TBI 101: Behavioral & Emotional Symptoms

TBI 101: Behavioral & Emotional Symptoms

Why behaviors and emotions can change after TBI

Depending on what part or parts of a person’s brain are injured, the individual may experience significant behavioral and emotional changes. The frontal lobe, for example, helps govern personality and impulsivity. If damaged, there might be no “braking mechanism” for self-control. A person may find he cannot control his anger or aggression. He may also make inappropriate comments to friends or strangers not realizing they are off color.

Or the opposite might happen … someone’s personality may become muted or seemingly emotionless. This is called “flat affect.”

Some of the most common behavioral and emotional problems people with TBI can experience include:

“Mood swings”

Some people call them mood swings because for people after TBI, emotions can often be hard to control. Because of the damage to the brain, a TBI can change the way people feel or express emotions. A person may feel she is constantly on an emotional roller-coaster — full of glee and excitement one moment, devastated the next. Another person may experience unpredictable bouts of laughing or crying, which have nothing to do with how the person is actually feeling or what is going on around her.

It’s crucial for people with TBI and their families to understand that these behavioral and emotional changes are a result of the brain injury; they are not the injured person’s fault. That said, dealing with these issues can be even more difficult, especially for family and friends, if the person with the brain injury is unaware of the fact that he is different from how he was before his injury.

What to do

Consulting a neuropsychologist or behavioral therapist is a good place to start. They can help with strategies like learning to breathe deeply when you feel you are getting angry or intolerant or like redirecting your thoughts and actions to more positive choices.

With support and patience, people with TBI can learn to take action to regain a sense of control over their moods and behaviors. Here are some practical suggestions for people with TBI who experience emotional highs and lows:

  • Let friends, family, and coworkers know about your difficulties with behavior control. Enlist their help and support. For example, they may be able to help you better understand what triggers inappropriate behavior or emotional responses and help you learn how to avoid those triggers.
  • Confide in friends or family members. Sharing your worries helps lift the burden.
  • Clean up your messes. If you have acted inappropriately, apologize.
  • Tell people to walk away from you if you have an emotional outburst. They can talk to you once you have calmed down.
  • Avoid people, places, or situations that trigger inappropriate responses.
  • Join a support group or find a peer mentor. Talking to others who have “been there” can help.
  • Get regular exercise. It’s good for the body and calms the mind.
  • Try learning to meditate to keep your mind clear.
Posted on BrainLine June 13, 2017.

Comments (84)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

Keep going its not easy I'm from England and I have cptsd and tbi rely on yourself it's a tough battle and life changing but you'll never know how strong you are until strong is all you have God bless take good care :)

hi my name is Dean Arnold and I have cptsd and a tbi study it take control as best you can I've been living with cptsd for 46 years and a tbi for 3 years
I'm from England and were very behind with the above keep going rely on yourself and don't give in
With the life changing experiences be strong and keep going you will thank yourself to study it.
I wish you all courage peace and positivity never let it define you huge hugs to y'all :)

On January 5th of 2020, I was homeless at this time unfortunately, I was asleep in my tent in Tent City in downtown Houston by Minute Maid Park when a man, during morning rush hour traffic at 8 am, was texting and driving and ran a red light, hit a car, then a ruck, and then t-boned another vehicle and for some reason made a sharp left and ran up under the freeway and ran over me in my tent. I was immediately awakened in horrifying pain, feeling like my legs were being ripped to shreds and twisting and rolling everywhere. I thought a bomb had gone off because of the smoke and fire from the undercarriage of the truck setting my tent and belongings on fire. It lasted I'm told for over 2 minutes because he got hung up on trash cans and wood and fencing. When he finally stopped his truck, I was at the bottom of everything and had to be dug out by other folks there.

My left leg was broken in 6 places with the bones protruding from my leg, my left knee was shattered and my left ankle was so shattered that my left foot was turned around facing backwards. My right leg had a huge hematoma that would eventually within a month, turn into a very large hole that went more than half-way into my right, inside of my calf. I was in a wheelchair for months. I spent almost a month in the ICU and hospital and was then transported to a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center in Houston where I spent almost all of 2020 learning everything again. Learning to walk, bathe, dress, etc. It was devastating because I have always taken care of me.

Almost immediately, I knew something was not right with me though mentally. I would look at pictures on my FB that I had taken at Christmas in downtown Houston and of other places and could not remember being there, however, I know for a fact, I was. There was something else though that was going on that took me a minute to put my finger on and it happened in a weird way that I figured it out.

