Hi, my name is Alison.

I suffered Meningococcal Meningitis with Septicaemia in December 2013 leaving me with nerve damage in my face and areas of my brain. I lost many of the cognitive functions associated with frontal lobe brain damage and I experienced severe migraines as a consequence.

I struggled with the first 18 months of my recovery, not realising what support was available to me and just muddled through. I lost my career, my home and my independence, my marriage and I also had to try and stay strong for my baby boy who was only 7 months old when I fell ill. I didn’t meet PAUL until April 2015 but I really wish I had met him sooner. His support and positivity has been immense. Just knowing that there are other people with similar struggles and that there is light at the end of the tunnel has been a great comfort to me. Before this I felt so alone because nobody else really understood.

There are many things I am still unable to do but putting that aside, I have focussed on my physical strength and wellbeing for the last 6 months and the results have really made me happy. I started running in August 2015, just short distances, but have since taken part in several endurance events and I am training for the Hull Marathon in September 2016. My world is different now, but I love it! And I am finally returning to work after my 2.5 year incredible journey through recovery. I still have a long way to go but my life is finally back on track.

Three things I found the hardest were:

– Losing my identity.

– Not knowing whether there would be an end to the pain or any improvement in my symptoms.

– Literally keeping going each day, getting up in a morning and facing the day.

Three pieces of advice I would give to anyone going through recovery would be:

– Surround yourself with positive influences. Activities, family, friends and other people who are also going through recovery. Set yourself a small number of achievable things to do each day and make sure that they all have a positive influence on you and your wellbeing… physical and mental. Make yourself your priority!

– Don’t judge the people who do not manage to support you longer term. Everyone cannot be there for you all of the time. You really will learn very quickly who your support network are, focus on those people and not those relationships which have faded away, regardless of how hurt you may feel. At this period of time they are unimportant to you so try not to busy your mind with the worry and stress. There will be people who you thought were your friends who won’t stand by you. Don’t let it get you down.

– Don’t look back, the past is the past and you need to focus on your future. Learn things that you are capable of doing and channel your energy into new things without judging yourself on the things that you maybe used to do but cannot any more. Embrace your new path in life.

So much more needs to be done in our area to reach out to people recovering from brain injuries. It should not take for a person to hit rock bottom and lose everything before they get help. PAUL can help to make this happen.