Mum with brain injury trades celebrity nail clients for mental health support role
Kelly Christie was in a car accident in 2006 that left her with a fractured skull and damage to her frontal lobe which took her five years to recover from.
After suffering from seizures, she was told by doctors that she would struggle to make new memories as well as needing to re-establish existing relationships with family and friends.
Kelly said: “After the accident I spent years being told ‘You’ll never do this and you can’t do that’ it affected my recovery more than anything making me feel trapped and pointless.
“Think of it as your life being a filing cabinet and after a brain injury the organised cabinet has had all the files mixed up and has been smashed to pieces – you the have to sort through them piece by piece to put them back in order.
“No matter what kind of injuries a person is suffering from, they just need support and positivity to thrive and now that I’m in a good place I want to make sure others don’t have to feel the struggle I did.”
Kelly will be speaking at this year’s Virtual Head Injury Information Day about her journey.
After life completely changed following her injuries 14 years ago – she was no longer able to continue with her previous job as a chef, a struggle with depression and suffering from seizures and tiredness.
Megan her daughter, was only five-years-old when the accident happened, became like a carer to her which was difficult for Kelly to handle.
She said: “I could walk and talk, and read and write, but I had to do everything else from scratch like training my memory, understanding my emotions and controlling the seizures.
“I struggled to get back into the mum role and give Megan cuddles – it was like post-natal depression and we had to rebuild our relationship because the relationship we had before the accident was gone.
“Megan is now 20 and we have a fantastic relationship but I wouldn’t have been able to do what I have if it hadn’t been for the support from her and my friends and family.
“I struggled to cope with all the changes to my life and starting everything all over again, but I set myself goals and just keep going – I helped me to focus when I saw the progress.”
Kelly started her own award-winning ‘Jewels Not Tools’ salon in Angus after her recovery.
She was delighted to be asked to work at the Giles SS14 show at London Fashion Week where she had the opportunity to work with Georgia May Jagger – the model daughter of Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones.
Last year after she volunteered with the Samaritans and realised that she had more to offer. She is now working at her salon part-time to allow her to take on her new role as a mental health peer support worker with Hillcrest Futures.
Kelly said: “I still love working in beauty but volunteering made me realise I’m equally passionate about helping people. When the opportunity came to take on the role of mental health peer support I couldn’t say no.
“There’s not enough aftercare for those who have survived and live with acquired brain injury. People need to know after they have been released from hospital that there is support out there and they are not alone. I hope that being open about my experiences will help other people realise they can and deserve, to be happy.”
Chris Stewart, Partner at Digby Brown Solicitors, will be hosting this year’s Head Injury Information Day which this for year will be an online event for the first time because of the restrictions of COVID-19.
He said: “Kelly is a prime example of what you can be achieve with the right support whether legal, medical or just being there as a friend. If just one person is inspired by her story then that is one more life that can be saved.
“We help brain injury survivors every day to overcome the challenges involved in creating a new life and coming to terms with their accident.”