Brain injury, Head injury; often known as ‘the hidden disability,’ yes it’s happened to me. Brain injury has this label, because unlike other disabilities, such as physical injuries, or blindness you can’t always see it at first glance. Whereas if for example you injure yourself physically you can spot someone with a broken leg, by noticing their leg is in a cast and they are using crutches or another aide such a wheelchair; then you can see more clearly that they have injured themselves somehow.
My first experience of a brain injury happened when I was eighteen after being hit by a car as a pedestrian, in 2002. I don’t remember much of it, I was in a coma for a while; my first memories are waking up in hospital feeling frightened and confused.
After nine months of being in hospital, I was discharged and well enough to live with my mother, but I still had not fully recovered and so I attended Headway Surrey, based in Guildford twice a week. Headway was brilliant; they provided activities to help relearn old and new skills, my social circle improved. It was nice to meet people of all ages who had some kind of brain injury.
I left Headway a few years later to pursue a career working with children, which didn’t work out. I fell pregnant in late 2003 and gave birth in May 2004, shortly after Mum died from Cancer.
After my relationship with my daughter’s father collapsed I ended up living rough and taking drugs, which led to a relapse of my brain injury.
I was once again in Hospital, this time in Salisbury in Wiltshire in a brain injury specialist hospital called Glenside Manor.
I was discharged from Glenside Manor in 2010 and placed in a supported house in Horsham, West Sussex. My family supported me and suggested returning to Headway Surrey, as I was now closer to Guildford, than I had been when I was back in Wiltshire.
I met new people and made new friends at Headway Surrey and with the support of Headway staff and volunteers; I was able to find work. I started volunteering at a charity shop in Horsham, before finding paid work with a cleaning agency.
Headway helped me type my C.V provided a reference and helped enable me to get a bus and train pass.
I no longer attend Headway Surrey and yes I do miss it! But we all have to move on at some point and I can’t thank the staff and volunteers at Headway enough.
Happy 2014 everyone!
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