Colour5K running tips for beginners

With only weeks to go until the Headway Essex Colour5K (29 June to be precise!) we appreciate that the Colour5K could be the first time you’ve run 5km in a while or ever! So, we’ve pulled together a few handy tips to help you prepare.

Getting you started

Don’t worry about how fast you can run; just remember the Colour5K is all about having fun with colour!
But, if you are looking to improve your endurance, you’ll need to build on your aerobic base first. We’re quite a fan of the NHS Couch to 5K plan, which is great run/walk routine that gradually builds-up your ability to run a 5K. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never run before or if you just want to become more active, the plan is a free and easy way of preparing ahead of the day!

You could also participate in your local parkrun, these are free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the country. For example, there’s a great one at Colchester Castle Park. As with the Colour5K, everyone is encouraged to join in and run at their own pace. You will need to register first though at http://www.parkrun.org.uk/register/form/

Your pre-Colour5K routine

On the day itself, Personal Trainer Matt Brinkley, will be leading all our wonderful Colour5K participants through a good warm-up routine. But, in preparing to run 5K ahead of the event, what warm-up exercises should you be introducing?
You’ll want to start introducing dynamic stretches before you run, including walking lunges, high knees to chest and straight-leg kicks to really stretch those hamstrings. Why is this so important? Well, it can significantly reduce the likelihood of an injury and strengthen your muscles. Stretching should last for around 10 minutes, after which you can either start with a brisk walk or a comfortable jogging pace, depending on your current fitness level.
Of course, you might want to walk the Colour5K, which is absolutely fine, but you’ll still want to do some stretching before you set off!
Don’t forget, it’s equally as important to stretch after your run. This NHS blog on how to stretch after a run has some fantastic images to show you how to do each stretch.

Buying the right gear

If you’re not a regular runner, you could always borrow some running gear, or just wear some loose cotton shorts or trousers and trainers.
Don’t forget though, at the Colour5K, you’ll get absolutely covered in coloured powder paint! But, no need to worry, as we provide a bright white Colour5K T-Shirt (in a variety of sizes) that’s waiting to be showered in colour! And best of all, it’s yours to keep…
The best tip of all though, is to enjoy it! We look forward to seeing you there and giving you your vibrant Colour5K medal as you cross the finish line.

If you haven’t already booked your place, register today at www.colour5k.co.uk

The Colour5K, an event not to be missed!

The Colour5K, an event not to be missed!


For the 7th year in a row Headway Essex will be hosting the Colour5K on Saturday 29th June 2019. This year we are thrilled to have Attwells Solicitors as our event sponsor.

Whether you’re a casual walker or regular runner, want some fun or just want to raise money for charity, you will love this event. Runners come from all different backgrounds and have one thing in common; they love fun!

If running is not for you but you would still like to participate, you can register to become a colour bandit and take on the role of throwing paint at your friends and family.

The Colour5K experience

We spoke to Tony Emms, a trustee of Headway Essex and his daughter Paris, who have been taking part in the Colour5K for several years, about their experience of this event and how they’re preparing for this year.

Tony, who has been running for over 15 years, discovered Headway Essex through taking part in our Colour5K, after his brain operation in 2013. He initially volunteered for Headway Essex in 2015 and just a year later became a trustee. Tony told us what a fun event it is to be involved with. ‘One of our friends came and pushed her baby around in a pram all day just to be a part of this fantastic event!’ Paris added ‘it’s also great to do the Colour5K with friends and family, we always have such a good time and make sure to get plenty of photos on the day.’

We like to ensure our events are unique and memorable for everyone involved, Paris told us how much she ‘loves getting covered in coloured paint, it’s great fun’. Tony added ‘the paint throwing is fun and gives the run another dimension. You look forward to getting round to the next paint colour which are placed at every kilometer.’

