Great Barford teen helps launch new platform for PTSD sufferers after almost dying of meningitis

"Take as much time as you need - there’s no rush with recovery"

By Clare Turner
Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 12:56 pm

A 19-year-old from Great Barford has shared her experience of recovering from meningitis for a new peer support programme.

The series - called Meningitis & Me - uses online videos to provide advice and has been launched as part of Meningitis Awareness Week (September 13-19).

For Jessica Baigent, her life changed in March last year when she fell ill.

Jessica Baigent in hospital

Initially thought to be Covid-19 with doctors asking if she been abroad - Jessica was quickly placed in an induced coma when she began having seizures and she was treated for deadly bacterial meningitis and septicaemia.

Thankfully, she survived her ordeal without any immediately obvious long-term after-effects - but was soon diagnosed with PTSD.

She said: “I remember a month or so after leaving hospital, I was in the garden with Mum and I just told her, ‘I don’t feel like myself anymore.’ She told it was OK to ask for help.”

She said: “For us, that was a nice moment, because it was like – OK, now we know what’s going on, this is why I don’t feel like myself.”

Jessica and her mum Tracey

On the video, Jessica shares her experiences of PTSD, headaches, tinnitus and concentration issues.

Rob Dawson, director of communications, advocacy & support at Meningitis Research Foundation, said. "The invisible after-effects of meningitis can be hugely significant, and survivors may feel that they don’t know where to turn.

“We hope that by sharing her experience of mental health struggles following meningitis, Jessica’s story will be comforting to others in a similar situation.”

Jessica added: “I would say, take as much time as you need. There’s no rush with recovery, everyone’s different. The best bit advice I got was to celebrate the small things.”

Bacterial meningitis and septicaemia is a deadly disease which acts fast and is very difficult to detect. It can kill in less than 24 hours, or leave survivors with life-changing after effects such as deafness and disability.