This week is Action for Brain Injury week, and the theme this year is ‘A Life of Lockdown’. The aim of this campaign is to highlight the difficulties faced by people with a brain injury, and how the effects of their injuries can make them feel isolated.
To explore this, and how it impacts the people we support, we spoke to Hannah, 33, who lives at Speyside, our supported living service in Blackpool. Her brain injury occurred after an overdose in 2019, when Hannah attempted to take her own life.
Hannah said: “I got in with the wrong crowd and was feeling very low, so I made the decision to take my own life. Afterwards I was in a coma, and my mum was told I would never walk and talk again.”
Thanks to Hannah’s determination, she has proved everyone wrong. She loves her daily walks and calls herself “a right chatterbox”. She said: “When I arrived at Speyside, I was in a wheelchair, but I was so determined to improve that each day I would go for a short walk around the block to build up my walking. One day I decided to push myself even further and I walked to a nearby shop with a staff member and that was about half a mile. I no longer need a wheelchair. I never gave up!”
Hannah’s progress has been phenomenal, but support worker Jasmine told us that lockdown was very difficult for Hannah, and really impacted her mental health:“Hannah’s progress has been incredible, when she first came to us, she would have to point to things that she wanted, and during her recovery, she would be surrounded by tubes which scared her son and made her very upset. After help from the speech therapist she learnt techniques to speak clearer and slower, and she improved considerably. However, during lockdown she wasn’t able to see her son or other family members for a long period of time. Hannah was able to call her son or mum, but it just wasn’t the same. Hannah is very social and enjoys going out, so to go from doing that to nothing has been very hard for her.”
After the journey of recovery and rehabilitation that Hannah has been on, the lockdown restrictions have not been easy, but she is coping well, particularly with her mental health. Jasmine said:“Hannah has now learnt to deal with her bad thoughts. She knows to speak to staff or people close to her and seeks help when is needed. This is a really positive move for Hannah.”
Looking ahead to the future, Hannah said: “My dreams and hopes for the future are to move away from the Trust and live independently with my son and a dog. I would say to people never to give up as my determination has got me to where I am. Always think positive.”