Paris spoke to us about how she took part in the London Marathon this year too. ‘The Colour5K will be a great way for me to continue my running with my friends and family and have lots of fun doing it. I would like to try and improve my time for running a 5 kilometer distance and the Colour5K is a great place to start.’ Tony added ‘Paris has inspired me massively by completing the London Marathon so much so that I have applied for next year’s race, we are very proud of her.’

Raise money for a charity close to your heart

The Colour5K is also a great opportunity to raise money for charity. You can have a phenomenal day out participating in Headway Essex’s event and raise money for a charity close to your heart. Paris told us ‘my Dad and I have had fundraising pages before however our styles are slightly different! I used Justgiving and would share it on my Facebook page whereas Dad will email his contacts to let them know. It’s all raising money for a worthy local cause so it’s great we use multiple platforms. Our friends and family are very supportive which is great and there is a clear link to Headway Essex for me through my Dad being a trustee of the charity.’

Book your place

The Colour5K is a great event and one not to be missed. To book your place as a runner or as a colour bandit (and shower your friends and family with colour) visit www.colour5k.co.uk to sign up. If you would like further information on this event please email fundraising@headwayessex.org.uk or call 01206 547616.

We Are Moving…

We Are Moving…


With effect from Tuesday 7th May, the Headway Essex Town Office new address will be 6th Floor Annex, Wellington House 90-92 Butt Road, Colchester, Essex, CO3 3DA.


We are relocating from our premises at 58b Head Street, which has been our home for the last twenty years.


Looking Back


Over the last week, we have been busy packing up our office. It has been very nostalgic looking through files and remembering some amazing events we have put on and some amazing people we have met over the last 20 years. From Roman Romps and 1940s Dances to Atlas Mountain Treks, Pamper Evenings and Fashion Shows, it has been a fantastic trip down memory lane.


On the Move


Between 2nd and 3rd May, e-mail and the office phones at the Town Office will not be available. This effects the Community Support, Finance and Fundraising Teams. For urgent Community Support calls during this period, please contact 07500 751059. Office Phones and e-mails will be operational from Tuesday 7th May.


Looking Forward


We are looking forward to settling into our new home and excited about all the new experiences to come and the people we will meet along the way.


If you would like information about current fundraising events, or want to learn more about our services supporting adults with acquired brain injury and their families, please visit our website www.headwayessex.org.uk

NEW: Social Impact Report 2018/19

NEW: Social Impact Report 2018/19

Our social impact is the expression and quantification of the positive changes we make to the lives of the people we support, which contribute to their overall health and wellbeing. Headway Essex is proud to launch its Social Impact report 2018/19, highlighting the support we provide and the achievements of our clients.

Headway Essex’s vision

Our vision is to see all adults in Essex living with the effects of acquired brain injury have the opportunity to realise their potential and lead a fulfilling life. Our social impact report explains, in plain English, how we are constantly striving to achieve our vision.

For those who are familiar with Headway Essex, they’ll already know that we take people from a place of surviving to thriving and that everyone has their own, unique journey.

Educating people about our approach

This is quite complex for people unfamiliar with Headway Essex’s work to understand. Therefore, we talk openly about the struggles as well as the positive outcomes in the report.

Clients, Bruce and Tara, have very kindly shared their stories within the report to explain what their journey looks like. This immediately helps put brain injury into perspective.

Key achievements

We have also used journey maps to highlight the range of services Headway Essex offers and pulled-out key feedback statistics from those who have exited our services.

We are proud to say:

86% of Headway Centre clients agree that with Headway Essex support, they’ve developed new strategies to cope with their brain injury.

85% of clients who exited our Community Support Service in 2017 said Headway Essex helped them understand the effects of their brain injury on themselves and others.

96% of clients surveyed said Headway Essex supported them through highs and lows

There are many more statistics within the report, which you can download here.

Funding matters

We are proud of our work and our clients. But, as like many charities, we have seen a significant fall in funding from local government and health bodies over the last five years.

