News | 20.12.2022 | By: Jo Grange

How counselling with Headway Sussex helped me

We were touched when Andy got in touch to share his story of brain injury and the benefits of the counselling he received from Arlette through Headway Sussex. He wanted us to share it in case it would motivate someone else to try counselling. Thank you Andy for allowing us to share this.

When I was eight, I was hit by a car. I hit my head and was placed in a medical coma. I recovered but my personality had changed. I was more frustrated, angry and lost all interest in school. I became less sociable and outgoing.

I didn’t realise at the time, no one did to be fair, that this was the start of a life long struggle. My anger, frustration and feeling of isolation followed me into my teens, often in fights, often getting hit in the head as a result. I had no interest in my education, no purpose and no ability to look at a future. I was totally impossible to live with, having severe mood changes and frequently lashing out. After an overdose I slowly went downhill, drinking, trying to see a way forward.

Another head injury at a training exercise for a charity caused more issues and I became obsessive with trying to bring order into my life. I finally met a lovely lady and we started dating, which surprised me as I was impulsive, loud and,  probably, slightly obnoxious. One month after our relationship began I started to suffer from seizures. At first diagnosed as epilepsy, then non-epileptic, then a mixture of both. Years went by and the seizures continued, causing another induced coma, along with severe anxiety and depression.

Three severe head injuries later, one about four years ago, one in 2020 and one in 2021 along with hospital stays due to seizures and long covid  meant I couldn’t work, read, do mathematics or play console games (my one safe retreat). I developed a bad stutter and brain fog, not even being able to get my kids names right. I lost my ability to keep my balance and required a stick to walk. My GP suggested Headway UK. I contacted Headway Sussex, in Newick, not expecting anything as I didn’t think I had brain injury.

They accepted me and a fantastic counsellor helped me take my life apart and make sense of all the head injuries, the impact they had on my life and the stress they were causing my family and myself. I finally accepted I had had traumatic brain injuries and acquired brain injuries even though the CT and MRI scan found no damaged cells.
She patiently explained neural pathway damage and how the brain tries to fix itself.

Andy today with his dog Yuri

I started to accept my ‘smaller’ world and realised I could cope when things went wrong and how I could deal with the fatigue, forgetfulness, terrible impulsiveness and clumsiness. We worked on understanding the problems I face, how to approach the negative feelings and work to my strengths. I now live within these boundaries as best as I can.

Arlette, the counsellor helped me apply for PIP and I got the movement part (sorry can’t remember what it’s called) but got turned down for the living part . She helped me get them to reassess and I got the living part as well. I live within my capabilities now, can’t cook, make a cup of tea, shower, read or game but I can enjoy each day with my dog and someone watching and helping me.

Thank you Headway Sussex. An extremely huge thank you Arlette.

If you would like to contact us to discuss counselling, please email us and we will get back to you.