Alisha Martin tells re­porter Rachael Comer about how a con­cus­sion changed her life and her men­tal health.

The Timaru Herald - - HOMED -

Alisha Martin never knew what it was like to feel low or anx­ious, un­til a knock to the head changed her life.

A head in­jury while clean­ing last year re­sulted in con­cus­sion and has meant on­go­ing com­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing low moods and feel­ings of anx­i­ety.

She says the past year has been a tough one.

How­ever, the low points have also been con­trasted with pos­i­tive mo­ments, and a new found in­ter­est which has led to a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity, she said.

She hopes shar­ing her story dur­ing Men­tal Health Aware­ness Week will help oth­ers to talk about their men­tal health.

The theme for the week is Na­ture Is Key, and fit­tingly it is through work­ing with flow­ers that Martin has found a sil­ver lin­ing to the cloud which she says has been hang­ing around her since her in­jury last Au­gust while she was do­ing a clean­ing job.

‘‘It re­ally has changed my life,’’ Martin said. That in­cluded a lack of con­fi­dence.

‘‘I used to be such a con­fi­dent per­son and when I have to go out now I re­ally have to psych my­self up.’’

She had never ex­pe­ri­enced low moods be­fore her head in­jury, and said she has iso­lated her­self.

‘‘Be­fore the head in­jury I was pretty much a nor­mal per­son.’’

The head in­jury also meant she hadn’t wanted to ven­ture far from home, adding to the iso­la­tion, she said.

So­cial me­dia had helped in her re­cov­ery, with over­seas sup­port groups al­low­ing her to talk to peo­ple from through­out the world go­ing through sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions.

‘‘Talk­ing about what you’re go­ing through is so im­por­tant and chat­ting with other peo­ple who are go­ing through sim­i­lar things.

‘‘Find­ing sup­port from other peo­ple and talk­ing with them is so good.’’

Look­ing for a way to keep busy, but work at her own pace, Martin de­cided to try work­ing as a florist. ‘‘I used to work on a flower farm in Christchurch and I love flow­ers.’’

The work fit­ted in with her as she could take it at her own pace, and al­lowed her to work with bright colours which helped perk her mood up.

‘‘Some­thing good has come out of it - my flo­ral busi­ness.

‘‘It’s my ther­apy and some­thing I love do­ing.’’

She said walk­ing, rest­ing and a slower pace of life also helped.

‘‘I used to be rac­ing all over the place. Now I have to plan things and take one day at a time.’’

It could be quite dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to un­der­stand what those with a brain in­jury or suf­fer­ing a men­tal health is­sue went through, she said.

‘‘It’s not like you’re walk­ing around wear­ing a ban­dage on your head.’’

She said ev­ery day was dif­fer­ent, but she tried look af­ter her­self. ‘‘The pos­i­tive thing is out of all of this I have dis­cov­ered some­thing new, that I’m pas­sion­ate about.’’

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