A Kirkby teenager has spoken out about struggling with her education after a traumatic brain injury.
Lottie Butler, 18, sustained a traumatic brain injury on a night out with her boyfriend last year.
Still to this day, the Ashfield Sixth Form student can't remember the sequence of events that led to the brain injury which turned her life upside down.
She said: "I remember banging my head on the door as I left the toilet cubicle, then the next thing I know, I was surrounded by the student union's emergency medical staff."
"It was really frustrating because everyone just assumed I'd had too much to drink that night and that's why I fell and hit my head, when in reality I was sober."
Lottie was diagnosed with a fractured skull and post-concussion syndrome.
Like many other brain injury survivors, she now struggles with the hidden and fluctuating effects of her injury, including memory loss, difficulties concentrating and, fatigue, which have affected her education.
She said: "My education has suffered so much as a result of my fatigue. My attendance at sixth form is 40 percent which means I miss a lot of the content. It's really frustrating. Just because I look well physically, it doesn't mean I'm not struggling."
Lottie, who is currently in her second year at Ashfield Sixth Form, hopes to go on to study Psychology and Sociology at university, but worries that her ongoing battle with fatigue will get in the way of her education.
She said: "Fatigue makes studying for my exams near-impossible. So many people don't understand my brain injury or fatigue at all – you can feel very lonely at times.
“They don’t realise that because I'm fatigued, I find it difficult to concentrate, which means I have to focus ten times harder just to read a sentence, which in turn strains my eyesight, which then makes me even more fatigued.
"It's a vicious cycle that I just can't seem to escape.
"I'm worried that my fatigue will stop me from enjoying the typical university experience and everything that comes with it, from the long lectures to late nights partying. I don't want to undo the progress I've already made, but I want to be able to do the same things other people my age do.”
"For the first few months following my brain injury I couldn't go to sixth form at all because the process of travelling there, socialising with friends and learning was just too exhausting," said Lottie.
"Now, I find myself sleeping through days on end after being at sixth form for just a few hours."
Lotti is sharing her story as part of Headway's Brain Drain: Wake up to fatigue awareness campaign.
Fatigue – or excessive tiredness – is one of the most commonly experienced effects of brain injury, and is the most commonly cited effect of brain injury reported by the 11,000 callers to Headway’s helpline each year.
A study released as part of the campaign and to mark Action for Brain injury Week 2019 has shown the issue of chronic fatigue is widely misunderstood, often leading to brain injury survivors feeling social isolated and being discriminated against.
The study found:
· 87 per cent of respondents feel that fatigue has a negative impact on their life.
· 75 per cent of brain injury survivors feel that people in their life do not understand their brain injury-related fatigue.
· More than two thirds of respondents believe that they have been unfairly judged or treated as a result of people not understanding their brain injury-related fatigue.
· More than two thirds of brain injury survivors feel that their romantic relationships have worsened as a result of fatigue.
· 88 per cent of respondents said that fatigue affects their behaviour and emotions.
Peter McCabe, chief executive of Headway, said: “It is clear that there is a distinct lack of understanding of pathological fatigue across the UK.
“As a society, we need to wake up and recognise the debilitating effects fatigue can have on people living with the long-term effects of brain injury. It’s very concerning that so many of the people we support have told us they feel they have been unfairly treated due their condition.
“The effects of brain injury can be hidden and, as a result, widely misunderstood – even by the brain injury survivor themselves.”