Who Are You Now?


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I want to be where I planned my life before it was cut off from me. I want to rejoin my life from there. But nobody knows what's written for you.

1 Birds

Sometimes I want to be on my own. When that happens it’s like a box around me. When someone intervenes in that box I get angry, cause even now there’s a lot of confusion in me. I can’t find the exact points or the wording to describe things.

I just sit quietly. I stay put in the place where I am. I’m like I was when I was a child. Wake up, go downstairs, and just chill in front of the TV. That’s it. Or I help mum out in the kitchen when she’s making food; or if she needs to go out somewhere then I’ll go out with her. Come back, sit at home. That’s the whole day.

Laptop, movies, games, Facebook, finish. Turn the light off, go back to sleep.

If I didn’t have Headway to come to, the treatment that I’ve been having in rehabilitation would’ve just been a waste. I would have been locked in my room, locked in my four walls. That’s Mahmood.

The other thing I enjoy is my little birdies. I have budgies and cockatoos in a cage. Every morning I give them water and stuff before I come and have my breakfast. When it’s hot, I put them in the garden and give them a little shower, which they don’t like: but I go, “It’s hot. Have a shower.”

In my bedroom a few times I’ve seen them screaming. When they start screaming I look up. I understand that they’ve seen a cat – or sometimes when the budgies are outside, the cat will come and sit next to the cage. You should see them. They go quiet – no ‘che’, no ‘choo’, no ‘cha’.

I just laugh at them. I go to them, “What’s wrong? Why aren't you screaming? You were screaming.” And my cockatoo is looking at me, he’s proper giving that angry look that says, “Move the cat away. You know we’re scared that it is going to do something.”

But bless the cats, they don’t do nothing. Once another cat came from somewhere else. She came up and tapped the cage, and my next-door neighbour’s cat came and they had a little cat-fight between themselves. “How dare you come near this cage. Keep away.” And the cat went away.


Yesterday no-one was home so I thought I’d let the birds have some exercise. I let them out of the cage so they could fly around in the room. They enjoy that. When they get tired they come up to my feet and peck: “We want to go back in!” Then I’ll bring the cage, I’ll open the doors from the top and the sides and they’ll fly around screaming: “Yeah, the cage is here!” One by one they go inside by themselves. 

It keeps me a bit complete. It keeps my mind off a lot of things. Stress and thoughts. When the weather’s hot I’ll go outside and sit with them, talk to them. They’ll speak in their language, I’ll speak in mine. The talk just goes over their head. We don’t understand each other but we get the message across.

2 Youngsters on bikes

It all started with a few shoplifting incidents in the area close to my shop.

There’s an off-licence nearby where we used to top up the key meter for the electricity. They ripped off his till at closing time and he lost out on £2,000. He warned me, “Watch out – there’s a lot of these incidents happening.”

We started noticing youngsters on bikes and in groups roaming around. I’ve got a betting shop next to me, and a takeaway, and I went and warned them that something can happen, “so be careful”. Luckily nothing much happened at the betting shop or the takeaway, but the target became me.

When the shoplifting took place, I was alone. A group of them came – about five or six of them – and ransacked the place. I rang the police straight away, I rang my brother, who got there before the police.

When the police came I told them what had happened. They asked for the CCTV copy and I gave them that. The officer said there’s nothing much they can do. I thought nothing of it at the time.

3 Always in a giggle

From childhood I’ve always had this thing that I want my own business. I had a lot of things in my head, pipelined. I would start off with a small thing, increase, and go to something big.

We bought the shop when I was about twenty-four years old. My aim was to open another shop of my own. I was talking to my accountant and legal friends, just getting advice from them about how to go about it and where to start looking. I had looked at a few shops nearby, but it wasn't meant to be.

Before we set up the shop I took two years out from studying and helped my uncle set up his business. First he taught me the practical side: merchandising, how to display stuff, pricing. Then he started showing me book keeping, cost control, buying, everything.

