In the early days of brain surgery/brain injury having a support network is such an important thing but what do we do once once the bandage comes off? Once the scar heals to the best of its ability and once we start to look ok to that support network? Well, they get back to living their lives and that’s ok. However, we are now left in this new isolating world where we’re not sure what’s happening to us. A world where we’ll soon come to learn that we now live with life long hidden problems.
If you’re one of those people that has a support network after the early days you may still struggle with the feeling of isolation and that’s ok. Brain injury is such a traumatic thing to happen and can change you in such a way that you do see the world as if you’re the only one that understands what you’re going through.
I feel that you don’t truly understand a brain injury until you have one.
In this blog post I’d like to share some advice on support networks, the different kinds and what to do if you don’t have one.
Asking for a support network
(I live in England so I’m not sure how it works in other countries, but you can browse some Useful Links that I’ve found)
Go to your GP and ask to be referred to a local Brain Injury centre or a neuropsychiatrist. You have to say neuropsychiatrist because they’re very different to a psychiatrist, neuropsychiatrists know a lot about brain injury and the emotional side effects. They’ll give you coping mechanisms, teach you about the part of your brain that you’ve damaged and the knock on effect that’s had on you.
In England, Headway are very good. They have a variety of groups you can go to and you’ll get to meet other people with a brain injury. Find your local one here, you just have to enter your postcode, contact the one closest to you and they’ll arrange to meet you so they can learn more about you and your needs.
Friends and Family as a support network
Having friends and family as a support network can be isolating, depending on how much you see them, how much they really know about your brain injury and it can also depend on just how busy they are with their own lives. Try to update them as much as you can, it’ll let them know how you are and make you feel less alone. From my experience though, I suggest getting professional help if you can. Having an outsider is always better because you have someone who knows about brain injury, someone you can say anything to without fear of being judged, someone who can give you practical advice and coping skills with day-to-day life.
I have one friend that truly understands brain injury because he also has a brain injury, but we’re not friends because of our brain injury. (Be careful with that, don’t just be friends with someone because they have a brain injury, it’s not a healthy relationship) We’re friends because we have things in common, the same sense of humour and can talk for hours. We became friends because of our situation; we both work at Headway Glasgow, we both have brain injuries and on a work night out we bonded over the dark humour surrounding our injuries. Because you have to laugh. The others who were with us didn’t seem to think it was funny, but they don’t have a brain injury… So, sometimes having a support network is having a friend that has a brain injury, but make sure you get on with them outside of your brain injury as well. That’s what we did and now we don’t talk much about our brain injuries, we can if we need to but we both know that professional help is much better, especially after not having any for so long.
The little things
Having a support network doesn’t have to big things like the things I’ve mentioned above because you might not need something big right now or even ever.
It can be little things such as having people in your life that:
- Understand you need a quiet table when you go out.
- Will listen to you when you need to talk.
- Will ask how you are.
- Support your passions and hobbies, because that improves your mood.