In response to this, we have restructured our fundraising team to increase awareness, grow income and develop new fundraising resources. At the same time, we are raising funds to improve the services we deliver and reach more people across the whole of Essex.

The Social Impact Report will greatly assist the fundraising team in explaining to corporate supporters and fundraisers, what impact their efforts will make. It will also greatly assist our service managers in communicating how we help adults living with acquired brain injury.

If you would like to receive a hard copy of our Social Impact Report, or you would like to find out more about how you can support Headway Essex, please contact me; Tracy Wellsted, Fundraising Manager, by e-mail tracy.wellsted@headwayessex.org.uk or by calling  01206 547616.

Arabian Nights Ball – A Night to Remember

Arabian Nights Ball – A Night to Remember


We are still reeling from the success of our Arabian Nights Ball, inspired by Scheherazade’s 1001 Tales. The event raised over £20,000 to help adults with acquired brain injury and their families.

Our guests were treated to a fun packed evening of entertainment and dancing. The event was held on Friday 29 March, at the beautiful Stoke-by-Nayland Hotel of which the staff were very helpful and overall wonderful. Cllr Robert Needham was kindly our MC for the evening.

It was so lovely to see everyone having such a wonderful time and being so generous. We are so grateful to our sponsors, volunteers and guests for making this event such a success.


Impressive Entertainment

In line with the theme, there were some surprises in store. Dean Allen Jones provided the magic on the night to each of our guests both upon their arrival and at their tables and Soluna Dance kept the Arabian night’s theme alive with their performance. Also, everyone enjoyed live music from the impressive band Frisco Monk who kept us dancing all night long.


A Spectacular Auction & Raffle


The event included a raffle and auction kindly conducted by Richard Kemsley. Our guests enjoyed a little friendly competition for our spectacular array of prizes including a weekend for 6 people in a cosy coastguard’s cottage, a flight experience, a golfing break in the luxury Vale Hotel and much, much more!

Our Sponsors


We were lucky to have the support of some amazing sponsors including our main sponsors of the evening; BTMK Injury Solicitors and 42 Bedford Row. Our thanks also goes to Investec Wealth & Investment UK and The Cotswold Group who also supported us with generous sponsorship.

If you would like to know more about Headway Essex events or Sponsorship opportunities, please email fundraising@headwayessex.org.uk


Colchester’s Colour5K 2019 launches with proud new sponsor!

We’re over the moon to announce that Attwells Solicitors will be sponsoring this year’s Colour5K event which will be held once again at Essex Showground on Saturday 29 June 2019.


Attwells new office in Colchester


We were fortunate enough to visit their new office in Colchester this week and meet some of the team who helped launch this year’s event.


Managing Partner, Nick Attwell said, “We are thrilled to be part of the Celebration of Colour with Headway Essex, being an integral part of the community is at the heart of the Attwells’ ethos and by working closely with charities, such as Headway Essex, we are able to support local people.”


Back for the seventh year running


The event which is now in its seventh year, seems to be getting bigger and better, runners will take on a 5 kilometre course and enter 5 colour zones, at every kilometre colour bandits will shower them with different coloured powdered paint until they end up their own work of art! There’ll also be a Kids 1 km Fun Run so the event is open to all ages and ability of runners.


This fun event is great to do with family, friends or colleagues. Runners will leave with paint in their hair and a massive smile on their faces.


At the finish line there is a huge colour extravaganza, where participants get to throw coloured paint at friends, family and anyone who wants to join in the fun!


Have fun and raise money for Headway Essex


Whether you’re a casual walker or regular runner, want some fun or just want to raise money for charity, you will love this event. Runners come from all different backgrounds and have one thing in common; they love fun!


Money raised from the event will go towards providing rehabilitation and support for brain injury survivors and their families and carers in Essex.


The event is also supported by Boot Group who each year donate the use of their field, the Ardleigh Showground.


Sign up today!