Bless him, I learnt a lot from him. He lives six, seven hours away so it’s once in a blue moon that I see him, but he rings every second week.

Whenever I’m with him I’m always in a giggle. He’s one of those people who can play with words and put a smile on your face. Every time he throws a comment at his wife I start laughing, and he’ll always say to my mum he finds my words funny too.

We start laughing and I'll say, “Man, you don’t understand. You just make me laugh and I enjoy your company.” And he’ll say, “Do I look like a clown to you that you enjoy my company?”

4 Boys

One day a few older boys come in to the shop. One’s communicating with me and the others are monitoring the cameras. He says to me, “You got my boy arrested.” For a minute I was confused. “Who?” And another of them says the same thing: “You got my boy arrested. The other night at your shop.” That’s when I understood who they were talking about.

“Well,” I said, “they came to shoplift and took everything from my shop.” And one goes, “You should have let them.” I got a bit angry and said, “Why - was it your shop? Do I work for you that I should let someone take stuff?” I was standing behind the counter and one of the boys came really close to me, face to face, and said, “What you going to do if I take stuff now?” Two of them had their hands in their pockets. In my mind they might have something. I’m alone, I’ve got nothing to protect myself. I went quiet.

Luckily for me my brother walks in and says, “What’s wrong?” I told him. One of the boys goes, “You should’ve let them do it. Things like this happen.” My brother said, “Why? How would you like it if I came to rob your house and ran away?”

The boys left. As they went, one of them gave me a kind of a look that said ‘watch your back’.

I calmed my brother down and told him to let it go. We rang the police. They came after about five hours, took a statement and said they would monitor the CCTV camera. My brother emphasised that they’ve given us serious threats: "We want you to take it on board.”

The officer said “We'll do what we can.”


5 Guardian angels

In school I was protected by my friends. There were some problems with skinheads. I used to walk to school with two of my friends. I’m asthmatic and I was late one day so I got to the first one’s house and he had gone. When I got to the second one’s house, he had gone too. So I started walking, and there were these two English boys and their dogs.

At that time I was scared of dogs. As I was walking, one of them got the dog and tried to scare me but – I don’t know what happened – the dog got out of its lead and started chasing me. I ran and ran and ran. An elderly English gentleman saw me as I got near school; he saw I was out of breath and I couldn’t take a step further. I was going to drop. He grabs hold of me, gets me a glass of water and says, “Relax”.

He got the lads to stop the dog. He walked me all the way into school and made me sit down at the table and I think he went to the reception area and told them what happened.

When my tutor came in he came straight up to me. We went outside the classroom and I told him everything. Then he took me to the head of year. I described what the boys looked like. Head of year called them in. Headteacher was there, and the guys’ parents were there, and the only thing the head teacher said to me was, “Mahmood, the decision is yours. If you want I’ll expel them straight away.”

And then I said to my head teacher, “Sir, I do not want to expel them. I forgive them.” And from then till college those two boys were my best friends.

We shook hands and stuff, and every time they walked with me and made sure that no one would say anything. So even in my high school I was protected. That’s the way I had it all the time with my friends. You can say they were my guardian angels.


6 Fear inside me

I went back to the shop later in the evening – normal shop activities happening. My little sister rang – “When you come home can you bring me pizza?” – and I told my brother to go get pizza while I locked up. While my brother and his friend were waiting for the food, I locked up and went and sat in the shop next door.

My brother saw a few guys walking down the street and our friend said to him “They’re going towards the shop." They gave my brother a funny look, as if to say, “We’re just waiting for the right time.”

At the same time there was a big group standing on the corner – at least fifteen heads on bikes, on foot, and they kept looking at our shop. Customers kept coming in saying “Your shop’s being watched.”

Now that put a bit of fear inside me – that feeling that something’s taking place but you don’t know what. I stayed schtum and didn’t say anything in front of my brother when he came back, because if I said it I knew he’s going to lose the plot and do something stupid. But he knew from my facial expression that there was something wrong, and he asked what was the matter a few times while we were locking up. I said nothing.

