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Brain injury: a hidden disability: Billy's story

I got knocked down by a bus in 1993 and was rushed to the Southern General. I had a blood clot that they had to remove. I was in a coma for 10 days.

When I left hospital I had problems with my eyes, double or treble vision. I did get offered some physiotherapy for my balance, but it was a long way to go for it, so I stopped going.

After I got out of hospital I went back to college. I had got a B+ at O level English – I was dead proud of that. I loved history and wanted to do English Higher, but I was taking lots of painkillers because I had a headache every day. And I was drinking a lot, so I stopped going to college.

I tried to sign on for disability benefits but they said I was fit for work. I started doing security work and I did that for 5 years. I was getting more and more stressed doing it. At the same time I was spending a lot of money trying to fix the damp in my flat. I gave up my job, but I was still having problems signing on for benefits. Things got really bad. I refused to sign on, I stopped eating and I sold everything in my flat.

I went back to Aberdeen which is where I come from, but the Council there wouldn’t help me with housing and advised me to go back to Glasgow. I met someone who sold the Big Issue who took me in. He took me up to Inverness and got me into the Salvation Army hostel there. They recognised the problems I had but their hostel was closing. So I came back to Glasgow and spent some time in the Salvation Army hostel in Hope Street. They helped me get my flat in Cowcaddens.

I’ve been there 3 years now.

I’m a lot more comfortable now I get help from Headway. I like coming to Headway on a Wednesday, there’s a lot of people there and a lot going on. It helps me get to know people. Apart from my friend, Alan, I don’t really know anyone. I’ve got no family and I’ve become more withdrawn since my accident. I threatened suicide once, which was a cry for help, so I was in Levendale Hospital for a week.

I’d like to get out more and have something to do. I like playing darts. I have problems filling up my time. I’d like to work but sometimes it takes me 4 or 5 hours to get going. Some days I can do things, others I can’t.

I’m a bit more optimistic now but I still get depressed. It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve sorted myself out. I’m not angry about my head injury now but you know there’s a lot of prejudice about.

Further information about Headway can be found at www.headway.org.uk or you can learn more about how Digby Brown can help people who have acquired a brain injury.

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