Emotions and mental well-being frequently are overlooked in people with communication & cognitive disorders due to brain injury, stroke, or learning disorders. Although language and cognition certainly aren’t tangible, they are more easily recognized as areas of weakness, and are much more easily quantified, such as: “Bob speaks in sentences that have an average length of 2 words.” “Janie is able to retain a new fact for 2 minutes after first hearing it.”
It’s harder to quantify – and often, based on society’s generalizations, harder to understand and deal with – emotional and mental well-being status. And this will definitely be impacted after the diagnosis or acquisition of a communication or cognitive disorder. And it’s not just the person with the disorder. It affects the wife, the husband, the children, the parents, the grandparents, the friends — all caregivers.
It’s too bad that we don’t talk more openly about emotional well-being
So often mental health issues go hand in hand with language and cognitive difficulties. So many children with Autism also have significant struggles with anxiety, and many adults who are post-stroke who struggle with depression. Communication & cognitive disorders affect, and sometimes even take away, something that is so inherent to our existence as human beings – our ability to interact with others. So it seems obvious that our emotional well-being would be affected as a result.
So what can we do about it?
The first step is just thinking about it – and letting yourself admit that your emotional well-being isn’t where you deserve for it be – and that is okay. It is to be expected. You are not doing anything wrong.
- Am I constantly stressed?
- Do I find the same things joyful that I used to?
- How are the relationships with others in my life?
- Have I come to terms with my new trajectory?
- Am I constantly tired? (this may have some physical questions to follow up on as well)
(Note: These questions apply to patients and caregivers.)
After you’ve thought through what is and isn’t working for you emotionally, reach out to a mental health professional who has experience working with persons in your situation. Often you can see a social worker or family therapist, or a psychologist, or a psychiatrist who specializes in working with people with Aphasia or brain injury, families with children with Autism, or any other number of communication & cognitive disorders. That mental health professional will guide you in next steps.
Find comfort in the company of others
It can be very empowering. There are support groups throughout the country for a variety of disorders, and there are many groups on social networking sites like Facebook that can provide a stand-in in the absence of in-person contact. Reach out – there are others in your same situation who are aching to support you as others supported them.
Take a moment today for a mental health check-in today – and if you have questions, take action and seek out a mental health professional.