Outside there’s a boy looking at me and just nodding – “Something’s going to happen but you don’t know.” I ignored him and turned my back to him. Then he started asking other customers if he could borrow a phone. They all refused. He walked out and he was still there outside, nodding at me.

The shop owner asked me if everything was alright. I said, “Yeah, but I don’t know.” He goes “What do you mean you don’t know?” I said, “I don’t know. I hope things will be alright.”

We locked up. We all came out. All of us walked out towards the cars. There was a group, five or six of us, and we saw one of the boys standing at the bus stop, ringing someone. My brother went up to him and said, “We don’t want no trouble. Whatever happened, happened. It's nothing serious.”

This boy was still looking at my brother as if to say “You don’t know what’s going to happen." My brother pointed to me and said, “This is my brother. You know him well. He’s always in the shop. He’s never asked you for anything, even if you are ten pence short.”

After that the guy came up to me and goes, “Boss, nothing’s going to happen.” He shook my hand and he had a smirk on his face, and with his smirk my doubt grew. But I still stayed quiet.

The owner of the takeaway said, “We’ll wait by the shop and you guys bring the cars.” My brother and his friend and one of the guys from the takeaway went to get the cars, and the rest of us walked towards the shop. I had my back towards the railings and we were having a laugh and joke with each other.

All I remember is seeing the traffic-lights change as I was attacked. Traffic starting up again. On my left side I had the takeaway owner and one of the workers, and on my right I had two more workers. The guy came either from across the street or from around the corner. He walked straight towards me and I was looking at him. I can still describe him. He was dressed in a white tracksuit and his trainers had red laces. I’ll never forget how he looked. Even if you put him in a crowd of thousands, I’d still be able to point my finger and say, "That’s him".

Next thing I know I see him unzipping his jacket. He took it out and I saw a flash, a piece of shining metal or light in front of me, that shine, and boom, straight in my head. You know when something just busts? That’s what happened.

I looked and blood was dripping everywhere and I remember that clearly. I shrugged my shoulders and someone hit me again from behind and I collapsed.

As far as when I came a bit to my senses, I could hear screaming and shouting and I heard the ambulance. I was semi-conscious. The takeaway owner’s big brother, he was sitting by my knees, and he was saying to me, “Don’t worry, I’m with you.” And all I said to him was, “I want my mum, I want my mum.”

7 Bullshit Law

The ambulance people come and they put me on a stretcher. They asked me two questions: “What’s your name and where do you live?” I told them my name and I saw him writing something on his hand.

When I was in the ICU ward I only saw like four faces that were saying my name and they put me into critical ward. Wednesday I got hit, Thursday I spent the whole night in coma and Friday evening is when I came round.

Saturday morning when I was proper awake, that’s when I realised what happened to me, because I couldn’t move anything on my right side. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t whisper. I just cried. I cried and cried and cried, and any visitors that came, I couldn’t get up to see them. It was like a dead body but just breathing. And I thought to myself, ‘Rather than being like this, I’d rather just die.’

Brain Injury Specialist Follow-up Clinic


Mahmood sustained a severe traumatic brain injury due to an assault in 2009. This resulted in a left extradural haemorrhage [1] and skull fracture, with marked midline shift to the right [2]. He also suffered fracture to the nasal bones, a left facial nerve injury, a right eye injury, and laceration to the left shoulder.

When the police took my statement they said they would do this, this and this – put it on Crimewatch, do a witness appeal, because they were not getting anything.

One question that kept pissing me off was when they said to me, “Are you going to take revenge?”

I’m against that. What am I going to get out of taking this further? I’m going to have a friend or my brother or my cousin in a bed next to me. Either one of mine’s going to go to a grave or one of theirs is going to go to a grave. And I don’t want that.

That’s what I said to my friends and everyone: "Don’t do nothing because I don’t want to see any of you guys in here. If you want to do anything for me, try and get me justice."

