their worth, or maybe it was just something to do with maturing. Whatever it was, I am thankful that I can finally grasp just what family is, and just how integral a role they play in my life.
Anyone that has had to go through Encephalitis, or something similar, will probably share a similar view. Family are the ones that are there for you, no matter what.
One component that comes hand in hand with having a brain injury is that you have to learn to rely on other people for help. It can be difficult to give up your old responsibilities and let someone else take over. Encephalitis also makes people change, they are no longer the person that you once knew, and that can put a huge strain on relationships.
Although it may sound cliché, going through something like Encephalitis truly shows you who your real friends are.
That being said, Encephalitis also makes you realise just how important family is. I’m not sure if it’s because having a brain injury makes you more reliant on your parents, whatever age you are, or something else. But whatever it is, Encephalitis makes you appreciate family.
People get fed up of us talking about our problems all the time. They don’t want us to link everything they say to our past experiences. They don’t want to know what new medications we are taking or how we are worried about a relapse. People just don’t want to know.
That, to me, is why the Encephalitis Family weekend is so important, because there we are all family. We have all been through something and can speak to each other freely, we have all had to pick ourselves up and start again, and most importantly, we have all realised how fragile life is, and the importance of living each day as if it is your last.
Spending time with other people that understand what you have been through and the struggles that you have each and everyday is something that cannot be measured. It is at the Encephalitis Family weekend that I realised that I am not alone. It was where I realised that I did not have just one family. I have two.
My second family are the only other place that I feel at home.
So I suppose, personally, family means those people that I can be ‘me’ around. Those people that I can talk to about Encephalitis to until I’m blue in the face. Those people that ‘get me’.
My encephalitis family is my second family. My place that I can call home.