If you missed it, here is Part 1 of my series, “My Delayed Recovery”. In here I talked about my brain injury, how I acquired it and how it affected my ability to work and cope with life, affected my entire family, my relationships and everything else important in my life.
“Everything will get back to normal”
After my operation, because I could still walk, talk and looked the same, I was treated by everyone in the same way as before. I knew how lucky I was to have come through the operation, but was confused and memory was hard. I had a problem with balance, but when I went for my final discharge from Oxford, I saw a registrar who told me that everything would get back to normal (as I had no visible signs of problems).
So I was convinced, although at that time it was what I needed to hear, I would be the normal person I was before. As I went through time I didn’t go to see the doctor unless I had major problems.
“Things didn’t improve. I couldn’t cope with my children on my own…”
I had a mental breakdown as things didn’t improve since I was told they would. I disappeared without telling anyone where I was and ended up staying in a place in Cornwall from September, over Christmas until the following May. The only people who knew anything were my family, whom I told where I was in November and kept in contact with them. My husband brought my children to see me in the May for the night. We did that for a few weeks and then I came home. I couldn’t cope with them on my own…
Eventually, a doctor was called and he was going to have me sectioned but gave me a lifeline by going to see a neuropsychologist who established that I had an ABI. From there I went to the original Brain Injury Centre (BIC) in Worcester and met through them Headway Worcestershire (at the time Headway Worcester Trust), who helped me into employment as I mentioned in the first post.
“I was still convinced I was going to become ‘normal'”
Even at that time, I wasn’t able to express my issues as I was still convinced I was going to become ‘normal’ as I was told originally, and covered this by laughing and joking and making out I was able to cope. I passed through BIC with flying colours and 6 of us graduated. I still kept going to the group as I thought it may help me find ‘me’ but it didn’t. I left.
“I was still trying to be my old self”
By this time I had no contact with Headway as I felt I was able to cope. After a few years of nothing improving (in actual fact, it was getting worse), I was able to return to Headway in Malvern, where at the time they were managing some housing options. I stayed a while and then left. Again I tried getting on with life and I was still trying to be my old self by not putting myself into situations I knew I couldn’t cope with. That way I felt I could win.
I went in and out of depression but covered it by withdrawing from people and allowing things to go as “normal” but still laughing and joking around people. I then returned to Headway at Worcester for a short period but still felt it hard to cope as there were too many people for me in a small place. (I mentioned before that I find it hard to cope with crowds). I then moved into sheltered accommodation 18 months ago. It is for older people, but has been amazing for me.
“My family were astounded”
I was then put in touch with Headway again and was able to see a counsellor on a weekly basis and gosh! – what a change in me. I began walking alone, outside and talking to people, and my daughter eventually managed to get me to go out with her and her husband’s family, then Worcester Carnival came along and I dressed up, along with my granddaughter as an Oompah Loompah (haha!). My family were astounded that I even agreed to do it.
“My life has changed over the last 12 months through asking my doctor to refer me to Headway”
I then joined a walking group for people with lung and cardiac conditions and began doing newsletters and publicity for them. I write for them, I play bingo with the others in the home, I do bowling and now have contact with Fortis Living (housing) where I am going to be learning how to use various computer programmes. My life has changed over the last 12 months through asking my doctor to refer me to Headway.
I am now learning to be the person who I should have been encouraged to be 24 years ago. ME the REAL ME as I am now, not who I was.
About the Author
“Hi. I am Liz and have struggled with acceptance of my brain injury for over 20 years. I’m wishing to share my story as I am sure many people also go through similar problems. I am going to do this in a series of posts; it is the hardest, yet most important thing that I have ever done.”