Today, Paul is a successful founder of a brain injury charity, public speaker and an advocate for victims of brain injury, and through his works he provides valuable insight into the challenges faced during the long and difficult road to recovery and much needed conversation surrounding brain injury.
We asked Paul to look back on his experience, in hopes that it will help someone who’s going through the same thing and perhaps, bring some positive insight into their own recovery.
“After the attack I was very much impaired and had limited understanding. At the time though, my insight was minimal, and I thought I was ok. I remember feeling pleased to go home when I left the hospital, but then I realised home life was very different and I felt lost, confused and vulnerable. My family were given very little information about the recovery journey ahead.”
“I was living in a bubble, knowing something was wrong but didn’t have the mental abilities to see the bigger picture. (If I’m honest, this was a good thing.)”
Paul’s life changed overnight, and he struggled with depression.
“Sadly, despite starting to make steps towards recovery, one of the consequences of my brain injury was depression. I went from an active dad who they could depend on, to someone who couldn’t leave the house, feeling lost and confused. You are faced with low mood, you put barriers up, isolate yourself and it takes encouragement from your support networks to give you that push to look after yourself and get support. I am lucky, I have wonderful parents, I’m close to my siblings and have a loving partner.”
By the second year of recovery Paul was going out alone and able to return to work, part time, one day a week.
“I did very little during the early days but as time went on, I adapted, learnt my new boundaries, formed new relationships and enjoy a good variety of social activities. I started to exercise, eat well, take regular walks in the countryside, and opened up.”
During Paul’s recovery, he soon realised there was very limited support in the community for brain injury victims and he felt like it was his duty to help others who needed it. He published a Facebook page to give an insight into living with a brain injury, with do’s and don’t for family members and things to think about to help them understand. He had people messaging him – can you come and help my mum, can you come and see my dad, so Paul started to go out into the community and visit people in their homes. Paul knew there was a lack of support services for people with a brain injury, he had a lot of passion and he wanted to do more, but he didn’t know what or how, and then he met a gentleman called Neil Hudgell who helped him start his own charity Paul 4 Brain Recovery.
Paul’s Advice about brain injury
1) Be Kind To Yourself & Reach Out For Support
During early recovery I couldn’t explain how I felt and then when I could, I didn’t. I tried to carry the burden of bad thoughts and feelings. This was not good for me! When I accessed mental health services it changed my life forever. It released my torment and helped me no end.
2) Tell People How You Are Feeling
My injuries were invisible which made things harder at times. I didn’t want pity, so I kept things to myself. This didn’t help and I would sometimes feel like people didn’t understand. Thing is, they were never going to unless I told them. Communication is key.
3) You’re Not On Your Own
Plenty of times I felt isolated in the community. This didn’t help my self-esteem and therefore my natural healing. I wanted to help others going through the same thing as me and I started up a facebook group. People started to reach out asking if could go and see them. I realised there were many other brain injury survivors out there, who needed support and there was a real lack of services in Hull, so I started my own charity P.A.U.L For Brain Recovery
4) Be vulnerable
Pre-brain injury I was worried about looking vulnerable and having it all figured it out. That mindset put so many limits on my life. After the accident I had to be vulnerable and ask people for support. People did support me and invested in me. As soon as I accepted the need for help my life became limitless.
5) Celebrate progress
No matter how big or small.
There were times I was so focused and wanting to be the old me. I failed to see and feel positive about the milestones I was reaching. When I started to accept that my life had changed and I needed to adjust and set new goals, I felt more confidence.
Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme
For further information on bringing a claim via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, visit our webpage www.braininjurygroup.co.uk/how-we-can-help/criminal-injuries-compensation-scheme/
Paul Spence and Hudgell Solicitors
Paul Spence is an ambassador for Hudgell Solicitors. Hudgells are proud to do much more than represent clients in legal cases and through their partnership with the charity Paul 4 Brain Recovery, are able to offer unique support services and mentoring to clients who have suffered a brain injury.
For more information on Hudgell Solicitors visit their Brain Injury Group member profile https://www.braininjurygroup.co.uk/find-brain-injury-solicitor/yorkshire-and-the-humber/
Applying for Criminal Injuries Compensation
It is possible to make a claim for damages to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) without legal representation. However there are a number of complex procedural and legal aspects to the Scheme and it may be beneficial to speak to a member of Brain Injury Group prior to commencing any claim, even if you then decide to proceed without legal representation. Additionally, if you have already commenced a claim to the CICA and then find you need legal help, our law firm members can assist.
If you would like to speak to somebody email email@example.com and ask to be put in touch with your closest member law firm.
How can we help?
Whether you are considering making a claim, need other specialist legal advice, are looking for information on continuing healthcare funding or welfare benefits, or access to a broad range of services and professional support through our online directory, the Brain Injury Group provides a gateway to the support you need.
- Call us on 0800 612 9660 or 03303 112541
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Complete this short enquiry form and we’ll get back to you
- Find a specialist brain injury solicitor near to you