In our latest episode, we talk about the importance of esteem. That feeling of confidence, accomplishment, and respect for others can have a significant impact on self-esteem.
Ashwini and Brooke discuss this specifically in the context of what you do on a day to day basis. Whether that's work or something else, and how you go back to that after brain injury or not. Or otherwise, it might also be an opportunity to look at finding something else that you enjoy that has meaning for you.
Ashwini 00:00:22 - 00:01:19
In this episode, we're going to be talking about the importance of esteem. That feeling of confidence, of accomplishment and having the respect of others as well, because that can have a huge impact on self esteem.
We're also going to be talking about it specifically in the context of what you do on a day to day basis. Whether that's work or something else, and how you go back to that after brain injury or not, it may be that after a brain injury you might be looking to go back to work, and if so, there may be adaptations to take into account or certain limitations. Or otherwise, it might also be an opportunity to look at finding something else that you enjoy that that has meaning for you.
Brooke, I'd like to talk to you about your experiences. Of course, you were at university at the time that your injury happened. Did you really have a sense of what you wanted to achieve in life at that point?
Brooke 00:01:19 - 00:02:56
I was studying for a degree in electrical engineering with a view to go work with my dad on the oil rigs; I didn't have that much for a plan in life. But one thing that having the injury did, it certainly put a stop to any plans that I did have.
I remember a really early initial phone call with my dad when I was actually laid in the hospital bed and he was telling me about a job opportunity that he had because he was working in the Middle East at the time and I thought, I genuinely thought he was talking about a job for me. Maybe this is like a lack of insight or it's just not really understanding things properly. My dad was talking about a job for him, but I kind of heard it as for me, because all that was on my mind at the time was I wanted to start work, I wanted to do something with my life.
I was thinking that I was going out to work either in the North Sea or in the Middle East in a couple months’ time, and I genuinely, genuinely, genuinely thought that I suppose I didn't realise that I’d been in this coma – I suppose now it was like in the middle of the summer and if anybody remembers the summer of 2007, it was pretty much non-existent! It was not like July and I had the accident in May and I didn't really realise that a few months had passed; I just didn't want to realize anything to be honest.
Ashwini 00:02:56 - 00:03:17
I suppose as well, thinking about where you were at that point in time in terms of being in university, having friends who were looking forward to graduating and having the normal nine to five jobs, so to speak. We’re you sort of thinking that that was going to be your path as well?
Brooke 00:03:17 - 00:04:06
I was always aware that I needed to do something, but I didn't realise the enormity of what had happened to me at all. I just thought it was going to be, like when my dad was talking about the job, I thought I was genuinely in a couple months’ time, I'm going to be either in the North Sea or in the Middle East working.
My dad said to me, something I remember him saying was, “No, your job is to get better.” And I just thought no, it's not. I thought I need to get back to work. I just didn't realise what had happened to me – one, because I didn't really remember - I had no memory of this thing. From my point of view, I was just in this hospital and loads of people were coming to see me. I didn't really think about why or what for. But it was something I thought was very much temporary.
Ashwini 00:04:06 - 00:04:56
Yeah, and it sort of touches on something we've talked about before - this idea of not running before you can walk, allowing yourself the time to recover. But when you're in that situation and perhaps there is that lack of insight as to just the enormity of what's happened to you and the fact that you can't just pick up, get out of bed from hospital and go into a job. It can be quite difficult to come to terms with as well.
I know that you were concerned that you didn't want to be sort of in a position where you weren't doing anything or perceived as someone on benefits, not that there is anything wrong with that I should hasten to add, but I think for you that wasn't what you wanted?
Brooke 00:04:56 - 00:05:31
I remember there was a TV program out at the time called Benefits Street and it was like pretty much looking down on people that were on benefits. So the whole premise of the show was look at these people not working and living off the government. And everybody was looking down and calling them scum and what have you. And I just thought that's what I was doing at the time, and I wanted to get away from that. I think one of the things for me was I wanted to earn people's respect, really. I didn't want people thinking ill of me.
