Headway West Sussex supports the survivors of Acquired Brain Injury, their families, carers and wider circle of support. The group has received £2,846 from Sussex Community Foundation to support their work over the last couple of years. Here is Paul’s story.
“On returning home from four months in hospital, I found myself pretty much left to my own devices in trying to adapt to the changes that had happened to me as a result of my TB meningitis diagnosis. My doctors were satisfied that I was physically healthy, and I had the impression that psychological/emotional problems were of negligible importance.
I was referred to a psychologist after suffering disinhibition but treatment was frustratingly slow. I was having problems at work, problems socially and problems at home. I carried on supported by my family and close friend but, looking back, it felt as though I was walking through a foggy labyrinth.
Then five years after my illness, leaving hospital, I came across Headway and attended my first meeting. Going to this meeting was a game-changing moment for me. Talking with other people who had experienced a similar injury to me, as well as the side effects that come with the package, meant that I felt safe and comfortable. It is difficult to put it into words, but I would say that it is the group support that creates a warm atmosphere and I felt a noticeable boost to my emotional state when I returned home and this stayed with me for the rest of the week.
If I was asked to give two highlights for me in attending the group, two things stick out. The first was the encouragement to invite my wife to a group meeting. My wife never knew me before my ABI so struggled to appreciate my issues with disinhibition, tiredness and especially apathy. A carer in the group sat down with my wife and talked about the challenges they both faced and was able to talk about coping strategies. This has had a really positive affect on Sonia’s understanding of my difficulties.
The second was the mini library that is brought to each meeting. Following ABI, I have read only one book, as my attention span is so minute now. However, I took the chance to select a book and was proud to read the whole book before the next meeting.
In conclusion, I cannot emphasise enough, the positive result of me going to the Headway groups. An ABI can easily result in isolation and, if even for just two hours, a person can feel accepted in understanding company.”