A Life of Lockdown – ABI Week 2021
Over the last year, many of us have experienced the impact of lockdown. Being isolated from our family and friends has a negative impact on our mental health and motivation. Knowing lockdown is only for a limited time, provides some light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, many people with acquired brain injury, cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. It feels like they are experiencing a life of lockdown.
Coping During Lockdown
Coping is easier when you can still talk to friends and family over social media, telephone, or the internet. But imagine if you have problems with speech, cognition, or memory. Or if there are no longer any friends out there to support you.
Social Isolation After and Acquired Brain Injury
For many people, with an acquired brain injury, their ability to socialise is impeded by the effects of their brain injury. It is difficult for friends and family to understand this when, from the outside, there is no sign of physical injury.
A 2018 Headway study into the effect of brain injury on relationships found that 69% of brain injury survivors reported breakdowns in their friendships after brain injury. This leads to social isolation and many survivors will experience what feels like a life of lockdown.
‘A life of lockdown’ is the theme for this year’s Action for Brain Injury Week. The focus is on social isolation after brain injury and how this has been made worse by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Effects of Acquired Brain Injury
Brain injury can affect memory, mood, information processing, or speech. It can leave people lacking the confidence to interact with society and have a serious effect on mental health. Conor Summerfield explains how Headway Essex helped him to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I wanted to let you know how Headway Essex and their support literally saved my life.
In October 2013 I suffered a massive TBI as a result of an assault. I was in a coma for 6 weeks where I underwent a craniotomy to relieve the swelling and drain a subdural hematoma.
Against all odds, I regained consciousness and went into a Neurological Rehabilitation Unit to help me learn how to walk, talk, and to help with severe short-term memory loss.
I stayed at the Unit for 6 months which undoubtedly helped me regain some sort of life.
My World Had Become Much Smaller
However, when I came out of this ‘cocoon’ into the real world, my world in fact had become so much smaller. Most of my friends had moved on and I felt as though my life as it was, was pointless.
Finding Headway Essex
My mum found out about Headway Essex which has proved to be a life-changer for me.
I have attended support group meetings with other people that have similar brain injuries, these meetings are invaluable to me as I can talk to others ‘who get it’.
When lockdown stopped these meetings I attended Brain Injury and Me meetings via Zoom, the guest speakers that Headway arranged spoke about fatigue, memory loss, anxiety, all subjects that I suffer from on a daily basis.
I suffer from anxiety and depression as a result of my injury. My Support Worker from Headway Essex arranged for me to have a one-to-one Zoom meeting with him. These meetings have helped me to understand my feelings and put coping mechanisms in place.
If Headway Essex wasn’t here I don’t know where I would have turned, I really don’t know where I would be today. There is nothing else around that supports Life after Brain Injury.
Headway Essex for me has made me feel my life as it is now can be good and is worthwhile. I can never thank them enough.”
Headway Essex is Here to Help
At Headway Essex we provide a safe and supported environment for people to understand more about their brain injury and how it is affecting their life and relationships.
We provide practical support and advice to the individual and their family to address the issues they are facing. We also provide the opportunity to meet others in a similar situation, to give and receive peer support and make new friends.