Ashwini 00:05:31 - 00:05:35
And respect is a big part of your self-esteem, feeling that other people respect you.
Brooke 00:05:35 - 00:06:23
Yeah, I mean, obviously everybody had seen me have this accident, get run over by this car, had seen me in a coma and gradually waking up from a coma, saying my first words. But, like, I didn't see anything, I didn't know anything about that. I just remember, my genuine first memory of coming out of a coma was like six weeks later after the accident and me being in, it's called C2 ward in Hope Hospital, sorry it was Hope Hospital then, it’s Salford Royal Hospital now, and just seeing all my photos by my bedside and thinking what have I done now?? That was my first memory. I had no clue of the enormity of what I’d been through.
Ashwini 00:06:23 - 00:06:45
We’ve also talked about in previous episodes around the idea of not comparing yourself to others, but naturally you would have been looking at your friends who you know, are at the beginning of their career journeys, carving out that sort of ‘normal’, dare I say, lifestyle of full time jobs etc.?
Brooke 00:06:45 - 00:09:56
Yeah, well it happened to me at 24, but I think I was really a couple years behind everyone else because I'd gone travelling first when I was 21 and I never really wanted to go through university when everybody normally went to university, which was 18. I wanted to go travelling first so I did that and then when I come back you know I was 24. And a lot of my friends have been to university, they’d started out on this career, or if they haven't been to university, they'd been working that particular job that they've been doing for quite some time, so they're getting like established in it. And I was still like at the bottom of the pecking order.
I just had this fatigue issue; the main issue for me has been this fatigue and it was just horrendous because you know, like, I couldn't even watch a TV program for half an hour and so the thought of like going back to uni was just, it was just a nonstarter.
I was aware of all my friends, like, starting out in their lives and starting their careers and stuff. I was thinking, you know, what can I do? I remember hearing at a friend’s party and some of the men, they were talking to one of my friends and I remember like the level of respect that he was getting and I thought I wanted that for myself because all of a sudden I’d been through this big trauma and I was just a bit of a, I was a poorly boy, so I wanted to get away from that image.
I felt this need to do something but my options were limited because, you know, I couldn't concentrate and I couldn't do anything. I remember it was when I went to live with my sister in Manchester, she had this book on the shelf and it was, I've never even read this book but I’ve spoken about a few times, it was like do something every day that scares you and I never even read the book. I don't even know what it's about, but I took it to mean, you know to push self out of your comfort zone. Also, I was visiting my sister and I was on the tram and there was a Metro, a free newspaper and there was a little article in there about the things that people are more scared of and there was, I think like death was number 3 and then it was spiders, and then number one was public speaking and I thought I've never been like massively confident, but I just thought that’s something that I could do. I thought if everyone is scared of it then I could do that and I wouldn't be scared of it, and it fit well because you know the actual public speaking itself, that would only take you know half an hour an hour, and then you could spend your own time planning what you were go and say. And also, I wanted the respect of people and I thought if it's something that people more scared then I could do it.
Ashwini 00:09:56 - 00:10:13
And they could respect you because you're doing something that they might be scared of. And I guess, you could talk about something that was very personal to you, i.e., your experiences, and that would be engaging for people listening to you.
Brooke 00:10:13 - 00:12:33
The first thing I ever did, I got involved with this, because I was living in Scarborough at the time and I got wind that somebody was setting up a Headway group, and I mean, bear in mind, Headway I know a lot about now, but at the time I'd never heard of this thing Headway. I got invited to come along and I did this speech, basically of what happened to me, and I think about 40 people came to watch me and I mean, it wasn't a great performance; I just literally had it written down on a piece of paper, word for word was I going to say and I put my head down and I read it. But I wrote it quite well and it got a good reception was I remember the round of applause that you get at the end and that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be like appreciated in life, I just wanted to be, you know, I always wanted to do something with my life.
But having this injury, it just massively limited that and I just thought you know for a while I thought I'm never going to be anything. I'm just going to be poorly in this house, but that was something, yeah, I got a buzz out of it.
