The aim of the ‘You, me and brain injury’ campaign is to highlight the fact that brain injury doesn’t just affect the individual, but also their family, friends, colleagues, and many more relationships besides.
We spoke to Simon about his brain injury and the affect it has had on his relationships. Simon has been a Headway Thames Valley client since the charity’s inception in 1987 after a road traffic accident.
“My life changed for the worse since having my brain injury. I don’t go out a lot and have to make the effort to talk to people. I think people are scared to talk to me and approach me in case they say the wrong thing.
“I don’t think I would be as close to my family if I didn’t have my brain injury, they didn’t know whether I would live or die after my accident and were told to expect the worst. I’m close with my mum and sisters now and I visit my brother in Cornwall. It’s nice to see lots of my mum, I help her out around the house by dong the hoovering, making the beds and cleaning which makes her happy.
“My dad was my rock, he was 43 when I had my accident, before that we weren’t very close, as I was always out and about, but after my brain injury I was in all the time and couldn’t do much, so we spent a lot of time with each other.We had a very strong relationship and he helped out at Headway aswell, everyone liked him. Now my dad has passed I have stepped into his shoes and care for my mum. I told my mum ‘I’m not going anywhere’.
“I haven’t got many friends; before the accident I had loads. Everyone has gone off at a pace that’s too fast for me and I just can’t keep up with it. Lot’s of them have got married and moved away.
“Coming to Headway Thames Valley has brought me out of myself and made me more social. I get to speak with lots of different people and I have done things I wouldn’t normally do, like visit Spain and America and I’m lucky I got to do that with my dad too.
“I love speaking to people, I’ve got the gift of the gab, but now when I see people from school I think they just can’t be bothered to talk to me. Sometimes when I’m out with my mum, people will talk to her as if I’m not there and ask ‘how’s Simon doing ?’ I get so angry , I just want to shout – ‘I am here you know! Why don’t you ask me!’ It really pisses me off.
“Sometimes I’ll bump into people I used to know and they will say ‘My god! I never knew you’d be this good!’ and it makes me feel proud as people thought I wouldn’t get better. People shouldn’t be afraid to approach people with brain injuries, because they might actually learn something. I want to tell people to approach someone with a brain injury like a normal person!”