Entry is £22 for Adult, £16 Junior and £10 Kids 1 km run, there’s also a family ticket option available for £60 and discounts for teams of 10 or more. For more information and to book a place, visit the Headway Essex website www.headwayessex.org.uk or email: fundraising@headwayessex.org.uk

group discussion

Understanding Stroke

Understanding Stroke

There are around 3,600 stroke admissions to Essex hospitals every year in the UK.  Like all organs, the brain needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to function properly. When a stroke happens the supply of blood to the brain is restricted or stopped and brain cells begin to die. This can lead to and acquired brain injury and sometimes death.

The recent sudden death of actor Luke Perry at the age of 52 is a stark reminder that strokes can affect anyone at any time, regardless of age and lifestyle.

Over a third of Community Support clients have suffered a stroke

At Headway Essex, stroke is by far the largest single cause of brain injury for people who receive our support. Last year 107 people (35%) who used our Community Support Service had suffered a stroke, leaving lasting effects.

How Headway Essex is helping

We see the devastating impact a stroke can have on peoples’ lives affecting both the person who suffered the stroke and their family. At Headway Essex, we work with them to help them to overcome and cope with the impact.

Our wider role is to educate the community on the causes and effects of acquired brain injury and how to reduce the risk.

Reducing the risk of stroke    

Diagnosing and controlling high blood pressure is a key factor to reducing the risk of stroke. According to a report by the British Heart Foundation, it is estimated that there are 5.7 million adults living in the UK with undiagnosed blood pressure.

The most important thing is to get your blood pressure checked by your GP regularly and if you have high blood pressure, follow the advice of your GP to reduce it. As my GP once explained to me, ‘think of it as an insurance policy to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.’

There are also lifestyle tweaks that you can make to naturally reduce your blood pressure or avoid high blood pressure, which include more exercise, a healthy diet and cutting down on your salt intake.

Anyone at any age can make some small changes now that could have a major positive effect on health later on. Stroke admissions to Essex hospitals shows an upwards trend. We would love to see that trend reverse.

Please share this with your friends and family. And if you or a loved one is living with the effects of a stroke, please call our Community Support Team on 01206 768797 for further information on how we can help.


Claire and her children

Parenting with a brain injury

Parenting with a brain injury


“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow”. This quote by Mary Anne Radmacher is one that mum, wife and blogger, Claire Withnall, holds close to her heart.

Why? Since her brain haemorrhage in August 2013, Claire has been striving for a ‘semblance of normality’, which just so happens to be the name of her Facebook blog. Here, we catch up with Claire.


Semblance of normality

Five and a half years ago busy mum, Claire, had a stroke at the age of 29. It was the result of a large brain haemorrhage caused by an Arteriovenous Malformation; a condition she was unknowingly born with.

It has been a long and difficult journey for Claire and her young family, but she is determined not to let her illness define her.

“I am now happily unemployable. I liked being at home anyway. It’s just the boredom I find really difficult. I walk with a walker and I have really bad double vision. This is made a lot better by a coloured contact lens, but that means I can only see out of my left eye. I also really struggle with verbal communication. I can say what I think, but I can’t think or speak as quickly as I used too, and I sound really different. Also, my memory isn’t the same; where as it used to be very good, I now forget things.” Claire explains.

“Going back to how things were before, is important. For me, normality is being a mum and wife” says Claire, who has a busy life looking after her two children aged 7 and 9.

“Of course, things can’t quite be the same; that’s why it’s a semblance. My life is similar to what it was before, but not exactly as it was.” adds Claire.

But the analogy of ‘putting one foot in front of the other’ has stayed with Claire from when she was in the hospital to now.

Having previously enjoyed a career as a real estate solicitor for a top City law-firm before deciding to leave law behind to focus on being a mum, Claire puts a lot of her determination down to the life-choices she made before her injury.

“I push forward because I know I have to. I’ve always pushed myself to achieve and now is no different. But you must be kind to yourself and recognise that some days will be harder than others” she says.