From that, my Auntie worked for North Yorkshire County Council. And I got into working with the emergency service and into working with the fire service there and we used to go and visit like different colleges. They would speak about road safety and I would speak about being a victim of a poor driver. From that, I moved over to Manchester and I used to go and do it in Castleford - it used to be quite petrifying because they were only young, you know about 17/18 year olds at college and they were a bit... I suppose because the fireman was like in a position of authority, they were giving him no respect and stuff, and giving him a bit cheek. And I thought, you know when a comedian gets heckled, I thought I would just be, I would just crumble because my speed of thought was so slow. But bless them, they were all, when I start speaking, they were all really really nice and really respectful thing – I think it was because I'd… I don’t know, why did they respect me?
Ashwini 00:12:33 - 00:12:52
Well, I think it's also, you know, your story touches so many people, let's be fair. And I guess in the context of road safety they will probably have heard the road safety chats many many times. But to see the other side of it, that this is a consequence of you know, bad driving.
Brooke 00:12:52 - 00:12:58
And a lot of what the fireman did, they used to play them adverts that were on TV which were full of actors and stuff anyway.
Ashwini 00:12:58 - 00:12:59
Whereas, there is a real person.
Brooke 00:12:59 - 00:13:36
Yeah, a real person.
The guy was called Andy Walker and I said, you know, if you got anything else that I can do and he put me in touch with somebody who worked for the fire service in Manchester called Leslie Allen who was doing this thing called Safe Drive Stay Alive. Safe Drive Stay Alive, a show will work like this; it’ll be say, someone from the police, someone from the fire, someone from the ambulance, maybe the hospital will each tell a particularly harrowing story from their career, and then I come out and I tell what happened to me because I'm a victim of poor driving of a young driver. It's really, really powerful. I'm really proud to be involved in it.
Ashwini 00:13:43 - 00:14:08
That’s amazing - from not knowing what to do with your life to then starting out, you know telling your story, realising the effect that that had on other people that people were sitting up, taking notice, respecting you, to getting that message out to so many people where it could really make a difference from.
Brooke 00:14:08 - 00:15:12
I'd like to think so. I mean Safe Drive Stay Alive, you can never quantify how many people you do help, how many lives you do save. But I'd like to think you know, it makes people think twice in, you know, turning out into a busy junction and it certainly has, it definitely has an affect. You know, you get the ‘Jack the lads’ don’t you, who want to look hard in front of the mates and pretend they’re not bothered but you do get a lot of them fainting, you get a lot of them crying afterwards. And what we do is we stand in like the foyer afterwards, when people you know when they're all coming out of the theatre, so a lot of them walk past, but some of them come up and say how good it was and how much you've inspired them. And there’s that whole thing isn't there - if you only save one life, it's worth it. Having seen what me nearly dying has done to my family, you know, if you can save the trauma. And I was lucky as well, if you could for one family, it’s certainly worth it so.
Ashwini 00:15:12 - 00:15:20
Yeah, yeah, definitely. And is it still something that scares you, public speaking?
Brooke 00:15:20 - 00:16:24
I think I'm bothered about doing a bad job and I'm bothered about letting people down now because it was Leslie and now it’s a lady called Ros. So actually, I still go on with notes, I daren't go on without my notes because I’ve just got this fear of like, you're under a spotlight and what if you just forgot what you were going to say – I’m a little bit scared of that! But as long as I've got my notes, I'm alright, it's just public speaking. It’s just a practice thing. It’s like a skill, it's like anything really - people say ‘Oh, I couldn't do that’ and like you know I couldn't do it at first could I, because I just looked down and read word for word off the piece of paper. But you know, you know, it gets to a point when you start looking up and start looking people in the eye and you know you've got all these things, like you know, imagine the audience naked! But you don’t need to do that, your confidence comes with time because you've done it so many times. It’s just like speaking to one person, but it's you know, speaking to a lot of them, that's all it is.