In my life, touch wood, to this day I’ve never raised my hand against anyone, or even raised my voice. I’ve had friends who have got on the wrong side of me but I’ve never said nothing. Even if my own friends are fighting I’d say, “What you lot doing? Grow up, solve through talk, through peace.”

Then police came and said “We’re not putting it on Crimewatch”. Why? “We think it’s not worth putting it on.” “Why?” No answer. I wanted it to be on Crimewatch because they had no forensic evidence.

They had thrown Crimewatch out the scene, they threw the witness appeal out of the scene – that’s when they do a TV thing and get me to appeal with my family – that went out the window as well. And I was getting annoyed, saying, “What is happening with my case?”

When they first came to do the ID parade and I was going through all the pictures, I said clearly, “These are all involved; they’re all involved”. They said “You just look for the one that hit you, we’ll deal with the rest”. The last two, three pages, his picture came up. I said, “Hold this picture,” went through the last two pages, came back and said, “That’s him.”

I identified the person who attacked me and I even identified the people that were with him. They didn’t arrest. They go, “There’s no evidence so we can’t arrest”. They said to me that “the case is in your hands. You’ve identified your attacker. You wouldn’t even have a case otherwise.”

What’s that supposed to mean, I don’t have a case? I’ve spent ten months in hospital, my life’s jeopardized, I can’t work, I have nightmares, I have flashbacks. My life is messed up physically, financially, emotionally, and you’re saying to me the case is in my hands. What are you lot for? Just to show me your faces and never do anything?

In my case they had a good fifty, sixty statements – police, witness, hospital statements – and you’re telling me you still can’t get the others?

I still remember when I gave my first statement and there was an Asian officer – I think he was Indian. He said it straight to the officer that was with him: “The time you’ve taken to do this interview here, within this time the others would’ve been inside.”

The police wouldn’t even speak to my dad and brother, even though they knew I couldn’t speak much and it affects me emotionally. They go, “We only want to speak to Mahmood. We’re not speaking to anyone else.” Why not? I’ve given my family authority, you’ve seen me in hospital, why are you saying this?

Some day he’ll be out, and all of them will reunite again, and this time it might not be me, but it will be someone else.

I’ll tell you now, the case thing hurts me more than the attack.

I still think the police could’ve done something.

I still feel that. Bullshit law, bullshit law.

8 Come out of all that

At home, family say I’ve gone more aggressive. I go touchy on little things and my friends say it as well. Before my injury I never used to care what people say. Never. When I found someone’s talking about me in a nasty way I always used to say, “Rather than you talking about me, look your own way and analyse yourself.”

But now when someone says something, I get emotional, and think, 'If I didn’t have this injury, I wouldn’t be where I am.'

Anything I do now is going to be harder for me.

Outreach Team Discharge Report


Cognitive Difficulties

Mahmood can be sociable and enjoys engaging in conversations with familiar people. However, he has significant ‘hidden’ communication difficulties and presents with a marked cognitive communication disability. Mahmood shows insight into his difficulties, key areas of which included:

Slowed information processing

Impaired understanding of more complex information

Significantly impaired working memory

Reduced verbal fluency

Impaired cognitive flexibility

Reduced inference ('reading between the lines')

Cognitive fatigue

The main aim of the assessment was to explore Mahmood's skills for college. He continues to need a high level of practical and emotional support, and his use of strategies to compensate for his difficulties was limited. He reported that his brain tends to "freeze" when faced with such tasks.

These difficulties impact on Mahmood's ability to self-advocate and present challenges to his return to education or work.

I feel someone else’s pain more now because of what I’ve been through. I’ll never forget the night it happened or the days that I spent in hospital. Ten months in hospital is a long time. Every day after you’ve done your therapies, and everyone goes home and you’re sitting alone on that bed, you ask yourself questions. “Why me? Why did I go wrong? I don’t deserve this.” And even till today I say I did not deserve it.

