I’m Tony Baratta. A client of mine called me the other day to tell me just how alone she felt.
Why she was withdrawing from her friends
She was used to going out with her friends regularly and having lunches with them. She was a tennis player, and she had stopped going to the ladies’ tennis sessions. When her friends invited her out to dinner or to their house, she’s been saying no. I asked her, “Why? Why are you doing that?”
And she said, “I’m just embarrassed. I’m embarrassed because I’m not my same self. I get tired too easily. I can’t remember things that I know my friends are going to expect me to remember, like their kids’ names and what they’re doing in school and what their activities are. I’m just having a difficult time.”
So I asked her, “Have you talked to your friends about this?” And she said, “No, I’m embarrassed. I don’t think they would understand.” So I said, “Could you please give me the names and phone numbers of your friends, so I can call them and let them know what you’re going through and what I’ve learned through your doctors. Would you mind if I did that for you?” And of course, she resisted.
When I called her friends…
But I was able to convince her that this might be helpful to her. So I called her friends and it was remarkable. All of them thought that she might be angry with them because she was turning down their invitations.
They thought that maybe she was no longer their friend and that they might have done something wrong to affect their friendship. They didn’t understand why she was withdrawing.
And after our discussion, they understood, and they were so empathetic, they couldn’t wait to get off the phone with me and call her to explain. “Oh, we understand. And we want to be there for you.”
When you are trying to recover from a brain injury, you are embarrassed because you don’t feel like you are the person you used to be, and you’re struggling to get back to who you were before. You want to withdraw from society and your life as you knew it before until you are the same person that you were before the injury.
Your friends can help you recover faster
But keep in mind that your friends, if they know what you’re going through, can help you recover faster. They can allow you the time that you need to integrate back into your old routine. You don’t have to do it all at once. It can be little by little.
They’ll understand if you have to leave dinner an hour or so earlier than you normally would because you’re tired. They’ll understand when you misremember one of their kids’ names because they know what you’re going through. And they love you and want to help you.
My name is Tony Baratta, and I hope this has been helpful.