Ashwini 00:16:24 - 00:16:31
And I guess, people enjoy listening to you, you're good at it. How did you get into the blog writing?
Brooke 00:16:31 - 00:17:34
Again, it was something that was the product of being stuck at home with nothing to do. I had this Dell computer and it was, do you remember - is it dongles? And you used to plug them into your laptop, into the USB, and it was a T-Mobile dongle and we used to get on the internet that way. It was just literally searching for something with brain injuries because I had this thing that was wrong with me, but I didn't really sort of believe it myself. I didn't really understand it and I wanted to know more about it. I was just researching trying to Google stuff about brain injury. But like all that you ever got was like, extreme examples of brain injury, where people are in a terrible way. But obviously, that didn't speak to me. I remember thinking that I'd love to kind of have some sort of website where people could go, and you know people like, who are in my position, could go and learn about it.
Ashwini 00:17:34 - 00:18:09
Yeah, especially if they were experiencing a lot of the same things that you were and just understand why that might be and that it's OK to be going through that. And I suppose it was also something that, much like the public speaking, the preparation for it you could do in your own time without pressure.
Brooke 00:17:55 - 00:18:47
Yeah, and I remember ages when I was, you know when I was younger, my dad used to work on the oil rigs and he used to bring me like software home. And he'd brought me this thing called ‘Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing’ and he was trying to get me to learn how to touch type because my dad could always touch type and I never could. But it was like anything you know, you tried it for maybe a day and then you just got bored of it. So I remember Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, so I downloaded that off the internet and I taught myself to touch type and then somebody suggested writing a blog and I put it off for a while and then I just wanted to produce this content for my website. I just wanted to do something because so everything was so miserable, everything was so like extreme versions of brain injury and it was all misery and I wanted to write it, but with a bit of humour in it as well.
Ashwini 00:18:47 - 00:18:59
I guess as well, a lot of things that you probably were accessing at the time were also very medical, very scientific.
Brooke 00:18:53 - 00:18:54
Ashwini 00:18:55 - 00:18:59
And just having sort of the voice of someone who's been through it - you know, a normal person.
Brooke 00:18:59 - 00:19:07
Yeah, that's yeah, that's what I wanted it to be. Not like a friend people, but something accessible and something relatable.
Ashwini 00:19:07 - 00:19:11
Yeah, yeah, and do you get much feedback from that?
Brooke 00:19:11 - 00:19:39
I used to yeah, I used to write the blogs and I used to post them to different Facebook groups and stuff - obviously the BASIC one – the Brain and Spinal Injuries Centre, Headway, and there's a few different brain injury groups around the world. That's what's the great thing about the internet. And yeah, I used to read all the comments and stuff and it’s like loads of people would say how good it was and then you’d get one person being abusive and that’s just…
Ashwini 00:19:39 - 00:19:39
It's always that way.
Brooke 00:19:39 - 00:19:51
Yeah, of course it is. I was really into promoting Facebook, so I started a Facebook page and you know I used to be on it a lot and I think I got up to about 2000 followers.
Ashwini 00:19:51 - 00:20:08
And I guess thinking about some of the positives that have come out of what happened to you, you discovered perhaps a love and a passion for communicating, be it through, you know, public speaking or writing, that perhaps you might not have otherwise found.
Brooke 00:20:08 - 00:20:20
I think you get it into your head that the only way to be successful in your life was to go to school, go to college, you to uni, get the best exam results, get a job and then work until you die and it's not obviously…
Ashwini 00:20:20 - 00:20:22
Work 9 to 5.
Brooke 00:20:22 - 00:20:33
But it's not the case, is it and I suppose I come away from everything, I'm quite critical of myself and all you think about if you've done some sort of public speaking, is what you've done wrong.
Ashwini 00:20:33 - 00:20:37
You need to big yourself up more and think about the people who are inspired by it.
Brooke 00:20:37 - 00:20:47
Yeah, that’s what my neuropsychologist used to say too, I'm too harsh on myself. But I suppose that’s how you get better isn’t it, yeah you feel it improving every time.