I’m very emotional. Say you put on any film and there’s a crying scene, I’ll start crying. The other day I was watching a film, I can’t remember the name now, and there was a crying scene and my little sister goes to me, “Why’re you crying?” And I go, “I don’t know, I just feel like crying because they’re crying.” And she goes, “Grow up. You’re old now. You should come out of all that.”

I’m closer to my sisters than to my brothers, because whenever my sisters need anything doing they come to me first and ask my advice. My brothers do what they want to do and then tell me afterwards.

I’m really close with my mum. With my incident, my mum was shocked and everyone feared for her, because she just went into a bad phase.

We all live together. My second youngest brother, he’s working, looking after the shop, and my other brother, he’s at university doing his final year in information systems. So work-wise I don’t harass him, but the one at the shop, I’m always asking what is going on in there. Full detail report of the day.

There are a few details that they don’t tell. Like when customers are argumentative. I know recently there was something like that, but they won’t tell me. I rang one of the persons at the takeaway who I’m friends with. I wanted to talk to him about something, and he mentioned that this is what happened. I go, “No one told me.” He goes, “It was not to be told.”

9 Insha'Allah

I still remember when I came to my senses and the surgeons were doing their rounds. I asked, “How long will it take before I can move?” And they said it will be at least three to four months before I can move a finger. I just shook my head gently, saying, “Nah.” And masha'Allah within a week I got movement in my finger and slowly things started.

By the time I left the first hospital to go to another one I was in a wheelchair, and I was happy because when I do my therapies and they bring me back to bed, I’d say "no". I’d push my wheelchair and go around the ward and go see the therapists sitting in their room, chat to them, start doing rounds again.

Alright, I look like an idiot doing circles around the ward, but I was moving, I was not on a bed, and it helped. It gave me something to do.

Adding all these positives, I was able to say “I can do things." OK, I need a helping hand at the moment but with that helping hand I can achieve things. Slowly, further along in life there will be a point where I won’t need any help and I’ll be able to do things on my own and that will be the biggest achievement for me, that without any help or support I’ve got somewhere.”

I want to get back into driving because that gives independence. I can go where I want. I can do things on my own.

Eventually I want to set up another business, or maybe go into studying and get myself some knowledge. I’ve enjoyed working for myself. It gives me more authority. I can put things to discussion but the final say is mine. I’m going to give myself a year and just concentrate on my recovery, cause I know insha'Allah things will get better. Then I will think of taking the next step.

Firstly my intention is to get back on my feet so at least I know I can provide general necessities for myself. Then bring in another person and look after them as well. I don’t want to bring someone into my life and find out six months down the line that in their eyes I’m not capable of anything.

10 This is happening

At home I try to be as normal as I can so my parents, brother and sisters don’t need to take up unnecessary stress. I’ve been in severe pain and I just take a tablet and stay at home, and don’t say I’m in pain. Because the minute I say I’m in pain everything will be, “Shall we do this, shall we do that?” Or, “Lie down and do nothing.”

Right now all my decisions are being made for me at home. Yeah, they get discussed, but then that’s not my decision. It’s just a verbal agreement. The business is only mine in name now. The person who’s running it comes only once a month, that’s if he has issues in the shop, and my dad and my brother deal with all of it.

In this kind of condition, how I'm perceived matters a lot. I don’t want people to have negative thoughts about me.

Even on the tube I'll be looking around. I know when a particular face is actually looking at me and I know he’s looking at my condition and there’s a lot of things in his head right now. Even when I go shopping with my mum, I’ll say to her, “Look, he’s looking at me like this.” And then my mum’ll say, “You just think like that. No they’re not.” I go, “Trust me.”


Alright, they might not be completely, but I know: he’s seen me walk and the thought that’s running in his head is “Why?” You can tell me not to think like that, but I’m telling you this is happening, and I don’t want anyone to think negatively of me.

Right now I can say I’m slowly coming out of that shell, but I’m not out completely. I still lock myself in my room. Just lock the door and stay there till I feel comfortable and confident to walk out of my room and go sit downstairs.

