“Your new normal can be exciting” – Living life after a brain injury

Posted 1 year ago by Anna Christian
Angela has a passion for helping people living with a brain injury to find the right support. [Source: Supplied]
Angela has a passion for helping people living with a brain injury to find the right support. [Source: Supplied]

When beauty therapist *Angela arrived home from a camping trip ten years ago she began unpacking her camping trailer in the normal fashion. While she was unpacking, the lid of the camper came down on her head causing a brain injury.

For Brain Injury Awareness Week, running from 15 – 21 August, Angela wanted to share her story of challenges she faced with her brain injury and how appropriate supports can make a difference.

With her two children – then aged 12 and 13 – depending on her, Angela says after her accident she had a “tough” recovery period and “just muddled through”.

She had trouble with formulating her thoughts, comprehension and talking, while also struggling physically with balance and dizziness.

The impact of the brain injury affected Angela’s personal and professional life.

“When you have a brain injury, quite often you look in the mirror and you don’t recognise who’s looking back at you, because the person looking back at you is nothing like what you used to be,” explains Angela.

“You can’t see it because there’s no external scarring, there’s just what happens within your head.

“I tried many, many times to go back to beauty therapy but I just couldn’t.”

In 2015, three years after her initial injury, Angela came to terms with her “new normal”, with the help of her doctor, and regained her confidence.

While she still struggles regularly with fatigue, Angela has found a passion for helping other people with brain injury.

“My advice to others is keep going! Yes, life is going to be different, but keep going because you will find what’s your new normal and your new normal can be exciting,” she says.

“Find your cheerleaders and let them be there for you.

“One of the hardest things is putting your hand up for help but once you put your hand up people will know they can help you and they will come running to you.”

Awareness week to spread positive stories about people living with brain injury

Angela has been working with Synapse, the national peak brain injury organisation, for Brain Injury Awareness Week.

The theme of the week is ‘Life is bigger than a brain injury’ and its aim is to share the stories of people with a brain injury, in order to demonstrate the challenges brain injury can present to work, social life and independence.

By telling peoples’ stories of positive change following an injury, Synapse wants to show how these challenges can be overcome with the right support and understanding.

One in 45 Australians live with a brain injury and 75 percent of people with brain injury are males under the age 65.

Angela hopes that sharing her story will help others to connect with support no matter what their life circumstances are.

“In 2016, I got a speaking gig with Synapse at one of the Brain Injury Network events and I stood up and told my story,” she says.

“It really gave me strength in knowing I could share my story and really make a difference to somebody else.

“Then over the next couple of years I decided I wanted to help people and I started an online support group for people with brain injuries.”

Angela continues to run the Brain Injury Community, working to connect people with support and grow understanding of brain injury by professionals and the broader population.

“I want to see more and more people come together to share their stories and experiences, prop each other up, and help each other through it,” she says.

For more information about how to get involved with Brain Injury Awareness Week, visit Synapse’s website.

*Last name not provided