This month I’d like to highlight isolation. To help, I’ve the story of Mike. Mike is not a real person, but he is inspired by several real people – people living with the social effects of brain injury as well as cognitive.
What is Isolation?
The state of being separated from someone and/or something else. A “something” might be our community, which means being separated from lots of people. “Community” also implies, by its own definition, that those lots of people are helpful to each other.
So isolation can also mean ending up without help.
Chains of Isolation
- Invisible cognitive problems
- Communication difficulties
- Emotional difficulties
- Poor access to work
- Reduced daily living skills
- Relationship strains
- Feeling sidelined
On the theme of computers and social skills, here‘s a “Little Britain” sketch I thought you might like before reading about “Mike”. Enjoy!
One Saturday morning, Mike decided to visit his bank. He had to cancel a direct debit. Not feeling confident, he had it in his head that a staff member would help from across the counter or in one of the side offices.
A reminder on his mobile three hours before the bank closed prompted him why he needed to get up in good time. (Being a Saturday Mike’s bank closed early.)
He arrived at the bank and stood in line to be seen. As he waited, a member of staff approached him. She had an ipad in one hand and a cheerful greeting for him. Before he could answer she asked if Mike banked on line. She told him that if he did, he need not have made the journey into town.
Mike felt awkward. He heard himself say: “I’m not interested. I’m just here to cancel a direct debit. Sorry.”
She carried on regardless. Mike tried to concentrate, but panic rose and her words began to wash over his mind. Anger began to take over from panic. The level of his voice matched the level of his emotion. “Stop!” Embarrassed he apologised. He tried humouring her. “I’m a dinosaur. I don’t get on with technology. I prefer to speak face to face with someone.”
Eventually, Mike felt telling her he had a brain injury was the lesser of evils. He coped better when not having to think about PIN and customer reference numbers, and yet another password. Telling her was his only way out of this situation. He did not like doing it; he worried who else might be listening.
The lady accompanied him to a desk and another member of staff. And even though that member of staff tried to help, her computer would not allow her to authorise the cancellation. In the end, Mike was led into a cubicle with a phone and given a number to ring.
Eventually Mike and the voice at the other end cancelled the direct debit. It had taken the voice several ways to answer Mike’s one last question, but the voice did not mind. The voice belonged to a human whose relative had had a stroke.
Mike was grateful but eager to get home. He felt drained and in no hurry to talk to anyone else that day.
As the “Little Britain” sketch shows, you don’t need to have a brain injury to be frustrated with modern technology. But for those with ABI, the problems can double.
Take care for now.