I’ve still got to get myself out because, OK, everyone has a bit of fear in them. But I can say that after my injury I fought my own death and woke myself up to recovery level. I’ve got belief that Allah will help me and make me strong. He’s helped me up to here and with his help I’ll be able to fight anything else as well.

Outreach Team Discharge Report

Mahmood suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He continues to experience recurrent nightmares, flashbacks and panic-attacks associated with the assault.

During the Outreach Team’s intervention Mahmood reported a number of falls. He was anxious, tense and hypervigilant [3] to surroundings, which distracted him from where he was placing his feet. He has not had any falls recently and reports that he is focussing more on where he places his feet.

11 This little disheartened feeling

Before my injury I was in a relationship with someone. In the girl’s family a lot of things kicked off. She just said, “We’ll have to call it a day. I can’t go against my family.”

I tried to convince her, “Look, let me speak to someone.” She told her older sister everything about me, and her and her sister spoke to her parents. And her parents said, “No.” Simple straight “no.” This was before my injury. So I had this little disheartened feeling there.

We went to visit my uncle back home. Mum and dad said to everyone, “We’re looking for matches for Mahmood.” There’s a few that they showed and I said “nah.” In the end my brother and my dad, said, “We’ve come all this way, there’s no harm. If your uncle shows you one, see how she is.” I said, “No, I don’t want to get married”. Then my brother said, “Dad’s getting old." The family emotional stuff kicked in and I said, “Alright, I will do it for the family”. I got engaged.

There were certain things that I didn’t like about her. She was too demanding. She constantly wanted me to wake up and ring her, go anywhere and be on the phone to her. And I said, “I can’t do that.” I said, “If you want a relationship to work you got to give each other space.”

Yet when she came to visit before my injury we had a serious talk and I said, “What happened in the past is the past. Concentrate on the future and let’s make this work. Because it’s not just you and me - we’ve got family connections and if this messes up it will not just affect us, it will affect them.”

When I was in hospital I got no phone call from her, nothing. All her family were interested in finding out was when my recovery is and what we’re going to do. Are we going to call her to England, or what?

Although I couldn’t speak much at the initial stage, my family came and told me to call her. I said to my family, “Not until I’m out of hospital. I want to recover at least 80 per cent, we’re going to put it on hold and tell them ‘no’ until then.”

A lot of rumours started spreading once I was out of hospital. My ex- fiancée’s parents wanted an update on my situation and a lot of rumours were going home: they were told “He’s not capable of recovering well”. My dad said to them, “Rather than listening to outsiders, it’s best if you come yourself and have a look”.

My fiancée came to England with her brother. They stayed here for a month. My dad still said to them “Don’t rush into it. Get full satisfaction for yourself, then we'll discuss.”

That month that they stayed, me and her weren’t getting along. I don’t know what messages she gave her brother. One day after eating her brother said to my dad, “Uncle, we’ve decided we’re not doing it. My sister’s not happy with your son. She doesn’t want a disabled person to be her partner.”

Obviously it was a shock. My mum and dad just turned around and said, “It’s your decision. We’re happy that our son's with us. We’ll probably get more matches better than we already had.”

Personally it hit me hard. It’s put a doubt in my head. If one family can say it, they’re all going to say it. I just went and locked myself into my room. Apart from coming to Headway, I would not communicate at all, to no one. I just went completely quiet.

I started thinking negatively: “I’m walking with a walking stick, I’ve got a crutch, people notice the limp in my leg. Everyone on the street looks. It puts questions in people’s head. Plus I’m not working. Business-shizness. Everything’s gone.”


12 Two years later

I’ve got my driving assessment in two weeks’ time. Hopefully I should get through it but I’m slightly nervous because I haven’t driven for over five years. Last week we were driving on the A12 and I panicked, so my instructor took me off and we just did side roads and roundabouts.

