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January Blues

As the festive period draws to a close and many of us return back to work, the notion of ‘January Blues’ may come to mind. It is the knowledge that the bright lights of Christmas and New Year are over and the gloomy month of January is in full swing with dark and cold rainy days ahead.  January is also supposedly the month in which many relationships end.

Whilst the festive period may include family games and presents, it can also be the ultimate relationship test.  The stress of being around family can trigger unease in relationships, especially if there are already previously unresolved issues.  Likewise during this time, arguments between family members may occur as a result of the increased amount of time spent together.

For brain injury survivors, the festive period can be a joyous but also difficult period having to spend copious amounts of time with family and friends.  Some of whom may not know how brain injuries can affect a person and how such injuries can also affect personal relationships with others.  As a result of the lack of knowledge, they may not appreciate the ‘hidden’ problems they face.  For example with memory, concentration or temperament.  This may lead to inappropriate jokes about their abilities and downplaying of the severity of their injuries.  This can be deeply hurtful to brain injury survivors leading to a breakdown in the relationships they once shared with these individuals.

There are some general tips on how to try and overcome the January Blues such as eating well and exercising, but are there any tips to help mend relationships?

When hardships are faced in life, such as a brain injury, we often turn to our closest family and friends for support.  It is inevitable that as a result, some relationships may strengthen whilst others may become strained.  The latter is sometimes as a result of lack of understanding and communication about the brain injury and how it can impact someone.  If some relationships breakdown as a result of this, there is guidance and support available to help mend those relationships.

Some top tips include:

  1. Understanding the injury itself and what impact it has on the survivors, whilst also appreciating that everyone is different and so the impact a brain injury has on survivors can vary.  This can be done by learning from the brain injury survivors themselves and reading informative booklets prepared by the NHS or Headway.
  2. Communicating about the impact the injury has had on both the survivor and their loved ones.  It is important to note that although the injury has occurred to that one individual, the effects (for example emotional and behavioural), often have an impact on their loved ones as well.
  3. Supporting each other.  This can be done by maintaining regular contact and just generally being around for some companionship.  ‘Support’ can mean different things to people and so it’s best to talk with your loved one and see what they may or may not require.

Headway have an informative website and booklet titled ‘Relationships after brain injury’.  This not only provides support to brain injury survivors, but also helps parents, children, family and even work colleagues in understanding the difficulties survivors face with tips on how to support survivors and maintain their relationship with them.

January can be a hard month, both financially and emotionally, so let’s all remember to stay in contact with family and friends especially those that may require that extra bit of support.

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