Ashwini 00:20:47 - 00:21:11
Like you know, between the public speaking, the blog writing, it's the things that you can do in your own time. You know, taking into account your fatigue, etc. You've got time to prepare, and you know your story better than anybody else, so it's talking about what you know, what sort of comes from the heart, I guess.
Brooke 00:21:11 - 00:21:35
Even though I know my story, I still I couldn't recite it – I don't know, could I? I probably could, but without my notes, I need my notes there. I need my notes just to prompt me. I don't need to read, you know, word for word anymore, but I just need a little bullet point and I can talk and look at that and without that I’d probably go off on a tangent and forget what I was talking about.
Ashwini 00:21:35 - 00:21:50
In addition to the public speaking and the blog writing, you've also been doing a lot of fund raising and dare I say also, getting your fitness to sort of, well almost professional level. How did you get into that?
Brooke 00:21:50 - 00:24:04
Fitness was something that absolutely, it literally saved my life. I mean, when I was run over, it was really quite badly - I was a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which it doesn't get any worse than. But my level of fitness at the time was the highest it's been. The first thing that the consultant actually said to my dad was that if it was you, you’d be dead.
I worked at this bar called Brannigans, which is now Albert Schloss in Manchester. I started going to the gym with one of the guys who worked there, and I just got obsessed by it and but I did get my level of fitness and my strength to such a level that I was able to survive that so.
I remember in the hospital, and I wanted to get back weightlifting, that's what I wanted to do again. I started running one night and it gave me like so much more energy so I knew that was the way forward it was. As part of my case, it was a care expert called Maggie Sergeant, who told me that aerobic exercise was best because it gets oxygen into your blood, which gets to your brain. You know, keeping fit would be a lot better for your recovery. All want to do was I want to recover and wanted to get back to, you know, the whole time I was deluded I thought it would just be, you know, I thought it’d be a couple more weeks, a couple more weeks. But yeah, the fitness was something I really pushed and so I did a couple of 10k runs. And then eventually I did the Great North Run. I did it with a couple of my friends and we all ended up doing the Great North Run together and I raised like over £1000.
I always wanted to do something with my life, and this was getting a lot of attention and people saying it was really good so I just did more of that and I saw that for a way of a career for myself. I thought fundraising, you know, even if it's not working 9 to 5, I was doing, you know, bringing some good into the world. It was about having that reason to get up in the morning and that became to raise some money to help Headway.
Ashwini 00:24:04 - 00:24:18
Wow, amazing. And it's, you know, it's touching other people, it's raising awareness, potentially saving lives and at the same time getting that sort of that validation that you have a purpose.
Brooke 00:24:18 - 00:26:11
I think with it being, like going back to when I had that Dell laptop and dongle, you just research stuff and it was just there was literally nothing out there and it was just I wanted to just, yeah, just increase awareness of it and I had this thing which to be honest, I didn't really understand. And to be honest, I probably still don't understand fully having a brain injury, but I suppose the reason for that is because the organ that helps you to understand stuff, i.e. your brain, is damaged.
I did want to make it more of a mainstream thing. There’s stuff coming in now, there's like stuff like in Sainsbury's you can wear like a lanyard to say you need help and stuff like that. I think Louis Theroux did a documentary on it. There's a lot more attention on TV, and I mean it's still nowhere where it becomes the norm, but people do recognise what a brain injury is now.
I remember like people saying to me… I remember going on this date with this girl and I was still in Scarborough then, it must have been 2011. Her quote was, “The accident was four years ago, Brooke, you need to get over it.” And just saying I had fatigue, it just sounded really rubbish! I used to say it was neurological fatigue - I don't even know if that was a real thing, but it just sounded a lot more professional than fatigue, didn't it? I thought it sounded like I was lazy, but it was something, I just wanted there be to be more awareness of and to be recognised more. And everything, I guess I've tried, I've done is to promote that.
Ashwini 00:26:11 - 00:26:19
Yeah, yeah, to bring awareness that it isn't just, you're not trying to be lazy, it is a medical issue.