I think if I drive enough after the assessment I can overcome that fear. I’d probably drive all over England and visit friends. When I was at college I loved driving around. Me and my friends got up to a lot of mischief, bunking classes and going on trips.

After my injury, I want to test my abilities, see what I can achieve, and see how far I can take my fear-level before I say “Ok, I need to stop and calm down.” The other day I went rock climbing. The only time I’d done it before was at school. When I told my family I was going, they were quite hesitant – “You walk with a crutch, how the hell are you going to get up there?” I was very proud of myself afterwards. I’d love to do it again. On the way out, I was looking at people right at the top, and my mind was saying, ‘Go on and try!’ I just had that buzz, that feeling of wanting to do more.

Being at Headway helps me open up a little bit and test the waters. And that helps me become more confident in myself, and say: yes, I can take on challenges – knowing the difficulties I have – and overcome them.


13 Thoughtful steps

I’m looking for a stepping-stone back into work. I recently started volunteering with a housing association, and I’ve just taken on another full day there. It’s good – they’re supportive, taking things slowly with me. I wouldn’t want to sit around not being able to accomplish the life-targets I set for myself. I want to enjoy more of life’s little happinesses that everyone has for themselves. Hopefully if things go well, the next step is settling down. A lot of my friends have settled down now. There’s only three of us in the friendship circle that are still single. The rest are all married and they’re pointing fingers at us saying “Look at your ages!” And we just say to them, “Well, we’ve not found the right person.” They say, “You’ve got to find them, they’re not just going to walk in.” My family say the same: “You need someone to be with.”

If I was to look for a life-partner, or even for a girlfriend, she’d ask me “What do you do for a living?” I can’t just say “Oh, I do nothing apart from my rehab stuff.” That wouldn’t look good. Before I start a relationship, I want to have those questions covered.

There’s a time of life when you can say “I don’t need no one.” Before, I had my guards up, thinking I can manage alone. I wasn’t ready to have anyone attaching to me. But since my sister had her baby, I’ve thought long about it, and I have a different approach now. I do want to have kids and watch them grow. I love my little nephew – I’m very close to him. When I see him I have that inner feeling that I want to hold my own child in my arms. I want to have children before I’m too old so I can grow with them, guide them and support them in life. My family knows I will be a good father. I know myself that I’ll be a good father.

My parents are getting on. While they’re around, I want to have them involved in this part of my happiness and have their blessings too. Dad is hitting 75 and he wants to see his children settled before he closes his eyes.

At the moment we’re renovating the house. Like all families, painting and decorating times, it’s haywire. Everyone’s got their own taste in colours. If you choose a colour they’ll say “No, you’re old fashioned.” When they choose a colour, you say the same to them! In the evening, the colours get decided; the next morning they get changed. Next evening, when we go to B&Q, the colours change again. In the end I said, “Look, it’s mum and dad’s house, let them decide what colours they want” – which did not go down nicely! So we’ve only got one room painted so far.

In the future I want to be where I planned my life before it was cut off from me. I want to rejoin my life from there and take it back to a normal level. Although me predicting it now and what’s going to happen in reality are completely different. I’m just trying to take easy and thoughtful steps to every action and every goal. It’s all planned in my head, but no one knows what’s written for you.

With the help of my support worker, I’m looking for part-time work. Admin stuff – filing, photocopying, emails. I am kind of nervous cause it’s over five years since I’ve done any formal work. But as you meet more people you learn more, because everyone teaches you in a different way.


© 'Mahmood' / Headway East London (2016). All rights reserved

All artwork by 'Mahmood'

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  • [1]. Extradural haemorrhage: a collection of blood between the dura mater (the outermost membrane which encloses the brain) and the skull Return to text
  • [2]. Mid-line shift: the brain being pushed abnormally to one side by the presence of blood or other space-occupying lesion within the cranium Return to text
  • [3]. Hypervigilance: an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity and arousal accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviors whose purpose is to detect threats. Hypervigilance is also accompanied by a state of increased anxiety which can cause exhaustion Return to text