“Yes, I know you..”, or do I? Brain injury makes a mishmash of my memory again.

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Recently I went to the wedding of an old school friend, who I had only recently got back in touch with. As we had moved in different circles for years, I expected to know only another school friend and her husband. But actually it was more complicated than that. I wasn’t sure if my brain injury was playing it’s old tricks on me again.

Should I remember you?

It was easy to see who was the mother of the bride, due to the strong family resemblance with my old school friend. When I went to speak to the mother of the bride, as she is partially sighted she had to ask for my name. Immediately a flash of recognition came across her face, as she was able to place who I was. She was charming, and warm, just like her daughter. But I didn’t like to say that I couldn’t remember ever meeting her before. The bride later told me that her mum said I hadn’t changed a bit. (Seeing as about 15 years has passed, that’s very nice of her to say so.) But I’m not sure if she just had seen photos of me, or if we had met all those years ago.

Since then I have had moments when I can picture the mother of the bride at school. But this could be just confabulations that my brain is putting together. My memory is so woolly, that I’m always trying to fill the gaps with “memories” that have come back to me. So I can’t be sure which are real. Read more about what confabulations are in Confabulation is not lying. False memories due to brain injury.

What it's like struggling to remember if you know someone after brain injury

Meeting so many people, it’s hard to retain details.

I know most people would say it can be tough to remember names of people you have only just met. But on top of that I was trying to remember what I had already said to who. Several times just as I asked a question, I would suddenly realise that they already answered that. I hope they didn’t think I wasn’t listening. I was, it’s just there was so much going on that my brain kept filing things in the wrong place.

The couple of people who knew me well from years ago, said they wouldn’t have spotted I was different. So I can’t expect all the other guests to know if I say something daft, it’s just a brain fart.

Even when the grooms sister told me she had suffered a stroke a few years ago, I didn’t mention my traumatic brain injury. As it still affects her mobility, and probably many more things, I didn’t want her to think I was suggesting I know everything. I realise this is stupid, and it’s highly unlikely she would have taken it that way. But I was nervous and was keen to ensure I didn’t cause offence. As I explained in Suddenly my filter has abandoned me after brain injury, I can put my foot in it too often. Because I struggle to recognise what is and isn’t tactless, my way of dealing with it as just to not say it. Better to be safe than sorry.

Trying to get on with it when you're not sure who you know thanks to brain injury

But I made it work.

As James and I are due to be going on holiday in just a few days, he couldn’t take the time off work to attend the wedding. But as I was so delighted that she had invited me, even though me hadn’t been in contact for years, I went on my own. It was a 2.5 hour drive to the wedding, and I decided to go down that morning and drive back on the same day. That’s a tall order for anyone. I planned on at least waiting for the cutting of the cake and the first dance, before slinking off.

By then I was already zoning out, and the loud music pretty much finished me off. So I said my goodbyes and slid out to my car that doesn’t have a working stereo. I must be the only person I know who would put up with a stereo that doesn’t work. But actually I find driving takes so much attention, I can’t listen to anything at the same time anyway.

Once home I pretty much collapsed. But I’m really glad I went. Although my brain injury did it’s best to make a fool of me, I think I got away with it.

Other related articles:

Do you ever struggle to recognise if you know someone or not following your brain injury? Do you style it out, like I did, or just be honest and tell them?


Do I know that person or not? My memory is a mishmash thanks to my brain injury, so I can't remember properly.
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4 Replies to ““Yes, I know you..”, or do I? Brain injury makes a mishmash of my memory again.”

  1. I struggle with this a lot. And I fake my way through all the time- I wish there was a quick an easy explanation for ‘I hit my head, and I have no idea if I know you or not’, without making it awkward! The first time I realized this was a few weeks after the concussion and I said to a girl in front of a room full of people ‘I’m sorry- we haven’t met, I’m Pamela.’ To which she gasped and told me her name- I then realized I talked to her many times before, but her face still didn’t register. Easier to fake it, but it’s exhausting.

    1. Oh Pamela, I can only imagine the embarrassment you must have felt. But I hope she understood not to take it personally.

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