You see, I was that mom. I did, went, what, where, and didn't matter how, but did everything I could to make sure that all 3 of my children had a childhood because I did not. Every morning and every night, I told my children I loved them. I was always there. Now, on the day of my accident, no one came. The hospital staff and doctors as well as the patient advocates called all my family and left messages, no one showed up. But whats weird is that when I woke up 4 days later and they told me this, I was completely unemotional about it and did nothing to reach out to anyone...not even my children. It was after I went to the nursing home at the end of January and was there a week, I finally realized that I was seriously fucked up in my head. Mothers don't just stop caring or loving their own children, that is not normal behavior. I know this but I remember a few of the nurses asking me if I had any pictures of my children and I pulled up my FB on the computer and began showing them but I realized I didn't care about those people, my kids, my family, my friends...it was as if I had some sort of "emotional amnesia"?? I can remember that I had feelings for these people but its like I don't anymore at all. I haven't reached out to anyone really in my past, not my children, my siblings, even my best friends. Its like I don't care about any of them and it doesn't matter to me where they are or that I am not involved in their lives at all.

I reached out to my PCP and she told me that I needed to get over it...this was a month and a half after my accident. I talked to my nurses about it and they told me to leave it up to God...I put my fist through the wall I was so angry with them. I reached out to my health insurance, my attorney, moved and got new health insurance and talked to them. Got a new PCP and was begging them to send me to a freaking neuropsychiatrist or forensic psychiatrist, and its like I am fucking talking to myself. I know I need help but what the hell happened to my head and my emotions? Its like I have completely disconnected from who I was and I am a completely different person. I don't have the same favorite colors, I dress differently, and one thing is that I don't put up with shit from anyone at all. I am extremely unfiltered now and I wasn't this way before. Does anyone know anyone who has this going on with them after an accident or TBI? I am completely lost here and have completely lost all faith, hope and belief in the medical community as a whole. I don't know what to do or where to go now. Can anyone point me in the right direction or maybe to a website that has information about symptoms like mine because I've started self-medicating to get by and that's not the person I am or want to be.

Thank you for any information or direction in advance, Kimberly

26 years ago after a motorcycle accident, coma, months/years/lifetime of recovery and the trials and tribulations of TBI daily life it amazes me that even though I have managed to find ways around most obstacles, every once and awhile there are people who still feel the need to point out that ‘Nice scar on your head (subdural hematoma) or neck (tracheotomy) you have a brain injury, that explains a lot’. People are so ignorant and unable to even think of a few of the things those of us with TBI deal with everyday.
Everyday. We can be the most loving, caring people and want to be but the triggers that are common like repeating things to us we ask not to be done, trying to change our routines, moving things we like to have in places for any reason, making comments about TBI in any way other than a question, continuous criticism for no reason and negativity, these are only a sample of on going items I have tried to adapt to, try to keep the same or constant and usually am successful.
Is it really that bad? Is it so hard to try to be positive in life and with us most of the time?
Some of us that have found ways to succeed in life really just want to be accepted as normal not singled out for having scars and TBI.
Pretty sad that instead of being nice and just getting jobs done people you think are your friends still feel the need to criticize something they no little or nothing about. Very glad I do not think or act like that.

My husband had encephalitis in 2013. He always had a temper and had a wandering eye for women before in his teens and early 20s but post encephalitis coma he's been getting progressively worse. He was showing bits of empathy here and there, now I see absolutely none. The only time he's happy is when he's cheating on me (serial cheating) behind my back, as long as I don't know. He is angry, rages, lies, manipulates, creates stories and believes them, controlling, possessive and completely heartless. He once loved me very much. He was kind. We did everything together. He will carry on in his abusive episodes and then all of a sudden act like nothing has happened and I have no reason to be upset by his behaviors. I'm a complete mess. I don't have much hope left for my marriage but I also can't find many stories like ours so I thought I'd share mine just in case there is someone out there going through this too.

I need help my wife of a wonderful twenty two years asking for a divorce I suffered a TBI it will be two years on Agust 2 2022 we never went to any consoling or groups do to coved I’m in such gilt that I went back to work so I could pervide for the family way to early I’m doing everything in my power to change my wife mind I want to do consoling anything!!!! I know this is hard to make a comment on but I’ve been a really good father for are daughter and a husband she suffers anxiety my daughter is a mess I’m just try to get them healthy again but hard when I’m the one with the TBI any ideas on what I can do just to get them to read up on TBI I’ve learned so much in a short time just buy reading for one night

There should be a local support group in your area. See if you can get to them just to sit in, and learn more.

Healing takes a long time, real rest is important, and your family will need to read up on this too.

You are doing great just from I saw here. Still empathetic, trying hard… but going to need some support network.

