Almost everyone dealing with a traumatic brain injury needs some financial assistance as they can’t work due to their symptoms. But the worst thing is, so many people don’t get any financial help, which causes a lot of stress.
One of my members asked me how I dealt with this, which is why I dive deeper into how I navigated that stressful period in this post. Hopefully, it will help others to feel less alone or get some ideas to “survive” this stressful period when they don’t get any financial assistance after sustaining a traumatic brain injury.
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Traumatic Brain Injury and financial assistance in The Netherlands
In the Netherlands, there is a system that provides financial support when you sustain a traumatic brain injury. It’s called UWV. I am not a big fan of them as they can cause you so much stress.
You just never know when they will check in with you and when they decide you still need financial assistance or if you can go back to work.
Mostly in the first year, you get 70% of your salary as financial support. But you have many appointments, and they try to get you back to work as soon as possible. Some people are “lucky” and have a sweet person who understands their situation.
I wasn’t lucky.
The system pushed me to go back to work
I had many calls with them, and after a month, they told me I needed to try going back or otherwise I would stay in this bad “mindset” of being sick too long.
As I was so lost during that time, I didn’t know what was going on with me, so I listened and tried to go back to work many times in my first year.
It made everything worse, it caused me stress, and I felt overwhelmed all the time.
After the first year, I had a new check-up
I got so many questions, and luckily, this time, a sweet person told me that I could get one more year of financial assistance because of my traumatic brain injury. This was such a relief, but I still felt the pressure that I needed to get better in that year.
And time was flying! Before I even realized it, the year was over, and I had my new check-up. When it’s already your second year, they ask way more questions, and you need a physical check-up as well.
The second check-up - I couldn’t believe this really happened
My worst-case scenario had become reality. I had a check-up with them at their office, and I still can’t believe what happened.
They told me to turn my head to the left and to the right, and yes, I can do that; it hurts, but not functioning. And they just told me that it was working well.
Then I had to do some eye tests; as I mentioned, I have problems with my eyes. I can still read a letter far away and read a line, but it’s not functioning as it used to function. But they said that normal glasses would help if I had issues reading a text or watching a screen.
Then they checked my reflexes and told me they were working fine.
That was my check-up. I had to leave the office and would get a letter with the results within two weeks.
They told me I could work for 40 hours
I received the letter after one week and couldn’t believe what I was reading. They told me I should be able to work 40 hours a week. During that time, I definitely couldn’t do that, even 5 hours was too much. I could barely handle my daily activities.
And even right now, 40 hours is just too much, it’s not something I want to go back to or strive to go back to. This whole journey taught me there is more to life than work, and it’s all about finding the best work life balance, which is not working for 40 hours while having symptoms.
What did I do when I didn’t get any financial assistance anymore? I rented out my place
As I already felt financial stress during my whole recovery period, I tried to save everything that I could, just in case this situation happened.
So, in the beginning, I lived from my savings, but I realized this isn’t something I could do forever. I needed to have an income to cover my expenses.
I moved now and then to my parents and rented out my apartment in Amsterdam. I didn’t want to do that as moving, packing, cleaning the place also caused a lot of stress, but at least this was less stress than the financial stress I felt.
I started babysitting
When I felt a bit better, I started to babysit two days a week. I was still living from my savings, but I could use all the extra money. It was only a small baby, who slept a lot so I could take breaks if needed.
It was not always easy, and I had days where I didn’t feel well enough, but I had to go. So, I did.
I rented out my apartment for 6 months
Babysitting is what I did for a very long time, and then I decided to rent out my apartment for a longer period of time (6 months) as the babysitting was not making me happy. As my apartment was in Amsterdam, you can ask a lot of money.
I traveled to Asia, which is cheap. I paid in Asia sometimes only €300 a month and the food wasn’t that expensive too. I didn’t do many activities, so I didn’t need that much to just live there. So, the rent from my apartment in Amsterdam covered those costs in Asia.
But I couldn’t live like that forever
All the time, it felt as a temporary thing, just to survive and get as much rest as possible. I knew it couldn’t be like that forever.
So, I thought about what I really wanted to do when it comes to work, something meaningful and then decided to start this community. This was four years after sustaining my concussion.
I’m so happy I took the step/risk to start this community
It was still a risk as it only cost me money in the first 6 months, but somewhere deep inside, I felt this trust that it would be okay. That one day I could live from it and do something that I love.
Let me be honest, it did cause a lot of stress. When you start something, there is a lot that comes your way. But I am so grateful I went down that road, and it’s helping many other people.
Sometimes, I can’t even believe I just did this
If you asked me a year before I started the community if I would do something like this, I would have laughed. I never thought I could start and run something like this… haha!
But I did it! And it really fills my heart with love when people send me messages that this community has been a game changer for them, that they moved forward because of this community.
I am so glad I took this step, not only for me but mostly because it’s helping others. That’s the most rewarding feeling ever.
Sometimes, we are capable of so much more than we think
I believe when the time is right, we can do it. We can do something we love, something meaningful, something we would never do without our concussion that crossed our path.
If I can do something like this, then one day, you can do this too. Yes, even if you don’t believe it yet ;).
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