How do you cope after a life changing injury? Andy and Heather Davies draw on their shared emotional bonds, tenacity…and poetry.
Andy: I was a mental health nurse but I haven’t worked, or even gone out much since my brain injury. I’d have been sectioned with out Heather. She’s had to put up with a lot. The brain injury has changed me.
When we met everything was going well. I’d overcome depression from depression and trauma from things that happened in my childhood. I left my job as a support worker to become a nurse. My life was fulfilled.
Heather and met through work – I always say she chased me! We got married at Liverpool football club, life was good.
No-one knew at first that the accident I had at work had caused a brain injury; we were told it was concussion. I started hearing voices, I wouldn’t tell anyone but Heather knew something was wrong. I put on four stone and found there was a tumour on my pituitary gland.
I became depressed. I pushed her out, accused her of having affairs, but she knew it wasn’t me talking.
I write down my thoughts – they come out as poetry. I’ve no idea why but is stops me ruminating. Heather can tell when it’s happening, she tells me to work on some poetry. It’s because of her and the clinical team that I’m where I am – I work hard to get better for them.
My poetry and the book take away the ball of knots on my stomach. I used to say to my patients ‘write down your problems it really helps.’ I didn’t know if it was really true, but I do now.
It’s been a hard journey but Heather and I are closer than ever. The rapport we have is incredible; she’s my best friend, my soul mate. The brain injury has robbed everything but I still have her and my poetry…
Heather: We’re very close, so I knew something was wrong with Andy after the accident. For a long time no-one knew the full story but me, not many people know even now. He was scared to admit he was psychotic.
He’s a nurse, so he knew how bad things could become. He was hearing voices that told him he was rubbish. He thought people could tell just by looking at him. In the first year he was suicidal. I took six months off to get his medications right – I didn’t want to leave him. Even now going out is a challenge. We’ve just been on a family camping trip. That was a massive achievement. I’m proud of him.
In the early days he used to get upset and apologise. He’d tell me to find someone else – I’d just say I didn’t want anyone else.
His writing has been so good for his recovery. And it’s good you know! I can see the difference in him when he writes; I have to convince him that it’s good.
We’re both tenacious – we don’t give up. People thought he’d only be as good as he was at the beginning. We’re proving them wrong.
I don't know when it all began,
The voices screamed out loud.
They’d made it hard, to say the least,
To keep my secret sound.
They’d manifest, from good to bad,
They'd pull me place to place.
They’d tell me, ‘all will be okay’,
As long as I comply.
Voices saying “kill yourself”,
I never questioned why.
Voices ruled my sanity,
They made me want to die.
They’d tell me, if I don't reply,
They’d only multiply.
Perceptions shattered like a mirror,
Falling from the sky.
My soul in various bits of glass,
Strewn out there on the floor.
No longer do they shout as much,
Or knock upon my door.
Instead I have control of them,
At least to some degree.
No longer do they rule my life,
it’s only now I am free.
So now am building back my life,
Just one brick at a time,
The whispers still remain inside,
They rattle through my mind.
No longer do they cause me shame,
Or play their silly games.
Now I've taken back control,
Bad voices have abstained.
Besides me stands a strong female,
Who’s helped to keep me sane.
She's held my hand in times of need,
No doubt she would again.
My friend, my love, my constant one,
You’ve never let me down.
You’ve kept the beast back from my door,
You stopped it breaking down.
Dark whispers creep, within my soul.
When no-one is around.
I know I’ll live forever more,
with voices in my mind.
Voices they can change a man,
And leave him feeling blind.
No longer do I fear the whispers,
Coming from behind.
Voices cannot hurt me now,
And this I know for sure.
Anxiety’s an endless war,
I fight it everyday.
Stops me in my tracks at times,
and roots me to the floor.
Coursing through my veins right now,
and Clouding up my thoughts.
The Sweat builds up upon my hands,
it seeps from every pore.
It twists and turns my stomach around,
and leaves me feeling sore.
Chest pains feel like a heart attacks,
my heart it races off.
External noises overwhelm me,
shutting every door.
Its broken down my social skills,
and left me so unsure.
Stripped away the things I like,
and traps me at my door.
I take a medication now,
which helps reduce my fears.
Anxieties I’ve suffered now,
it seems like years and years.
Compelled to hide away from all,
am safe within my zone.
There's help out there for everyone,
don't suffer all alone.
I think about you all the time,
you’re always on my mind.
You’re always there when times get bad,
and catch me when am down.
At times when low, I think of you,
and all the things you say.
Never would I act on them,
they’ll never go away.
Followed me throughout my life,
just lurking from the sides.
Only raising up its head,
to spit its hate and bile.
All the while it still remains,
a massive part of me.
Ingrained so deep within my skin,
becomes my DNA.
I'll put this ghost to rest one day,
Within the spirit world.
No longer will I let these thoughts,
take over like a curse.
Instead I learn to live with pain,
my mind I must keep strong.
Because suicide it follows me,
It’s been here all along.