Family therapy is crucial. Have a neurologist talk with your wife. Set up a treatment plan with your therapist that addresses neurological deficits. You CANNOT do this alone. You shouldn't try to. Reach out for help NOW from therapists, doctors, anyone you have access to.
And pray.

My son was pushed out of a tree house at age 4 and landed on concrete breaking his jaw in 2 places. Prior to the accident he was happy, vibrant & outgoing. After the accident he was different...no longer happy-go- lucky. That was 26 years ago. He has been suffering with depression for the last 8 years and is very bitter and angry. Is all of this connected to his injury at age 4? Is there anything we can do to help him? He has tried meds for depression but doesn't like how they make him feel. He feels like nothing in life ever goes his way, he is very negative about his life and future. I just want to help. Any advice? Thank You

My son has had a TBI and he may have had a brain injury back then. I would talk to his doctor to see if they can order a brain MRI. They will tell you if he suffered a concussion or TBI. I had a concussion as a young child and I’m learning through my son’s treatment my injury has caused me issues with the ability to retsin what I read.

I have a question. I’ve been married to the love of my life for 5 years, and I’m at a point of considering divorce because out of no where for no reason he will become very emotionally abusive and just completely destroy me. He goes from wonderful to a complete narcissist with no empathy looking at me and treating me like an enemy. Nothing will lead up to it. Then after a few hours, he’ll flip again. I’m emotionally exhausted and refuse to be abused. I’m not myself anymore because of it. Yet, I love him more than anything and we have a child together. While at work today, one of my clients mentioned that he’s getting divorced because ever since his wife got in an accident she got a brain injury and became a Jekyll and Hyde abusing personality. That client has no idea about my marriage. But I thought, how unconpassionate to leave your wife of 20 years because she suffers after an accident. Then I remembered something my husband told me, when he was 20 he got jumped by a group and they tried to kill him by stomping on his head and he went unconscious but survived. Is this actually what’s going on? Can it really make someone suddenly abusive for a few hours out of no where and have no feelings for me at all like he’s a psychopath during it? If that’s why, I’ll stay and support him and get help. If he’s just a narcissist and power trips because he’s insecure, I’ll leave. But. Wondering if it’s actually TBI- he also suffers from depression and short term memory problems. Thanks!

That sounds like me. I thought it was me alone that suffered the Jekyll and Hyde personality complex and I've come looking for help with it. Its emotionally unstable personality disorder and it is really hard on relationships and friendships. I'm at the point where I have no friends and try to stay away from people lest I tell them off. When my mood changes back I feel like shit and try to apologize but the damage is done.

I can completely relate to the things you have described. My husband has had 4 TBI's over the course over 20 years. We have been married now for a short time, but have been together for a few years. In one instance he can be very sweet, loving, caring, but in the next and without warning can be angry, upset, hysterically crying and what I consider abusive or hostile towards me at times, especially if he feels I am against him in some way. You don't always know who you are going to get or when the switch happens. I feel that this is definitely a result of his TBI's and lack of ability to really regulate the emotions or anger. It can be very difficult at times because while I am a caregiver for him, he denies that I provide any care to him. My husband also suffers from depression, anxiety, PTSD, CTE. Based on my experiences alone, I would have to say that what you're experiencing is very much part of the TBI, and from research I have done, and in speaking with my therapist. Unfortunately, that is part of the TBI, but it is different in each instance and depending on what parts of the brain were impacted. In my husbands case, the whole right side of his brain is 'dead' matter. So we try to work on things that help him retrain the left brain and I try to teach him to recognize the anger moments, or the emotional moments so that he can calm them as much as he can. Not always an easy task since the reasoning part of his brain is hindered. He wants to be the best he can be for himself and for us, so we make a conscious effort to work on that. Also me with my patience or certain things that could potentially trigger him to be emotional. It's not easy, but I love him very much and I want to do the best I can for me and for us. One thing my therapist suggested was working on detachment, walking away in those moments of hurt or anger to avoid having it escalate. Then finding a time to be very clear and assertive about the pain you feel. Also not easy, but worth the effort. I hope this helps you.

