When Debra Jones sustained a traumatic brain injury following a fall she assumed that her injuries would heal overtime and her life would quickly return to normal.
But now more than two years later, she says she is only starting to accept the long-term effects of her injury as well as her new self.
“After being discharged from hospital, I had no support networks to guide me through the most unexpected journey ever imaginable,” recalled Debra.
“Attempting to fall back into my old life had dramatic effects on my wellbeing. I tried to go back to my job as a manager for a retirement company but I couldn’t handle the responsibility and all that is attached to a managerial role.”
Debra’s brain injury had left her with a number of cognitive, sensory and emotional issues and she struggled to cope.
Things began to improve when her work’s occupational health team organised for her to have some specialist brain rehabilitation
She said: “The rehabilitation was the only thing that brought me back to a more meaningful existence. I received tremendous support and empathy from all the therapists that worked very closely beside me. I began to understand that I wouldn't recover overnight and that strategies needed to be implemented into my life to achieve all the daily things that we all do in our lives.”
Debra says one of the hardest aspects of her recovery is trying to understand and accept her new self.
She said: “I feel like a different person but then there are other times that I’m in denial. Things can be hard to accept.
“It feels like I am continually being held hostage by pain, fatigue and a strange brain fog. It is hard for some people to comprehend if they haven't experienced a 'loss of self'.
“People often tell me how well I am, but they do not know that I smile through silent pain, cry behind closed doors and fight battles nobody knows about.
“I have lost touch with some people, but through the injury, I have also developed an exceptional powerful bond and friendship with the people that were there for me.”
Dealing with the struggles of her brain injury is an everyday challenge for Debra but she works hard to stay positive.
She said: “Frustration of not being able to count on your brain, living with confusion and feeling jumbled can make you feel lost in a familiar place or conversation.
“But I am strong, encouraged and full of hope by support mechanisms and how I have been taught to be more mindful.
“I have learned to take things step by step and try and think only about the present.
“Reading the information on the Headway website has really helped too, also being involved in groups and social media is really beneficial.
“I know 100% how it feels like to be in a dark place and I like to try and help others in a similar situation.
“I always tell people brain injury has a tendency to surpass anyone's expectations or dreams. We are survivors in every sense."
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