Brooke 00:26:19 - 00:26:45
Yeah, and people who have it understand it, but a lot of people, you know if you're mixing in a circle with people, for instance, if you go to Headway, you don't have to say, you know you don’t have to explain what fatigue is because everyone know what fatigue is. But I found like, the majority of the people that you mix with don't have brain injuries, so they don't know what it is.
Ashwini 00:26:45 - 00:27:07
Yeah, and you're right, there is a little bit more awareness nowadays in around hidden disabilities and you know that not everything is just physical. And I think we've mentioned before the Headway Brain Injury Card, for example, where you can list how your head injury affects you.
Brooke 00:27:07 - 00:27:17
I would have loved that in the early years, like the early days of me having a brain injury. But yeah, it's out now so I would recommend to anybody to get that.
Ashwini 00:27:17 - 00:27:29
But it is important to remember that head injuries affect people in different ways, and you know can cause different limitations and some of those could be permanent.
Brooke 00:27:29 - 00:28:36
Absolutely, and there’s that old saying that if you have seen one brain injury, you’ve seen one brain injury.
When I moved to Manchester, I liked to try and do different things. There was something that interested me, it was called NLP, it was neuro linguistic programming. There was a talk about that and I went to this talk and it's something that really annoyed me actually. The woman who was giving the talk was saying that she had a brain injury and she couldn't smell for a while. And one thing that she did was, she got her boyfriend’s smelly trainers and she used to just smell them and from doing that every night, she got her sense of smell back. And I remember people sort of looking at me and nodding, as if, you know, you should be like her and for one I was trying to explain that it was much more serious than hers and she was trying to sell this, what I went to was like a taste course for this longer course and it would be like 8 hours a day for five days.
Ashwini 00:28:36 - 00:28:36
Try doing that with fatigue!
Brooke 00:28:36 - 00:29:01
Yeah! I was saying like I couldn't do that and what she was saying was you'd be surprised what goes in when you don't think it's going in, but it will be going in and I was trying to explain that I've got brain injury, it won't go in at all, but I think she's just trying to get money out of me - I'm sure that's what she was trying to do!
Ashwini 00:29:01 - 00:29:26
But thinking about you know limitations and coming back to this idea of esteem, of doing something, having that feeling of accomplishment. We've talked a lot about, you know, your specific experiences, you've been able to go into public speaking and blog writing, you've been doing a lot of fundraising. But I'm sure for a number of our listeners that might not be their path.
Brooke 00:29:26 - 00:29:32
That was what worked for me and like you’ve seen one brain injury, you’ve seen one brain injury, that’s your specific brain.
Ashwini 00:29:32 - 00:29:42
Yeah yeah, and I'm sure there will be other listens who, you know, were in a particular employment role and are looking to go back to that.
Brooke 00:29:42 - 00:29:43
Ashwini 00:29:43 - 00:30:35
And it's important to, as we've spoken about before in other episodes, about taking the time to recover. It's really keen not to set yourself up to fail in that sort of desperation to return to work. It's about giving yourself the time to be able to go back rather than rushing back and then it all going wrong, which could be much more devastating in the longer run. And certainly with the people I've supported I've seen so many people wanting, you know, their primary focus after an injury has been, “I want to get back to work”, because you know, for many people, work is what defines them, it's what is the basis of that feeling of esteem that you know, I am, my name is this, and this is what I do – it defines you.
Brooke 00:30:35 - 00:31:33
Yeah, yeah. I've seen a neuro psychologist called Russell Sheldrick at Salford Royal Hospital and have done since 2007 and something he identified with me is that identity, you want to say, “I am Brooke, and I am this and I do something.” Whereas like, I think I'm different in that you know a lot of people have families, or people have got full time jobs during our jobs, careers already established. I was in a position where I was a student and didn't really have anything – I was in the process of transitioning from uni, to a young person to an adult and I didn't have anything specifically to go back to. So I’ve just tried to, this is what I've found for myself, is public speaking and fundraising. But yeah, some people have families and stuff.