In my opinion, it's very likely

I'm sure he has feelings for you and I'm most certainly think that you should drop whatever it is your doing this second and go to him and tell him everything is going to be ok assure him that , seems you have to many people around you and all will say leave him the way you tell the story is as if you made a decision but it's ok all of us are the same , I'm the same way being a widow and having 3 people that I loved not here, I have not been the same since but I'm coming around I wish I had someone that understood that , when I'm alone I shout as loud as I can I say her name or gods name sometimes I'm vain , I use to have anxiety attacks if I would get upset in my trouble youth and be like the way your husband got but I make it a point not to let or be around places that will trigger that switch , I've been waiting for someone for 2 yrs now and my body and brain is wired to think that I have to talk to this person I thought was my friend she or he has done everything possible to tell me she is not my friend and will inflict more pain on me by having me wait and wait in this empty parking lot , watching the cops go by slowly for the 3rd time puts me at edge I was putting t in a coma 2 d's within 15 months blacked out for 42 hours once a lol less the second time so I am so needing to talk to this friend that I. Put my life at risk. Sounds like you know that he cares myself its hard to believe that this person would rather see me lost and in pain for

It could be dissociative identity disorder

I am facing the exact same situation so fully understand your pain. My husband has these personality swings but also major paranoid (jealous) delusions. He had a major fall and significant injury to the front of his head.
The hard thing for me is getting him to acknowledge he has the issue and seek help. I have enlisted his family to try and assist as I am the one who receives his outbursts most and am not always able to stand strong in the face of his anger during these episodes.
Praying for peace and wisdom for you as you travel this road.

TbI concessions can cause this kind of behavior. You need to seek a neuropsychologist to have it diagnosed sounds like a TBI or concussion related brain injury acquired because had was not split open to me, yes, this is the exact hate behavior that appears with the TBI brain injury of any kind in too many concussions can lead to the same thing. He probably does not even realize what he was doing after it's done. Explain to him what's going on to help. And video him not in his face but video him and show him when not in episode this can help. And this behavior was probably never seen by the people close to him and can happen years later sounds like brain injury behavior to me. Only one way to find out.

We have a 13 yr old grandson that suffered a TBI in a atv riding accident 5 yrs ago. When he came home no one was doing all the things I had read that would be helpful to his progress or what would be beneficial to his brain recovery. When he eventually went back to school, it was business as usual. No one showed any concern or gave thought to him being a different child. Everyone has failed him since his injury. He has not been interested in school since then. There have been a few events in his life that have not been pleasant for him and add have had no positive effect. The latest situation to add to his problems with school and not doing his work is the Pandemic. I seem to be the only one concerned that he is not getting better and now that he is a teen I do not know what to do to help this kid get it. He has got to do schoolwork. None of the other adults in his life seem to think there is anything that can be done. He is 13. I really don't think it is an option. He is suppose to be doing schoolwork/learning something. The pandemic seems to have given him and many other kids "get out of jail free" card. Temporarily anyway. He needs to be in school. He should be doing work. At one point I had him where he would settle down and get a little work done. That is no longer the case. I don't know how to help him and all the other adults do not seem to care enough to help see to it that we all work together to work on this issue. what do I do?

We did have to pay for a cognitive exam out of pocket, but that led to him being moved into special education program, which was needed.

There was a great variety of ability within that arrangement, most better equipped that I’d realized.

John remained a challenge but we did keep him in public school thru age 21. Still figuring it out at 24…

I am an 84 year old Air Force veteran who sustained back, neck and head injuries due to an Oct 1956 auto accident, requiring a few days of hospitalization. I was rendered a head concussion. I presented claim to the VA primarily for the back condition as well as hearing loss. I have now received notice from a contracted VA examiner to have an exam for TBI It will be held at a round trip distance of 100 plus miles. at at nationally known hotel (Fairfield Inn). Sadly the DO specialty is in gynecology in which operates an office when is not on a VA assignment She works, and resides in Morehead City, NC. My questions is how can an exam for TBI be properly performed 60 years post trauma, and in a hotel room, lacking any medical diagnostic equipment? Please hel someone.

We are getting VA attention for a head injury with post concussion symptoms from accident while on duty in 1971. We have proof of accident in records that wasn’t given attention at their time. It is VA exams that got attention but we had to appeal for a personal hearing to see the veteran and witnesses. Veteran’s family statements. Get an advocate familiar with TBI and post concussion syndrome. Should not need to pay a representative. There are veterans who help veterans to ask at veterans centers.

Hi, my four year s boy was got cardiac arrest as they were doing sergical operation on him. Its one month and he doesn't know what is going on.he over cry at night yet that what he used do when he was very young (from 2 to 6 months. Am confused with this experience.Is again doing what he used to do when he was still or is it also progressing from brain damage

I was in a auto/semi accident 3 years ago. I have been dealing with the physical issues and surgeries for most of this time. Now that I’m through the major stuff the cognitive and behavioral issues are still here and I feel like they may have gotten worse if that’s possible?

My husband has his own anxiety and issues making this all the more difficult. He has told me he’s done with me and all my excuses. He doesn’t believe I am doing anything to make things better. He believes at this point I’m using my TBI as an excuse for just being a selfish b****. I’m sad and overwhelmed, I just feel defeated. I have a horrible time with most everything around executive function and emotional control.

