- Do you ever find yourself ignoring what people are saying because you need to say something and don’t want to forget what it is so you’re repeating it over and over in your head?
- Do you ever find yourself forgetting what you were going to say because too much time has passed?
- Do you ever find yourself forgetting what you were going to say because you were concentrating on what the other person was saying?
- Do you ever find yourself seeing mouths move but not hearing what they’re saying?
- Do you ever find yourself unsure of when to say what you want to say because there’s too many people talking at once and end up not saying it?
- Do you ever find yourself wanting to leave the conversation or room because too many people are talking?
- Do you ever find yourself feeling stupid because you don’t know the right word for something you want to explain?
- Do you ever find yourself feeling sad because other people seem to be talking to multiple people (and in loud places) with no worries?
- Do you ever find yourself stuttering and feel embarrassed?
- Do you ever find yourself asking people to repeat what they’re saying because you switched off?
- Do you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed because someone has said too many words and it confused you… Information overload?
- Do you ever find yourself struggling to speak when there’s too much noise around?
- Do you ever find yourself getting frustrated because the words you’re saying in your head come out as utter nonsense?
- Do you ever find yourself feeling embarrassed or angry when people ask you what you do and your answer is you can’t work because of your brain injury?
- Do you ever find yourself feeling embarrassed when people ask you what you’ve done today when your answer is ‘nothing really, mainly rested’?
- Do you ever find yourself lost for words when someone asks what you’ve done/read/watched/been recently because you’ve forgotten?
- Do you ever find your mind going completely and literally blank?
- Do you ever find yourself speaking without knowing what you were going to say… No filter?
Welcome to having a brain injury, holding a conversation is not what it was before. It feels like a mission and you go away thinking you could have done better, but hindsight is horrible thing… You must remember that it’s your brain injury that means you’re like this. Having a brain injury exhausts you anyway and trying to hold a conversation just adds to your exhaustion, this is because you have to concentrate more (especially if you’re speaking to more than one person) and in noisy environments it becomes even harder due to noise sensitivity; a very common problem after brain injury.
If you’re really struggling in a conversation explain to the person/people around you that you have a brain injury and let them know you’re struggling. It’ll make you feel better, more comfortable and if they’re nice people they’ll understand.
Never be afraid to ask if you don’t understand something.
Ask questions where someone can talk for while rather than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, this gives you some time to relax and perhaps plan what you want to say next. For example if someone has just started a new job rather than asking “Are you enjoying it?” ask “How are the people you work with?”. You’ll come to learn with time what to ask the more you talk to people.
If there are too many people talking but they’re not directing questions at you just leave them to it, sometimes it’s best not to force yourself into conversation if you’re not feeling up to it.
If you’re in a group of people try to talk to one person only.
Always try to find the quietest seat, a corner table with a seat facing the wall so there’s no people talking behind you if it’s you plus one other person and if you’re in a group always sit on the end of the table… Never the middle because that’s the nosiest seat.
Most of all: Never be afraid to do any of these things… You have to look after yourself.
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