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Ask An Expert

Ever wanted to ask a question about your brain injury but didn’t know where to go to? Well wonder no more! Simply fill in the form on our Contact page and your question will be sent to an expert and answers posted here.

Your name will not appear on the website so you don’t need to be embarrassed about asking anything you have ever wanted to know about your brain injury.

Ask an expert and get the answers straight!

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Your Questions and Answers

We have recently had a number of questions asked about relationships so have grouped these together.

These answers have been provided by one of our Youth Zone experts who is 17 and has a brain injury so has some insight into what young people go through.

It’s very difficult to get your friends to understand you because they haven’t been in the same boat as you. There are many things your friends will go through that you won’t completely understand! Some people find it hard to understand things like a head injury so maybe ask a close family member to have a word with your closest friends just to explain a little more about it to them.

Sometimes people don’t understand how to act with people who have had a head injury if they didn’t know to start with, or they didn’t know the extent of your injury. Maybe it was a shock to them and they don’t know what to say in case they hurt your feelings. There isn’t much you can do about how they react. Maybe ask them why they are feeling how they do about you and try and explain things to them.

If you don’t feel ready to tell him or feel uncomfortable telling him then wait until you’re ready. If he is worth it he will like you even after you tell him you’ve had a head injury. If for any silly reason he leaves you after he is not worth it and you are worth a lot more, but I doubt he will!

If they are your real friends they won’t mean it, and if its upset you ask them nicely if they can stop joking about it because it hurts your feelings. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it ask a family member like your Mum or Dad to have a word with them. I am sure they are only joking because otherwise they aren’t true friends and you deserve better!

The best thing to do about this is speak to an adult, depending where the bullying is happening. If it is happening at school ask a teacher to look out for you and maybe even speak to the bullies, or if you don’t feel comfortable doing it maybe ask a family member. Also, the best way to react to them is just carry on and ignore them because one thing bullies love more than anything is knowing that they are upsetting you so just be brave and ignore them and they may even go away themselves.

I know this sounds silly, but writing in a diary is so helpful. If there are things you don’t want to talk to people about or things that make you angry, if you write it down it gets out of your system and also you don’t have to tell anyone. It’s so helpful. Or picture yourself somewhere else like a happy place, a place you would love to be with the people you care about and every time you feel stressed just imagine yourself there. If you feel stressed when you’re around people or upset, count from 10 backwards in your head and see if that helps.

If you find it hard talking to your parents maybe you have another adult in your family that you trust? If you do maybe speak to them about it.

Perhaps arrange an appointment with your doctor and explain how your feeling and maybe he/she can put you through to a counsellor. In my opinion they are the best to help you because they don’t judge you and you can tell them anything and they cant tell anybody else about it, they keep it to themselves. The only reason they would speak about it to anyone else is if they thought you were at risk. Good luck!

I was in a car accident when I was 12 and hurt my head pretty badly. Now I am 14 and even though I got back to school I have having trouble concentrating and taking things in. I find that I am OK in the afternoon, but the mornings are a real problem. I just feel so tired that my head is fuzzy and all I want to do is sleep.

First thing in the morning is a real struggle to get out of bed and get ready for school. I haven’t got any energy and don’t feel like I can face the day. This doesn’t just happen on school days, even at weekends when I’ve been invited to something, I just know I won’t be able to get up in time for it and sometimes I end up missing out.

My Mum and my sister get really annoyed sometimes because they end up being late too and I think they just think I’m being lazy. But I’ve tried getting an early night and it just doesn’t seem to make any difference. I don’t want to miss out on things or be late for school every day but it’s like my head just won’t switch on.

Do you know if this is normal after hurting your head? And is there anything I can do to stop it?

Hi Lewis,

Firstly, please don’t think you are the only one with this problem. Tiredness or ‘Fatigue’ as it is sometimes called, is a very common problem among young people who have had a brain injury.

Fatigue is different from normal tiredness as it’s not something that can just be sorted out with a good night’s sleep. Also, it can come and go so that one day, you feel fine and can cope with lessons at school, but the next day, in exactly the same lessons you find yourself feeling incredibly tired.

It can be helpful to remember that if someone hurt their ankle, they wouldn’t be expected to run a marathon straight away, and it isn’t any different from your brain. Brains have to carry out millions of complicated processes every day just to enable us to do simple things like writing, talking and remembering etc. So, it’s understandable that after it has been injured, it has to work extra hard and can get tired more easily. This can be hard to remember because once all the surface injuries like cuts and bruises have healed, you can’t actually see your brain or any injuries that it’s had.