I have quite a bit of deficit with executive function and processing information correctly. When my anxiety is up is very difficult. I don’t seem like I can get a control of my emotions and everything seems overwhelming when this happens. I go from good, to sad, to upset to just crying. I don’t seem to be able to make the right decisions and then everything spirals. I don’t want to be like this and I just want my husband to be on my team. He’s extremely smart but seems to not want to help the situation. I wish he would take the time to educate himself on what’s actually happening before he packs up and leaves.

Wow, I just read your post and was floored. I know exactly how you feel. It's been 3 years since my 1st car accident. It's not fair but how or where do you get the strength. I have good days and then there is bad days... ugh. I had not realized the effect it has taken on me or my family until recently.
My other half is having his own issues from the accident which, like you mentioned adds a whole other layer to coping. Have you found anything that helps you?

I'm 65. First accident when I was 13, then several yrs following. Other hit me from behind and front. I walked away good I thought. Always had headaches. Thought migraines. 4 yrs ago someone else broadside me after running a red light... I have never been right since. Think I had these issues some early on didn't know the difficulties as I do now. I work hard everyday to be me... emotional wreck anxiety thru the roof, and lots of uncontrolled anger.

I have been to university of Kentucky and been diagnosed as tbi and said to have like then football injury to the brain as it was multiple. I have amnesiac episodes, memory and cognative struggles.

Hang in there I do everyday. I'm blessed to be retired now and much more free time from stressors

Turn to God. He will never leave you and understands all things. I am so sorry that you’re coping with this.

I never knew that TBI was a thing until I mentioned a childhood incident to my psychiatrist at the VA about a year ago.
At 6 yrs of age I fell from a tree and struck the back of my head on a large pine root. I was told that I was out for about 9 min. My Doc was very intrigued by this and wanted to know more. When I asked why, he said it was a TBI. An education followed.
I informed him that it was not the first time that I bumped my head. At age 9 I fell from a tall structure and struck my forehead on the concrete. The old lady who saw it had to clean a lot of blood from my face and eyes, and told my mom I was out for about 5-6 min. A doctors visit and stitches followed.
A very short time afterwards,also at age 9, I was stricken with bacterial meningitis and was comatose for 1and a half weeks I was told. As a result I suffered ‘acquired brain damage’. That one the doc and I were aware of.
Finally at age 24, while deployed overseas in the Army, I was struck in the back of my head again by a grapefruit sized piece of metal shrapnel. Blood and stitches again. My pals told me I was out for at least 40 min.
My psychiatrist sort of scolded me and said I should have told him these things at the start of my treatment here at the VA. I simply regarded them as childhood growing pains so to speak. My brother and my friends and I were very rough boys growing up and had many bad injuries. A few resulted in trips to the hospital. We simply thought nothing of them, and couldn’t wait to get out and play again.
I have been re diagnosed since last year with severe cognitive, and motor dis functions due to multiple TBIs and also acquired brain damage From bac. Meningitis. I have some embarrassing issues such as bad speech, learning disability, clumsy walking and falling, severe confusion, facial grimacing and debilitating headaches. There is also a white spot in the center of my vision that never goes away. I can’t hold a job and I tend to isolate because I make folks uncomfortable. They can’t figure me out. Nor could the wife. She’s gone, which I think was in her best interest. I was hard to live with. My oldest son and my younger twin sons are my anchor and my life. They refuse to give up on me and help me a ton.
I am still learning about this and receive medical treatment at the VA. I value the accounts of others like you all. It helps me to understand and function better.
I am so sorry to hear all of your stories and your suffering. I wish I could make it all disappear for all of us. But such is life. Be strong and embrace those who love you most. Almighty God will make us whole again soon.
Any advice is more than welcome.
Blessings to y’all. Thx. Vic.

I had a TBI in 2002 and I have been dealing with mood swings and depression and being socially awkward and distanced when I need to present. I have been married 2x and I can’t seem to hold any form of relationships down bc of lack of sleep I get. I do yoga and meditation pretty much on a regular but I still find it extremely difficult to make it through the day. My current mood is I’m in the dumps...I wish sometimes to just fit in. I look physically healthy but the issues my brain gives me is a challenge...

So I’m 22, I was in a bad car accident 4 years ago. I have a TBI Was in a (Coma). And I’m trying to figure out life with it. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with, because people don’t understand. I have long term/ short term memory loss. I have no feelings. I have anxiety, depression, PTSD, mood swings, and seizures. I don’t know how to control my good choices from my bad choices or to recognize the consequences in different actions. And for me people just don’t understand, they don’t understand my train of thought. Because each day is a new day to me. And I just want to be happy. But I don’t know how to overcome all of this and move on. People just expect it from me, while I’m just trying to make it to the next day.

