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A group of friends enjoying time together illustrating the importance of relationships to those with a brain injury

My name is Paul Spence. In 2012 I suffered a frontal lobe brain haemorrhage which blew my life to pieces on every level you can imagine.

The injury brought changes to my personality and amongst other things, I lost the ability to process information and feel emotion. At the time, I had poor insight and didn’t understand the severity of the injury, but those closest to me did; they could see the true impact and were frightened for my future.

Two year recovery to never be the same again

During rehabilitation, a neuropsychologist informed us that I would have a two-year recovery and would never be the same again. Part of me was gone forever and there would be permanent damage. Again, I had poor insight and didn’t understand. My nearest and dearest understood but they didn’t know how to deal with the news. How could they? It would take years to know the full extent of the injury, and to mourn the loss of someone who is still alive must be extremely difficult.

Making sense of a damaged brain

As my identity changed, so did my place in the world. Family dynamics, employment and social circles were all impacted with general roles and responsibilities ceasing to exist. This affected every relationship I had, including the one with myself. I spent my days lost, confused and vulnerable. Trying to make sense of a damaged brain is complex.

Love and support

Family and friends rallied round and provided fantastic support. Their love carried me during early recovery. It’s during these times of adversity that you recognise who really cares for you. I found that some people who I thought would be there were not. There were some people who I didn’t think would be there who were. The loss of relationships was painful but realising the strength of others was uplifting.

It stands to reason that the relationships that were hit the worst, were with the people that were closest to me. As the months and years of recovery went by, they continued to see little differences, and this hurt them. It became clear that the little things make a big difference when it comes to relationships. The unique understanding that you have with one another is a precious gift. Sadly, it’s something that is often lost after brain injury.

Longing for the old me

There were long periods during recovery when I wanted to be the ‘old me’ and family/ friends did too. It’s only natural for everyone to want to go back to how things were. Change can be difficult, especially when emotions are involved, and we are wired to form habits for efficiency.

After brain injury, habits and routines change dramatically which leaves everyone feeling uncomfortable. I found that trying to act like the ‘old Paul’ was tiring. People who were hoping for the usual level of engagement were saddened when it didn’t meet their expectation. We knew it wasn’t the same, but we remained positive and persevered none the less. Being open, honest and making each other aware of our feelings helped massively – rebuilding relationships takes time and patience. Later in recovery, I came to accept my differences and so did those closest to me. We learnt to adapt and formed a new understanding between each other. I’m happy to say that some relationships are even stronger. Love always triumphs.

New relationships that have developed after brain injury have been based on the ‘new me’. People take me for who I am as they don’t know any different. This can make things easier.

I hope this blog post demonstrates that despite relationships being negatively impacted after brain injury, there is always a way to rebuild them and develop new ones for the future.

About Paul Spence and P.A.U.L for Brain Recovery

Following his brain injury, Paul Spence set up the charity P.A.U.L for Brain Recovery to provide support and guidance for people affected by acquired brain injury. They work with each person to help them reach their full potential and overcome the subsequent challenges at different stages of their recovery.

Read more about Paul Spence and P.A.U.L. for Brain Recovery

About Hudgell Solicitors

Paul Spence is an ambassador for Hudgell Solicitors. Hudgells are proud to do much more than represent clients in legal cases. Through their partnership with the charity P.A.U.L. 4 Brain Recovery, Hudgells are able to offer unique support services and mentoring to clients who have suffered a brain injury.

Hudgell Solicitors serve clients nationwide and have offices in Hull, London and Manchester.

How can Brain Injury Group help?

Brain Injury Group is a network of approved personal injury solicitors with brain injury expertise. Moreover, our member firms have the complex injury experience to get the best possible rehabilitation and compensation for brain injuries.

Brain injury rehabilitation is important; to us, to our members, to you and towards getting the best outcome. We can help get you that best outcome. Get in touch to find out more from our brain injury experts.

Contact us – to get in touch you can either:

  1. Call us on 0800 612 9660 or 03303 112541
  2. Email us at enquiries@braininjurygroup.co.uk
  3. Complete this short enquiry form and we’ll get back to you
  4. Find a specialist brain injury solicitor near to you
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