But what if you experienced isolation every day? What if brain injury had robbed you of the confidence to engage with society, while the family, friends and networks you relied on for support drifted away?
This is the reality for many brain injury survivors and their loved ones. People like Belinda Medlock, who sustained a stroke at the age of 47 which left her with ongoing cognitive issues and chronic fatigue.
“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of awareness raised about the negative effects of isolation and the damage it can do to a person’s mental health and wellbeing,” said Belinda.
“Unfortunately for brain injury survivors like me, isolation is very common and is often long-term due to the ongoing effects of the injury and a lack of understanding in how to support them.”
Our A life of lockdown? campaign, which launches during this year’s Action for Brain Injury Week, aims to give a voice to those affected by brain injury and raise awareness of this all-too-common impact of brain injury, with the simple message of ‘Reach out to help out’.
The campaign offers a range of information to help explain why the often invisible effects of brain injury can lead to isolation, while offering simple guides and tips to help brain injury survivors overcome these feelings – encouraging friends, family and colleagues to offer support whenever they can.
Headway Chief Executive Peter McCabe said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the effects of isolation into sharp focus, but this is an issue that brain injury survivors and their loved ones can face on a daily basis as a result of their condition.
“The complex effects of a brain injury can cause profound changes to a survivor’s personality, emotional control and behaviour, as well as their cognitive ability, causing significant barriers to them fully engaging with society.
“In addition to this, many carers and close family members can feel isolated as the pressures of caring make it more difficult for them to communicate or interact with friends and family, often leading to their own social and support networks drifting away.
“Through services like our local groups and branches, the UK-wide helpline, award-winning information and the Brain Injury Identity Card, Headway is committed to providing people with the support they need to live lives that are as full and independent as possible.
“Through the 'A life of lockdown?' campaign, we hope to champion the cause of those affected by brain injury at a time when awareness of isolation has never been greater, calling for people to understand the effects of brain injury and reach out to help out.”
Because of its very nature, the true extent of isolation among the brain injury community is unknown but it is an issue that is commonly encountered by those who turn to Headway for help. In a recent poll of our online communities, 81% told us that they had experienced isolation as a result of their brain injury.
‘Lack of understanding’
For Belinda, helping those around her to understand the effects of her injury was a turning point which allowed them to see the reasons for her isolation and be there to support her.
She said: “It was the lack of understanding that I found most difficult. For a long time, I think people thought I isolated myself due to anxiety.
“But as time has gone by people understand that it’s the effects of my brain injury that restrict me, such as my cognitive functioning and sensory overload.
“I would say to anyone who is isolated after a brain injury to talk to friends and family and explain why it is that you feel isolated. Read other people’s experiences, I’ve found that there are always others out there who are experiencing the same as you are.
“As we emerge from lockdown, isolation for many survivors will continue. It’s more important than ever to be aware of the implications that come with a brain injury and that we find the right support.
“I’m hopeful that some good will come from this and that more support will be given.”
Explore the links below to find out more about the A life of lockdown? campaign...Back