You’re doing amazing. Some people, maybe even most wont get it, stick close to the ones that do and they can help support you finding your new normal. For now. Once you have embraced that, I bet things may improve over time with your brain or you may find that the unconditional love and support of others, whether they get it or not, is more valuable. Brain injuries are tough, just like brain trauma is from being abused or neglected, then people do not tend to understand their choices or behaviors too. You got this.

Please reach out to a support groups. I know with coronavirus, it is not easy but look up online support groups and services in your area.Something else that might help you to feel empowered is to advocate for others and yourself, that have TBI's.Just that you can reach out tells me your strong.You never know what you could accomplish or who you could help. For an example starting a group in your area,hooking up with libraries, hospitals, schools and your community in your area to bring awareness of
TBIS which could help with schooling, vocational training, and speaking about your experience with others. Believe in yourself, and know your not alone.Best Wishes,Donna

I'm right there with your issues. I'm 38 years old. I was in my accident in January 2012. Coma, family said doctor gave me 5% to live. TBI, broken back, ribs, partial finger amputation. Memory issues seem to have just started more for me. I think it maybe based that my wife, whom I married June 2012, is getting a divorce with me. We have 2 children, my oldest with ASD (Autism) and my 3 year old daughter. I just missed a month and a half of work to go to therapy because I don't understand what I've done wrong. Never abused physically or mentally. I have provided everything for family. I'm working through therapy and it's helping. I did just have a breakdown tonight but I got out of it. I pray that you can find what can help you. I had a coworker tell me that we are a team. I agreed but said that I'm working on ME to make the team better. Wishes for you.

In response to your feelings of being inadequate because your spouse has lost interest in the marriage, I can understand your pain. I do think that there are some people who are more or less addicted to chaos and probably feel more comfortable in a dysfunctional relationship. So security and stability are probably not what will keep them interested and they tend to seek out something newer and with someone there probably less compatible with, so they can experience the high and low level of emotions that come with that kind of relationship. When someone matures enough and overcomes their emotional issues, then they also might seek stability and normality. Just an opinion though, and from my point of view, as to why woman or men for that matter; gravitate to bad relationships with more volatility.

It’s extremely difficult to be dealing with a chronic issue like this at your age. Know that you are a beautiful, valuable person, and that yes, it will take a lot of adaptation and finding alternative ways of doing things. (For example, writing everything down and reviewing it could be helpful, if not implemented already. Cell phones or tablets are very helpful.). You can still have a full life, learn new and fun hobbies, and you can meet some truly amazing people along the way - especially care providers and other people who’ve gone through similar things. Part of grieving acceptance of the injury is fully acknowledging this is your life, but it does not define your value. It is totally not a fair expectation that you can “just move on.” Someone who has not gone through this will not comprehend this. It’s ok to let that be ok, and advocate for yourself, but cannot “fix” someone else’s perceptions. Remember with the teeniest, tiniest baby steps, change can be achieved. Do it for you, yourself, and you, at your pace. Not for someone else. There may be many things that people tell you that you can’t do. It’s ok to challenge the norm that little by little and see what’s possible. Best wishes to you - know that you’re already a fighter!