In being kind to herself and her family, Claire and her husband have been creative in solving everyday problems. “My life now is basically identifying practical problems then deciding how to best resolve them!”, which she’s happy to share with others through her blog.


Introducing smart technology

Visiting Claire, it’s clear to see that she’s made good use of technology. As we were speaking, Alexa promptly announced it was time for her to do her 2,000 treadmill steps for the day!

“I could write a book about how to have and use a smart home properly” recalls Claire. Crucially, it has helped give her back her independence and greatly assists her in her role as mum.

In the morning, Alexa prompts Claire’s children four times to start getting ready. It even mimics Claire’s brilliant sense of humour. “It’s a very efficient routine and at 8.33am on the dot, the children are ready to leave for school!” adds Claire.

7am it says ‘good morning’
7.10am it says ‘Please get dressed, brush your hair, make your beds, open the curtains and put your bottle in the bathroom’
7.20am ‘Dressed, hair, bed, curtains and bottle? Please put mummy in a good mood’
7.35am (downstairs in the lounge)’Dressed, hair, bed, curtains and bottle done? If any not done, go back and do it please’
7.45am (downstairs in the kitchen) ’Mummy is not your slave.  Dressed, hair, bed, curtains and bottle done?’
8.10am (downstairs in the playroom) ‘Its 8.10am time to get ready for school or do violin practice’
8.20am (downstairs in the kitchen – moving towards the front door) ‘Its 8.20am. Time to get ready for school. have you done your violin practice?’
8.33am (downstairs in the lounge – next to the front door) ‘Its 8.33am. Shoes on, coat on, get bags including lunch if necessary.  Look for Nana or Granny’

Claire has always been great at planning activities for her children. But she recalls preparing materials for activities such as her writing routine charts whilst she visited the Headway Centre once a week for a break “It’s really important. It makes life easier and the children know what is expected of them. Now, I use Alexa to make sure we’re all on task.”

Before introducing smart technology into their lives, Claire relied on her husband to get dinner.  Now, she dictates what she wants to buy to a virtual shopping list that is linked to his mobile phone. She’s first to admit that it’s not without its flaws though! “My husband once got confused asking why, when we don’t own a dog, is dog food on the list? Alexa had confused jam with champ!” she laughs.

Alexa has other benefits too. As Claire walks in her front door she can ask Alexa to put on the lights, lamp and TV. “I don’t have to get out of bed to turn the hall lights on or off, which is amazing. And if the children are watching the TV and not responding to me, I can simply instruct Alexa to turn it off!”

It also works as an intercom. “I hate starting my day raising my voice and so having two-way intercom is absolutely necessary. Before this, I used walkie talkies because I do not have a very loud voice and I need the children to hear me when they are upstairs.”

Claire also makes good use of the dictation skills she used as a solicitor. She uses voice notes on WhatsApp and the audio facility on messenger because it’s so much quicker. “I used to hate how I sounded so wouldn’t have done this. I wouldn’t have even made basic phone calls in case I wasn’t coherent to the other person. But now it doesn’t bother me.”


Google calendar

Claire adds everything to her Google calendar, including instructions from the school and all her appointments.

“Anyone who knows me will understand that I have always been a planner, but my memory is not what it was. It’s still ok but it definitely isn’t excellent anymore and so a combination of Alexa and Google calendar helps.”


Non-tech parenting tools

It’s not all about technology though. Claire is a very creative and having been ill has not stopped her from being inventive. It’s quite the opposite.

“Since my brain haemorrhage, I haven’t been able to return to work, but I have always seen the time at home with my children as a gift; even more so since I became ill.

I hate being bored and so I spend a lot of time coming up with educational activities for my children. Many of these activities are not just useful for disabled parents, but anyone who cares for children.”

Claire talks about using clipboards, as an example. She’s uses them to keep her children engaged with their environment. When they go for a walk, the children will often have their clipboards with them.