When we discussed fatigue at our Youth Group, most of the young people agreed that this was something they struggled with. So, they made a leaflet with all sorts of tips in it about what they found helped them. You can find this leaflet in the Youth Zone of our website, but some of the things they found helped them were:

  • Timetables – Using a timetable, write down all the things you do in a week and use a highlighter pen to show when you are feeling tired. Remember to include school subjects, times of day, places, people and situations. You might see a bit of a pattern, and it is useful to show teachers, parents and friends.
  • Plan ahead – Practice looking ahead at your week so you can keep energy for important things and allow time to chill out after a busy or stressful time.
  • Keep a social diary and plan regular contact with your mates – Choose your mates carefully and don’t be embarrassed to tell them that you may have difficulty with keeping up, especially late nights and noisy environments. Get them to go easy on you and have a laugh together.
  • School – Tell a teacher about your injury and explain how it still affects you. You could print of some of the information factsheets from the Child Brain Injury trust Website to give to them to learn more.
  • Ask for extra time to finish assignments, that way there won’t be as much pressure.
  • When you feel ‘overloaded’, ask the teacher to allow you to leave the lesson for a drink, a walk or a rest.
  • Have a break.

You might also find it helpful to tell your Mum and sister about this website so that they can learn more about fatigue and help you find ways of managing it.

Hi, I’m having some problems with my friends at the moment. I had meningitis when I was 6 and was in hospital. I had loads of appointments with different doctors and they told my Mum that I had an acquired brain injury. After I got sick, my school were really nice and spoke to my class about what had happened to me so they all made a massive card for when I came back to school. I did ok and I’m now in Secondary School.

One of the problems I have is with my memory. I sometimes forget little things especially with my friends. It didn’t seem to be much of a problem at Primary School, but now me and my friends are older, it has got me into trouble a few times. I can forget what they have told me, including secrets about the other girls. I know that something is supposed to be a secret but then I forget and tell the wrong person. I also forget our plans and their birthdays and I worry that my friends will think I don’t like them if I keep on missing their Birthdays or trips out. Recently, my friend lent me a CD and I was supposed to bring it back in to school for her, but I’ve forgotten it twice now. I think she thinks that I’m trying to steal it.

Sometimes I feel very different to all of my friends. I wish they understood or could remember about what happened to me when I was 6 and how it still affects me.

Hi Charlotte,

Thank you for your email. It sounds like you’re having quite a hard time at the moment but you’re not on your own with this situation. A number of young people that I work with have had experiences a bit like this. I think that it can be hard for people to remember that injuring your brain is different from some other injuries, because you can still have some effects years later. Also, as you get older it seems more important to keep up with what your friends are doing. When you are 6 years old it is usually your parents that have to remember all the birthdays etc, but when you reach your teenage years, suddenly you are expected to remember all sorts of little details about your friends and what they’ve said which can be a very complicated thing!

I know that you said that you feel different to all of your friends, but I think it’s important to remember that they are all different too. Just looking at your friends you will see how you all have things that are different from each other and unique to you. They might have an unusual hair colour, or height. They might be from a large family or be an only child. Your friends probably spend some time worrying about what makes them different too!

Your friends will each have something they are particularly good at which could be maths, swimming or being friendly for example. They will also each have something that they find tricky. All these things that are unique to us are what make us special. We all also have things that we have in common, or share with our friends. This could be loving the same music, finding the same things funny or enjoying art for example.

It sounds as though you can find remembering things tricky, and sometimes it can be too easy to focus on the things we’re not so good at and forget our strengths. One thing I find useful is to write a list of all the things you are good at, and the things that are nice about you, including good things about your personality. This can be a harder activity than it sounds, so ask someone in your family, or a teacher for some suggestions.

The young people that I work with came up with a list of tips that helped them with some of the same problems that you described:

  • Phoning your friends and making arrangements to see them outside of school.
  • Getting a wall calendar or a pocket organiser so that you can write important dates in it.
  • Picking one or two of your closest friends that you trust the most to talk to and telling them about how your injury still effects you.
  • Tell these friends how much you appreciate their friendship and speak to them about one or two other things they could do to help you out.
  • Getting your parent to talk to their parent.
  • Remember that if friends borrow your clothes, write it down or let your parent know. The longer you leave it before you get it back the more likely you are to forget.
  • Writing dates down of things like birthdays and activities so you don’t forget.
  • Invite them to come and stay over at your house.

Finally Charlotte, I noticed that you are from New Cumnock. If you think it would be helpful, one of us could come out to meet you and discuss what you’d like your friends to know, and then we could run a small workshop with you and them, all about the brain, covering the things you’d like us to. Please keep in touch and let us know how you get on!

If you have a question you need answered, fill in the form on our Contact page and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Or give our Helpline a call on 0303 303 2248.

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