All I can do is share my story and hope you can find something in it that could help you.
I was in my first car accident in 2005. I was never in a coma or even spent any time in the hospital. But reading your story, I could feel your frustration, because I been there.
My head injury was a closed one, which means your brain hits your skull. I was hit straight on the driver's side, then the vehicles slid sideways.
I found out later because my Bronco wasn't that broken, that is was acceleration, deceleration of the impact. Which simply means instead of the force going into the vehicle, it is absorbed in the body.
I pulled a lot of nerves and muscles, I was in chronic pain, along with a brain injury which I had to figure out on my own because even though I was functioning, I really wasn't, no one told me I had one. Trial and error and research was the key.
I was the scariest thing I had ever gone through at 45. I had short term memory problems and on and on.
One thing for sure, some people might understand, but most, unless they have gone through or have a loved one who has, then they can't possibly know.
I decided that I was going to figure out what was good for me and stay true to it. I started paying attention to what was working and what wasn't. Even if it was a professional telling me if it felt wrong or hurt I wouldn't do it. Ya people get mad, but hey so what!
I would pace myself, sleep when I needed to. Close myself off if I needed that.
I was my own best friend.
I think we all have unseen protection from God or a higher power. I times when I couldn't forsee a situation, I would just ask for help out in the universe or say a prayer. It really works.
The brain is an amazing organ. Doctors would say, " don't know if you'll get back where you were".
Well maybe I didn't get back, but I got a new normal, that I was comfortable with. The brain will on its own time.
It's important to stay healthy, with eating habits and sleep.
So what makes me an expert, lol! Well, I"m not but, I 2017 I got hit from behind at a stop light. The people behind me were going about 30 mph, without breaking. I was 59.
I did not lose consciousness, didn't go to the hospital. kinda the same stuff.
With the first accident, all that happen was like a bee sting in the brain.
This time I got out to look and ask questions and instantly had nausea. Also blurry vision.
What I discovered was another head injury, with a different part of my brain.
I was just as scared as the first time, but I had more knowledge and boundaries dealing with people.
It didn't alleviate what I had to go through.
For seven days or say I slept. Every time I get up I had nausea. This kept up for 6 to 7 months. Blurry vision I still have. And boy that is scary because I was thinking I was going to go blind, even though I have 20/20 vision.
It's been 3 years and I am still struggling, but I am also getting better as my brain does its own healing.
I say, " Why me Lord", well I haven't got an answer, lol! Maybe it's a test or testimony.
I live in Missoula Montana, and they have 0 help for brain injury, except for the association support group.
Like in Durham Nc, they have a lot of knowledge about head injury and clinics and stuff. Who has the money to do that???
I research a lot. I started art therapy a few years ago and collaborated with art with my cool counselor.
It is healing. you can do your own journaling, with collage paint or whatever. It helps you get out of your head and I think it helps heal the brain, at least it did for me.
The second head injury I was in a three year relationship, it ended after the car accident. He was not understanding and wouldn't allow me to heal, so I had to make a healthy choice.
I play my guitar and do my music, even though I have a problem with memory, I never give up. I go at my own pace. Try to stay a steady course, but if I can't I start again, try not to beat myself up. I just get up and show up, and go from there.
This is the most I've shared with anyone online. I hope this is helpful to you, or whoever reads.
Never give up! God has a plan!

I cannot control my emotions
Some friends and family feel
that since this happened to me
20 years I am completely cured
How can I get them to understand?

Same, over 20 years and it totally depends on my reserve, or mental energy. If I do nothing and sleep a lot for several days I can function much better. But still I have just considered myself emotionally bankrupt. Any and all intense conflict, stress, accusation, or even negative energy caused by a family member or someone close enough to get inside my head can drain my mental and physical energy almost instantly. Or trigger rage, uncontrolled shouting, or make me tremble and shake with uncontrolled nervous energy. I simply must avoid all negative energy and toxic people. So I have basically devorced my entire family, some entirely, others less so. I am supported and encouraged by medical practitioners to protect my peace.

In terms of outside stimulus of severe and threatening nature from total strangers I am just the opposite. I have been threatened, assulted, even an attempted armed robbery at knife point and I simply ignored, even laughed and walked away totally unphased. Cool as a cucumber but strangely detached. This I seem to have little control over, or never know how or why sometimes I do, other times I don't get ruffled.

Hi Permalink, I've had TBI all my life since I was a child (for about 45 years) and people still do not understand... though some friends and family member learnt to love me no matter what!

The Charity Headway has been amazing in supporting me through rough patches. They have lots of information and leaflets you can give to your friends and family to help them understand, and for you to learn how to manage your specific symptoms. They also have support groups and specialist therapeutic support (although at present, with the Covid pandemia, they had to temporarily reduce they're services). Check them out at https://www.headway.org.uk/

Good luck and don't give up!

When you abbreviate or use acronyms , define it so readers understand what the acronym stands for.

TBI stands for Traumatic Brain Injury

Thank you. I am still recovering from a TBi that happened from a horse accident less than 2 months ago. Since the beginning I’ve had such issues with feeling overwhelmed with loss of physical and emotional control. It’s improving but I still have bad days. Occasionally, usually mornings, I feel nearly debilitated with frustration and crying for no apparent reason or way to help it. This post has reassured me that it’s not my fault and I’m not alone in this. Things will get better as healing continues and I’m so grateful to have a wonderful helpful husband.

I had a TBI (Coma) when I was 8 years old and have had multiple side effects from it. I currently have seizures and lack the ability of impulse control and various other side effects It has been struggle. I lost my job due to a seizure. I am positive I have CTE. Coping through life with a TBI is hard but not impossible. I many individuals that have provides support for me (Wife, family and Doctors)

I am so grateful for this information. My husband suffered a TBI before we met. This helps me understand as he is not willing to talk about how the brain damage effects him.

I am in the same situation. My 'now husband has a TBI before I met him. We have been together 10 years and Married 3. Every day is a challenge in one way or another.

