I used to enjoy socialising with my friends, at work or an evening out. But even now, almost 2 years after my traumatic brain injury, I struggle with groups. There are so many reasons why this is difficult for me. I hate it needing to turn down kind offers for events, but I have to.
Socialising in groups means too many conversations to follow
Trying to get used to having a massively shortened attention span, like me, and following what someone is saying is tough. But add in several conversations happening at the same time, and it’s too much. I find I get distracted by hearing a word or two that someone else said. Then I’m trying to workout what they might be talking about. Oh but the conversation I’m having isn’t over. Yes you’ve lost me now, what did you say?
I’m not stupid, I’m just slow
As many of my brains pathways are damaged, thinking and processing takes a lot more effort than before. It takes me time to think about what you said, let alone a reply. I get there, and other than the fact I struggle to find the words I’m looking for, my response is still the same. But when you have met up with friends, and the buzz is flying as this group are excited about socialising, you don’t want to be stuck with me. I suck the energy out of the flow as I slow it down so much. So I can’t blame people when they start up conversations with others, and I’m left like the lemon that I am.
All the concentrating wears me out
I get tired, and although adrenaline might carry me through the event, I pay for it later. The headaches and eye aches are awful. coupled with the cognitive fatigue, it can wipe me out for a week. And I mean I’m struggling to even get out of bed I’m so bad. I can’t string a thought together, not even that I should try taking some more painkillers.
This aftermath is the part that only my partner James sees. If I do decide to go to something, I know he’s thinking of both sides. Yes it’s good it have that social contact, but he knows it’s probably going to cost me more than dinner.
I can cope with a couple at a time so much better. It means there’s just one conversation for me to follow. And I don’t mind if they do most of the talking, in fact it takes the pressure off me. It’s not that I’ve gone off socialising. I just have to weigh up the pluses and minuses of each situation. That’s pretty much the same for everything when you are living with a brain injury, you have to choose your battles.
Do you find socialising in groups works for you? Please share any good tips.