I know the stereotype for a girl is a rubbish sense of direction, and easily getting lost. But I genuinely don’t think I was too bad before my TBI. Growing up in the English country side before the invention of satellite navigation, had made me have to engage my brain more to get anywhere. Seeing as it might be miles before you see something other than trees and fields to act as a reference point, you don’t want to be making too many wrong turns.
It’s distressing when you know that you do know the area, but you still can’t find what you’re looking for.
After I resigned from my job due to my difficulties after my brain injury, I had to inform the Department for work and pensions. I needed to see if there was any government support I could temporarily access. So I wanted to talk to someone about what my options where, and how to go about it. I’d never been in this position before so I needed some advice. That meant going into the local Job Centre.
I knew where the Job Centre was, as when I previously worked in a local recruitment agents I regularly would give people directions there if they needed extra advice about their government benefits. So I set off thinking that the only reason this might take a while was that I might have to wait to be able to speak to someone. Wrong.
I parked the car, and headed in the general direction of the Job Centre, but soon got confused and was lost.
Something was clearly different, maybe they had closed that office and moved. So I tried Google on my phone. But I was still confused. There was some kind of council offices over the road, so I decided to swallow my pride and go and ask them for directions. Maybe the Job Centre had been moved inside there as a cost saving exercise.
Oh dear. The receptionist looked at me like as if I was quiet insane. Who am I kidding, I was insane! She told me I just had to go over the road to where it had always been.
At this stage I had been wandering around for no less than one hour! And had walked past the Job Centre umpteen times but never recognised it. I was stressed and exhausted, so you can imagine how disappointed I was to be told after all that I had to fill in an online form.
Feeling angry at myself, but I was also scared.
I had virtually failed at what should have been a simple exercise. I’d tried to reason out why I couldn’t find where I needed to be, but the only reason was, my brain wasn’t working properly. My confidence was shot to pieces. This was the town I lived in, if I couldn’t cope here, how would I cope anywhere? I realised I had to stop kidding myself, I just couldn’t trust myself anymore. I needed to stop being so defiant, admit when I’m lost and ask for help sooner. That turned my world upside down.