Now firstly this shows how amazing Amy is - and how lucky a chap I am to have her in my life - but it got me thinking about something my journalism lecturer stressed when we were training - Relevance.
As a journalist, you are taught to cut out fatty bits and stick to what is most important - eliminate chit chat. Since my brain injury, I - and many brain injury survivors I have met at Headway - now find it difficult to socialise, or at least make small talk.
From my point of view as a journalist, maybe it has something to do with relevance - cutting straight to the point - but I think it is confidence, or a loss of confidence. From my experience at Headway, I - and so many other brain injury survivors - struggle looking people in the eye.
One of the friends I have made there - let's call him "A" - is definitely the case in point.
Despite having been through similar experiences, you have to pull him out of himself.
To a partial observer, some may describe it as "getting blood from a stone" - but I have no problem with it - as I know what he is going through/has been through - so I understand.
When you have had a brain injury, you are constantly looking for empathy, understanding or acceptance from society - when someone shoots you a funny look because you have done something considered "odd" in a social situation, you want to scream: "It is because of my brain injury, I am not 'normally' like this." The trouble is this is now the normal. You constantly feel you have to justify your behaviour, and sometimes, your entire injury/existence.
I have used the metaphor from The Karate Kid for doing washing up to strengthen my weaker left hand and I'm constantly looking for other everyday situations which can help my recovery too. One of the things I have done to remedy my lack of confidence is practice small talk with complete strangers.
For example, when I am buying lunch at a supermarket, or when I am at the tills, or need to ask a shop assistant where something is, I try and talk to them as much as possible - which I admit sounds weird!
I'm now probably now known in our local supermarket as "that strange/odd guy" who asks lots of questions - but sometimes I can get away with it as Amy used to work there on Monday and Friday nights while studying for her PGCE so the member of staff might know about my brain injury.
Talking to people is such a huge part of being a journalist so it is vital one can do it. Not just as a journalist but as a person, a person living in the real world and trying hard to make a positive difference in society. So I will continue to say ‘how’s your day going?’ ‘nice weather isn’t it?’ and every single time I will remind myself I have achieved something great!