“I provide different activity sheets for them to complete. They tick-off things they have seen or now that they are older, I include questions, or I ask them to write-down facts. Giving them added responsibility also helps their behaviour; it keeps them focused and engaged. For any parent, it’s a huge help.”

Claire also makes full use of ‘busy bags’; clear zipped coloured pouches where her children can bring a couple of activities with them on a trip out. “There is a different activity in every pencil case so there is still an element of choice. What I like is you can change the activities as your children grow”, says Claire.


Making the family house a home

“The whole not-looking clinical thing is very important to me. So, with a lot of research, my husband and I came up with solutions to make the house practical but not like a hospital. We wanted it to feel like our family-home.”

The kitchen has been carefully adapted to make it easier for Claire to access cooking items and she wouldn’t be without her coffee machine.

Whilst some of the changes were practical, others have been heart-felt. “We even added the house number of our old address to our children’s summer house; a nod to our previous home!” she says.

Claire also has her own space; her therapy room; her sanctuary and home to her treadmill where she completes her daily steps, whilst watching TV.


Personal goals

Talking about physiotherapy, Claire adds “My stubborn streak has been very useful. Without it, having to re-learn to walk using a frame wouldn’t have happened because it has taken constant persistence (I am not there yet!) and endless patience.

I don’t let what happened to me define everything (any more than it has too). I am still me and I know I can still be stubborn. It’s what made me become a lawyer and a good mummy. At the end of the day I want to do, and more importantly feel like I can do, all the things other people can and not be prevented by the logistics.”


If you would like to take a further look to Claire’s blog, please click here.


Olivia English

Budding artist wins award at Lloyds of London Art Exhibition

We are very proud of client Olivia English who exhibited at the Annual Lloyds of London Art Exhibition held on 22 – 26 October 2018.

Having suffered a near fatal brain haemorrhage and undergoing surgery in late 2015, Olivia received two years of therapies and was encouraged by her neurological rehabilitation professionals to take up painting for the first time to aid with cognitive processing in a non-stressful way.

Olivia embraces the peaceful solitude she finds in painting whilst her artworks have given her a sense of purpose.

For the exhibition, Olivia submitted three oil paintings of local seascapes.

During the Tuesday evening private viewing party, Olivia was awarded the prestigious Brian King Developing Artist Award and a £500 prize. This was presented by Mr Bruce Carnegie-Brown, Chairman of Lloyd’s of London.

To finish the week off on a high, Olivia also won the Public Vote award.

Reflecting on winning the awards Olivia said “I feel humble people voted for my paintings, I lost many things after my Brain Haemorrhage, my old self, my identity, my career, my self worth. My life now will always be shaped by my health limitations but I nevergave up, I am on a path I didn’t chose but what a wonderful journey I am on. From my heart I thank all those who voted for me”.

Olivia has kindly donated £1000 to Headway Essex made up from; 75% of the proceeds from the sale of her paintings and £100 public vote prize money. The remaining 25% will go to the exhibition organisers chosen charity.

“This is the first opportunity I have had to do something for Headway, I was adamant from the outset if I got into the Exhibition I would donate any sale money to Headway.
In my darkest most challenging times it was a handful of close family and friends who were there, no matter what to help practically and emotionally. Headway ALSO became that family member / friend in one, they get things done tailored to individual needs, they secured what turned out to be 2 years of Neuro Rehabilitation Care for me. I will always be indebted to Headway”.

We would like to thank Olivia for her kind generosity and we wish her every success with her art venture.

Chrissy's story Headway Essex

Chrissy’s story of survival

Chrissy's story of survivalIntroducing Chrissy’s Headway Essex story

In 2007 I went for a hearing test because I was noticing that I could only respond to sounds from the back but not the front. My friends, who I would go to karaoke with, also found it difficult to communicate with me at times because I simply couldn’t hear them.

