Friday, April 20, 2012

Learning About My Brain, and Pride, in Appalachia

Last week I spent a couple of days working on an Appalachia Service Project (ASP) trip in Jonesville, Virginia. ASP is all about getting folks together to help out folks in Appalachia who, for all sorts of reasons, have found themselves living in substandard housing and can’t fix it up themselves. ASP facilitates teams who come from all over the country to fix up their houses to make them warmer, drier and safer.

This was my fourth ASP trip, and we worked on a house that truly needed fixing up. The home owner was, physically, stronger than me, but needed help. He knew he needed help, applied for help and now has gotten a series of ASP work teams to help him out. In the not too distance future, he’s going to have a house that’s not only warmer, drier and safer, it’ll also be much nicer to live in.

His parents, whose house needs even more help than his does, have not yet applied for help.  And, as I understand it, their pride is the key roadblock.

I think there’s a lesson here for those of us that need cognitive help. Admitting that you need help, that something’s wrong and it’s beyond your own power to fix it, is hard…especially when it’s your brain that needs fixin’.

In many ways I think that Richard Bach was right when he wrote that “The worst lies we tell are the lies we tell ourselves.” 

The lie I told myself, before I found out that I had a brain tumor, was that I didn’t have a eyesight problem…even though I kept walking into the island in the kitchen at full throttle; scraped the car against the garage; and made my wife shudder when I came too close to other cars while driving.

I needed to swallow my pride and find out what was wrong…doing so was my first step to fixin’ my own personal house.

I now have a different view on all this. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help or admitting that you’re not “normal” anymore. There is something wrong in pretending that there’s nothing wrong.

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