This information is extremely helpful!! I had a stroke a few years ago (at age 41) and I haven't been able to figure out what was wrong with me me, until now!!!

I recently had a craniotomy and I can’t control my emotions and actions. No one believes me. I’m all over the place and I don’t know what to do

I'm not a doctor or care giver but I do have TBI and can relate to the feelings, frustrations, and experience you seem to be describing. I believed I was having a "breakdown" rather than suffering from a head injury. My loved ones told me to either "toughen up" or expressed their disappointment (those that stayed in touch). You are NOT weak or "nuts". I'm sure you have heard it but go to a doctor. Just having someone confirm what you already know inside will be a huge relief (it was for me). I'm inclined to ignore advice suggesting "professional help" as much as anyone but this is not the kind of thing that lends itself to that. If the person(s) in front of you can't help or don't understand move on to someone who does. Things get better.

I believe I am dealing with someone who has TBI and stand on the other side of this horrible life stealing / mind altering medical illness. My boyfriend has never told me that he had Head trauma years ago and that he might have TBI, but after 2 years of being with him in a relationship ...signs /symptoms got worse and it was very clear that something was not right...I thought I was having a nervous breakdown myself. The roller coaster of emotions/behavior/personality is taking it's toll on me. I see so many behaviors, language difficulties, mood swings, flat affects, the outbursts, poor judgments, impulsiveness, egocentric, risky behavior, and not too mention at times poor hygiene, etc. etc. It is not easy when you are in a relationship with someone like this especially if you are not aware of what is going on. Professional help is required because symptoms can get worse especially if the person with TBI turns to alcohol or substances abuse in order to mask the symptoms. Suicide becomes a enormous risk factor and if they experience more head trauma then than can lead to CTE.....Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is VERY VERY dangerous and can be fatal.
(See the story on Aaron Hernandez professional football player ) I believe he did murder someone but it was due to the CTE disorder and not pre-meditated. It/He might have been triggered and impulsive which led to bad decisions. See help. I am dealing with a person who has yet to tell me if he does indeed have TBI , and I am no doctor or professional in any medicine field but I know what I see and observed enough over a two year span to know that TBI can be extreme and lead someone to turn to drugs or alcohol abuse ----even sexual behavior that can be life threatening to the person with TBI or even their partner. I thought I was dealing with someone who had multiple personality at times, bi polar, or perhaps even a demonic spirit but after reading many articles and stories and observing first hand day in and day out with behaviors of my boyfriend I have come to the conclusion he has sever TBI and because he drinks alot and had more head trauma due to alcoholism and then im scared he has developed CTE and is in his first stages. Unless it is a Brain Tumor which is the only other thing i can think of. However It is tragically sad, but needs 24 hour monitoring and keen observation. Regardless seek help

I am also dealing with my spouse of only one year who suffered a tbi at 6 years old being hit by a car while riding his bike. When we met I didn’t notice any real issues. Right before we got married they started to surface. It has been hell ever since. Mood swings, paranoia, anger, anxiety, violence at times, depression, sleeping to much or up for days in a rage and suicidal, gambling. It is an emotional roller coaster for me and exhausting, I definitely feel like I’m losing my mind as well. I am strong in my faith but at times wonder why me God. He has also turned to god for help and we pray and read our bibles but when he gets something in his head nothing deters him and I get angry and let him know everything wrong which I knows makes things worse but he is relentless and will try to twist everything to negative and I just won’t agree. He drinks more often than when we met and abuses his adderall prescription which causes more anxiety rage and paranoia. Getting help is hard because they have to help themselves and do the work and he can’t commit or focus to remember or even prioritize dealing with this regularly. It took 3 months just to get an appointment with a neuropsychiatrist and the counseling with the psychologist is a start but not making much headway. He is a veteran as well, served in Iraq and Afghanistan which he should’ve never been allowed due to his brain injury, so add ptsd to his diagnosis. He attempted cognitive behavioral therapy but at the time due to covid the VA wasn’t doing any inpatient services so it was phone visits that he didn’t stick to because of our busy life and he didn’t want to miss out on family stuff due to the phone appointment. I am really struggling to deal with everything, I have a business and two teenage daughters and his 5year old son who all need my attention and he himself feels like a full time job. I now have anxiety from never knowing when he’s going to snap or find something wrong, I feel depressed and I’m not working out regularly like I always have because I’m exhausted from taking care of everything and worrying. I feel bad for all he’s been through and how he feels and I know he suffers and doesn’t want to feel and do what he does but I’m wearing down. My health I feel is in jeopardy as well. I just keep praying for strength for us both. Knowing I’m not the only one dealing with this is helpful! Thank you for sharing your experiences!