Loss of hearing as a sign

When I went to the doctors, they suggested I have a hearing test, which I did. It was at this hearing test (where a more in depth examination took place) that it was found I had two ‘blisters’ within my brain. An MRI followed, and I was told I have brain aneurysms and that they could cause bleeding at any time. The news came completely out of the blue; I was shocked. Not only this, but I had to go home and tell my son and daughter.

I was referred to Queen’s hospital in London where I visited many times for various scans to monitor the stability of both aneurysms. All the while, I also had a complex issue with my gall bladder, which had to be removed. It was an incredibly tough time that brought with it an awful lot of anxiety and stress.

Dealing with anxiety and uncertainty

I felt like I was walking around with a ticking time bomb in my head. “Would it be the last time I would see my grandchildren?” “Is this the final time I’ll get to see my friends?” The anxiety and thoughts were relentless.

I lived like this, with annual visits to Queen’s for six years. It was in 2013 that they decided my aneurysms were stable enough to stop ongoing monitoring. This was a really difficult time; I suddenly felt alone. I was still living in constant fear of ‘what if’.

All I knew was that I would have to get to hospital as soon as possible if I had a severe headache and nausea. But, trying to work out what somebody means by ‘severe’ when you’re under so much stress is not easy; especially since I am prone to headaches and have sinus issues. I was a nervous wreck.

Impact on mental health

My mental health took a turn for the worse as the anxiety never went away. I started to hear voices and had delusions, which to me, felt so real and incredibly scary. My family were terribly frightened for me and in 2017 I voluntarily agreed to go into the King’s Wood Centre in Colchester for adults with acute mental health problems.

I couldn’t understand why I was there, but I knew I wasn’t well. It was a very raw and tough time for me. But, it was here that I met a psychiatric nurse, who when having reviewed my history, pushed for further brain scans.

I had a series of scans in July 2017, where it was revealed that one of my aneurysms had grown to 9cm in size, which explained why I was having such intrusive thoughts. And on 29 August, I had extensive brain surgery to remove the aneurysm that had grown.

Realities of recovery

Recovering from the operation was very hard. Mentally it was tough and isolating, even though I had my children and grandchildren supporting me.

Where all the nerve pathways started to reconnect, the pain was intense. I would wake up in agony. This was an ongoing symptom for many months.

I had a really scary episode in April this year, when my eyes started to spasm uncontrollably. My neighbour had to call an ambulance for me and I was taken to hospital where I had a CT scan and a lumbar puncture to check for any bleeding. Thankfully, my remaining aneurysm, which is inoperable, was not the cause. The eye spasms were being caused by a blepharospasm; something I’ve been left with as a result of my life-saving operation back in August last year.

Discovering Headway Essex

I found out about Headway Essex a while ago through a counsellor I was seeing for my anxiety. I was given booklets on the services available and told how fantastic the support is. But at the time, I was in a really fragile state of mind. I wasn’t ready to reach out.

It was only after my operation and recent scare that I felt ready. Making contact with Headway Essex is the best thing I’ve done. They’ve provided me with some light in what has been a very dark place. I wish I had made contact sooner.

I am now, mentally, feeling stronger; even though my future with my remaining aneurysm remains uncertain. I am tackling my anxiety with the help of Headway Essex. I am receiving counselling through the charity’s counsellor specialising in brain injury, Steve Shears MSc, and I also attended my first Headway Essex Support group in September.

At the support group, I didn’t feel alone. I was surrounded by wonderful people, who are all braving brain injury together.

Mandy, one of Headway Essex’s Community Support workers, is simply amazing. She has an ability to listen and truly understand what having a brain injury means on an individual level. She’s helped me apply for a Headway Card, which I can present to people when I am out to alert them to the fact that I have a brain injury.

At the moment, I am feeling good. Sharing my story is a big step forward for me. I hope that if somebody with a brain injury reads this that they’ll take Headway Essex up on their offer of support.

Help us be there for more people like Chrissy!

We can only continue to support people like Chrissy in their hour of need. If you are able to and would like to donate to Headway Essex, please click on the donate button below.

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