News • 10 Apr 2019

Brain injury – the last thing you think about until it’s the only thing you think about

Jaq, aged 33, acquired a brain injury after a road accident in 2004. With the support of Open Minds and his family and friends, Jaq has found acceptance as a transgender male and continues to work towards his goals.

Everything changed for Jaq when brain scans confirmed he had acquired a brain injury in a road accident; he began to have memory loss, fatigue, and even lost his sense of humour initially.

Jaq, from Morningside, QLD, has received support from the Open Minds PHaMs team for a year now and has just celebrated his two year ‘maniversary’ – the anniversary of when he transitioned.

Jaq said: “It’s been two years since I transitioned to a man. My Support Worker, Leon, and other Open Minds employees have been completely non-judgemental. They will walk into my house and see my transgender flag proudly displayed and they are just totally accepting of who I am. 

“We hangout and talk, and they treat me with respect. They have never tried to change who I am, they’ve only ever encouraged positive change in my life.”

Leon works closely with Jaq to link him to local LGBTI friendly groups, to enable Jaq to socialise with people who have similar aspirations and goals.

Leon works with Jaq to develop a plan, then roadmaps step by step how Jaq can reach his unique goals. Leon also provides emotional support, which is especially valuable when things don’t go to plan for Jaq.

Leon said: “Jaq is so respectful and engaged, we all absolutely love working with Jaq. I’ve noticed that he has genuine enthusiasm and a positive attitude towards working with Open Minds, and he’s capable of doing many things because of this. He has a very giving nature and his heart is in the right place. How he cares for dogs really demonstrates this caring nature.”

Jaq has a few casual jobs that he does for work: dog sitting, driving, and being a traffic controller, however even simple tasks can be tiresome when living with a brain injury.

Outside of work, Jaq’s hobbies include playing the Bass Clarinet in a wind orchestra, helping his Dad to fix cars, and spending time with his dog and partner.

Jaq is currently studying a Diploma in Community Services, and completed a Diploma in Business last year with more online study on his list of goals. 

Jaq loves to stand out from the crowd and his blue hair is symbolic of Dory from the popular finding Nemo film.

Jaq said: “I dye my hair blue because I really relate to Dory from Finding Nemo. We both have memory problems and whilst it’s difficult at times, I always try to find the humorous side and make people laugh.” 

Jaq also lives with depression and PTSD, and Leon has assisted Jaq with applying for NDIS funding.

Although his applications have been unsuccessful on two occasions, Jaq is hopeful that his third application will gain him a support package from the NDIS to enable him to work towards his goals.

Jaq (right) at Christmas with partner Monica (left) and his dog, Diesel
Jaq with his Bass Clarinet

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