I failed at “recovery” and spent 22 years trying to be the “normal” person that I was before and as a consequence, everything went to pot… This last update on my delayed recovery looks specifically at one of the most overlooked aspects of my life after brain injury… Accommodation!
“The last 18 months have been the true healer”
I have looked back over the years recently and thought a lot about this…. The only thing that I can say is that it is only over the last 18 months that my confidence has been raised. There are a number of reasons, but I think the main reason, strangely enough, has to do with my living arrangements.
Looking back, had I been given the chance of short-term accommodation on my own, with support for me, I could have been given the right direction to cope with my own issues first, in order so that I could have then progressed to support with my children. I found it hard to deal with my kid’s issues and that took a toll on me and my family’s life.
“I blamed myself for my children”
I have lived all these years believing that I am responsible for the problems that my children have. In the early years of my injury, I was left to try and cope with 3 daughters and I struggled. I explained in my first post the sort of issues I faced around them. My 5 year old was the only one that I kept with me. Because of this, she took over and she looked after me.
Both my middle and eldest daughter have mental health issues that I’d rather not go into too much detail about, particularly because I’ve been told these issues can often be caused by a traumatic experience in childhood. Well, they certainly had that, from a ‘normal’ mom to a stranger in her body. Overnight must have been devastating for them… and my youngest daughter has been so, lucky as she is okay, she has never mollycoddled me, just encouraged me to try and be who I am and cope with how I am now.
“Knowing there’s someone ready to act in case of an emergency is settling.”
The sheltered housing I moved into not that long ago has 24 hour on-site warden (support worker); it is mainly that the residents are over 70, but it so quiet. I’ve explained in that first post that I cannot deal with large groups of people and agitation. I had a problem and fear being around groups of people, something I had successfully covered up by not putting myself into that situation. We have an emergency cord in every room, so psychologically, I know that should I have an emergency, someone will be there within minutes and that is settling.
There is no-one in and out of the flat. If I want to meet with others, I can go to the big house (a meeting area) and I have started now to do that too… Talking of progress! We all met up at Xmas and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They are all younger than me and call me mom from the start. I have gone into a pub on my own to wait for my daughter, I could never have done that before all of this.
At the time when my counsellor from Headway started with me, I wasn’t cooking, and had no self-confidence. By the last time I saw her, I was cooking and meeting people as well as starting going to the walking group that again has an average age of 75. I also go out with my daughter and even went away with her for a weekend with total strangers, loved it and she left me with them and my grandchildren and I made some very good friends. Last September I did my first trip on a Train in more than a decade… I was petrified but I did it. Before that I spent a whole day amongst people at a Headway fundraiser in Worcester. It was worth it! I spent it with my daughter and granddaughter!
“People see ME, the REAL me.”
So yes, from the beginning of going into accommodation that suited my problems, through to a few months of home counselling from Headway, to my walking group all in 18 months… people don’t recognise me now… they see ME, the REAL me.
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. If just one person is helped by this, knowing they are not alone, then it will be worth it.”