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Clair Bennett

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Clair Bennett

Clair Bennett

My diary is more helpful than I ever could have imagined

When Clair woke up in hospital after suffering from encephalitis, she had no idea that the strangers around her bed were her closest family members. She was struggling with her memory and was unable to remember the past year of her life.

Three years on, Clair, 28, still suffers from short-term memory loss, and struggles to remember the time that has passed since her injury.

Below, Clair shares how her daily diary entries and regular note taking have helped her to rebuild her life after brain injury.

I was first told to keep a diary by my doctors while I was in hospital, but I HATED it. I thought it was a stupid idea and I couldn't see how it was going to help me.

But I soon realised how useful it was and I have no idea what I would do without it now.

Appointments

"I am unable to work since my injury, but I have a weekly routine to keep me going which is listed on a page at the front of my diary.

"I try and keep my diary updated as the day goes by, just adding little things now and again. I have a tick list to make sure I haven't forgotten about appointments, and to remind me what I've already done so I don't repeat myself.

"For example, I tick off things like when I've eaten a meal, else a little while later I'll forget and start eating again.

Names and faces

"For the past few years I have been volunteering at a local charity shop, but I still couldn't tell you any of my co-workers names!

"I have a page in my diary with a photo of everyone and their name written underneath which I check regularly while I volunteer.

"It gives me confidence and reassures me to know that if my memory fails me, my diary is there to help me out."

Recipes

"After my brain injury, I found cooking challenging because I would forget which steps I had already completed. I would peel carrots, put them in a pan to start cooking, then forget what I had done and start peeling carrots all over again.

"Now as well as my diary, I have a folder full of recipes. I choose my recipe and rewrite it step by step, so I can tick off each task as I complete it. I also write out the list of ingredients, which I cross off as I do my food shop.

"I love it as I now have a little folder of recipes, and I have learnt new skills through cooking.

Social life

"When I visit Headway South East London and North West Kent, I enjoy group activities, playing games and doing arts and crafts.

"I was very nervous about going at first, I was concerned that I wouldn’t remember anyone because of my bad memory. But I’ve found it doesn’t matter; everyone has their own problems and they are all so happy and friendly.

"When I've finished an activity, people remind me to fill in my diary so I can look back and know what I've done.

"Despite now having a horrendous memory I feel very lucky thanks to family friends and supportive places like Headway.

A trip down memory lane 

"When I first started keeping my diary, I hated it. But now it makes me so happy to look back over the past few years and see all of the things I've done and how much I've achieved.

"I wouldn't be able to remember all of that even if I didn't have memory problems! It's such a lovely record to have."

To anyone who is struggling to write a diary, stick with it. I find it more helpful than I ever could have imagined.
 

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