Ashwini 00:31:33 - 00:33:10
Yeah, of course, so they'll be concerned about paying bills or supporting family, or you know whatever and they're valid concerns and it's I guess it's about making sure that those steps are taken at the right time.
So you know, it could be working with a Vocational rehabilitation specialists, for example, to understand how their injury has affected them and what skills they have and what those skills could be transferred to. What makes them tick? At the end of the day, you want to be doing something that has meaning and purpose for you. I've seen it so many times supporting people who perhaps had other kinds of injuries, complex orthopedic injuries, where they might have been in a much more manual trade. It just wouldn't be appropriate to stick them in front of a computer or at an office desk when they've been out and about their whole working life, and so it is important to find what works. But also, to take it at the right pace, to do it in a phased way and having open dialogues as well with employers about any particular limitations, any adaptations that are needed to try and return to the workplace, any alternative roles. Something that can still give that feeling of purpose and esteem, and potentially also you know the financial benefit of being able to work.
Brooke 00:33:10 - 00:33:41
It's not always about financial benefit as well. If, you know, you need to work, you need to work. But I mean just talking about like my friend Ben, who works in a charity shop, just for his own self esteem and not for the money side. And he also does, he's a comedian and he does a stand up comedy night. It's about having, you know, you can't sit and watch day time TV, can you. You want, you need to do something with your life because will just cause depression.
Ashwini 00:33:41 - 00:33:41
It's having purpose.
Brooke 00:33:41 - 00:34:30
Yeah, having purpose and having a reason to get up in the morning and a feeling of accomplishment and then when you go to bed at night, you know, you've got to feel ‘I've done something’. And even if it's just a… I think that's important, my sister used to say to me in my very early days of recovery to just try and do one thing a day - you know, you like, you think you could do much more, you know, you have this big plans to do all these different things, but you know, I never accomplished any of them. But when you’re in recovery from a head injury, a good thing to do is when you tick something off – it’s an occupational therapy thing that is, it's therapeutic because you know you’re ticking things off a list that you've done. Even if it's just one thing a day, just try and do one thing.
Ashwini 00:34:30 - 00:34:39
Yeah yeah, I'm being realistic about what you can achieve, don't make a list that's so long that you'll never get to the end of it.
Brooke 00:34:39 - 00:34:42
Like I do!
Ashwini 00:34:42 - 00:35:54
I think we're all guilty of it in some way.
So I guess to summarise then, in terms of help and advice for our listeners, we've talked about finding something that you enjoy and finding something that works for you but also takes into account any limitations that you might have.
If you're already in work, it’s having an open dialogue with your employer about your limitations, about what you need to do, can they adjust anything? Are there any adaptations? Are there any alternatives? It can be difficult to have those conversations directly, so whether there's anybody that can support you. And you know, whether that's through, for example, a trade union but also, you know, speaking to vocational rehabilitation specialists or occupational psychologists can be really helpful, because they'll have that understanding of how brain injury affects the individual, so it's not just about the task, it's about how your brain injury might affect your ability to plan.
Brooke 00:35:54 - 00:35:56
Finding somebody who understands as well, that's a massive thing, I feel.
Ashwini 00:35:56 - 00:36:37
Yeah, absolutely, and you know, we do recognixe that not everyone will have a sympathetic employer. So then if you have someone with an occupational psychology or vocational rehabilitation background, they might be able to point you in another direction using the skills that you have to identify alternatives.
And definitely not taking on too much, and you know, and that's easier said than done, specifically thinking about brain injury and often the issues of lack of insight that come around that - it can be easy to want to do everything straight away, and you know that running before you can walk.
Brooke 00:36:37 - 00:36:47
Because while they're really recovering, your list of things to do is mounting up and mounting up and you know you try and do too much at once, and then you're going to fail and that's going to make you feel even worse.
Ashwini 00:36:47 - 00:37:02
Yeah, yeah, so you know, allow yourself the time. It's OK to take time to recover and to try and build yourself up towards any activity that will give you purpose.