So, let's talk emotions. Before my bleed,I like to think I was cool, calm and collected. Ok who am I kidding? Let's just say I was a bit more together, emotionally. Now, however, it's a completely different story. The control I once had over my emotions no longer works as well, this is one of the less obvious results of my brain injury. Most of the time it goes unnoticed because it all plays out internally and away from the eyes of the world. But it is definitely something that is worth talking about.
I go through a daily roller coaster ride of emotions from the moment I wake up in the morning including uncontrollably sobbing at things as insignificant and as tiny as television adverts, which I never would have done before. I mean fair enough if it's a soppy Meg Ryan movie or Leicester Tigers lifting the Heineken Cup, yet again, but not the things that normally push you towards the kitchen to click the kettle on.
Through my job as a sports reporter I am used to standing within large crowds of people at sport matches, whether that is lambasting a rugby referee for an atrocious decision at the top of my voice or simply fighting my way to get to the bar to order a drink. You certainly can't grow up in a family of five, like I did, with an older brother and sister, without having to fight to have your voice heard at the dinner table. Now though, being out in public does, I hate to say, put me on edge a tad. Not through any fear of injury or physical confrontation, of course, but at the fear of the slightest little thing setting me off blubbering again.
I feel this is an important point to make because most people would not know that this is a big consequence of something in my brain not working quite so well. The outside world has no idea of the inner turmoil that is unfolding.
As a result of this, my girlfriend, my family and I have developed coping methods to deal with these soppy situations. These come from a combination of online research, talking to other brain injury survivors and just simple trial and error.
Two of the main techniques we use are firstly; distraction, where as soon as Amy or my family sees or senses me about to breakdown, they try to get me to take my mind off whatever has upset me. This can be done in a couple of ways; simply just talking to me about something else so I don't get trapped or caught up in a weepy whirlwind. Secondly, I have constructed an effective breathing technique, which simply involves slowly inhaling and exhaling to calm myself down. But as a side effect it does slightly sound like I am in labour.
So if anybody does see me out and about in town then please have a funny joke or story prepared so I don't make you feel awkward when you see tears filling my eyes.