What Happens to Relationships After Brain Injury?

From the National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury
What Happens to Relationships After Brain Injury?

Many survivors and family members describe changes in their relationships after the injury. They may not hear much from friends, co-workers, and extended family members. Others notice that their phone calls, emails, and letters are left unanswered. Some survivors find themselves feeling alone even when they spend much of their time with family members or friends. Here are some of the things people say about their relationships after brain injury. Do any of these statements sound like things you have said?

  • I can't relate to other people. It's easier to be by myself.
  • What happened to all the friends who came to visit me in the hospital?
  • Other people don't want to be around me.
  • People seem to avoid me.
  • My wife threatens to leave me at least twice a week.
  • I wonder why no one returns my calls.
  • It seems like everyone at work has lost my phone number.
  • I haven't talked to anyone in weeks.
  • Nobody cares about me.
  • I don't have any friends.
  • Seems like nobody wants to talk to me.
  • Nobody has any idea what I am going through. They don't understand me.

Why people feel lonely even when around family members or friends?

After injury, many survivors describe feeling lonely — even when they are surrounded by other people. This loneliness may arise for many different reasons.

  • Difficulty talking to other people or understanding what others are saying are common problems survivors face after injury. Communication problems can make relating to other people and explaining your thoughts and feelings very difficult. These problems can lead to feeling misunderstood and isolated.
  • Many survivors feel self-conscious after their injuries. They may worry about being different or less capable than other people. Self-consciousness can make it harder to spend time with other people or seek out new relationships.
  • After injury, many survivors worry about what others will think of them and may feel nervous about being around other people. They may be afraid of being hurt or rejected by other people.
  • Many survivors notice they are more irritable after their injuries. When irritated, they may say or do things they regret later on. Some survivors try to stay away from those they care about for fear of behaving poorly. Family and friends may also avoid you if they are worried about what you might say or do.
  • Fatigue and low energy are common problems after brain injury. Survivors may not have the energy to do things they used to enjoy or to spend time with friends and family. Family and friends may also worry about tiring you out when they invite you to do something.
  • Pain and other physical problems often make it harder for survivors to do things they used to enjoy. You may also have trouble leaving the house, traveling, or visiting other people. Injury-related limitations make it harder to nurture and build relationships.
  • Many survivors are not able to drive or work after their injury. Lack of transportation and money may make it hard to visit others or do things you enjoy.
  • People generally make friends through work or being involved in social or recreational activities. After injury, survivors often stop working and may not be involved in sports, church, and other activities. You may lose contact with friends and co-workers because you don't see them as much.
  • Friends and family may feel uncomfortable because they don't know what to say, how to act, or how to help. Discomfort may make it harder for them to relate to you or spend time with you. Help them out by letting them know about your positive and negative feelings and what they can do to help you.
Posted on BrainLine November 4, 2008. Reviewed July 25, 2018.

From the National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury, Virginia Commonwealth Model Systems of Care. Chapter reprinted with permission from the NRC TBI publication, Recovering Relationships After Brain Injury: The Essential Guide for Survivors and Family Members.

Comments (178)

I found this site trying to understand my spouse who had a brain tumor removed from their frontal lobe. I fell in love with the post surgery person, but the personality issues are the same that most people describe here. I have been ready to divorce several times and see a therapist myself because I don't know how to cope with the bouts of anger, misunderstandings, hot and cold behavior, and the blaming me for just about everything. Just like all of you, I love my spouse, I just wish the moments of happiness that pop up could be there all of the time. Hearing the perspective of the person who suffered the injury has helped too. I knew when I got married that they couldn't spell, made impulsive plans and purchases, forgot much of history, would get moody and threaten to leave me. But I also see the sometimes loving, funny, and happy person too. I don't know if this gives some hope, my spouse's tumor was operated on about ten years ago. today vocabulary is coming back, new skills are coming back, and new memories. We record things with a camera to help their memory, we spend a lot of time forgiving and trying to let go of mistakes. I came here because I wanted a divorce, now after reading each point of view, I think I need to forgive some more and have some more patience. Good Luck to you all and thanks for sharing your thoughts, it really means alot.

My husband got in a horrible accident in May of 2018. He was on his mountain bike going down a very big hill very fast and lost control with no helmet. Honestly, we don’t know what happened. He does not remember and never will. I was absolutely terrified when I got the call that my husband could potentially be life flighted. It is one of the scariest things to hear when you are 2 hours away from the man you love. Thank God for his gift of miracles and love. Also with the help of a dear friend and Sanpete County hospital ...MRI’s, CT Scans and staples in his head. I am grateful his friend was there that night to be with me. We were both scared. He kept repeating things over and over every 3-5 minutes until midnight when everyone left and he fell asleep. Some of it continued into the next day. Doctors said, No Tv.. No driving...nothing. That whole week was a total blur for him. He only remembers bits and pieces but not in order. They put him together enough for surgery on his busted up collarbone and sent us home late the next day. After months of being off work healing from his injuries, collarbone put back together with a titanium plate and screws, me changing so many bandages from his head trauma, taking him to multiple doctors appointments because he could not drive for a while, help from so many people that loved us, bringing in dinners and helping me gets some breaks here and there, and light duty which he hated, he was finally able to go back to work in late September. I thought his going back to work would help make things better; it didn’t. With his TBI it’s hard for him to even get through the day sometimes. It changed him. Everything has changed. We ended up in separate rooms (yes, my choice), complete silence between us due to so many horrible things said verbally and done emotionally to push me farther away. I don’t want to give up. Much to my dismay, he feels life is over and our marriage is over. I wasn’t willing to give up because I saw him in there...sometimes. Instead of being grateful for every day God has given him, he has chosen to stay in an isolated and angry state. I have tried to be patient, I thank God every day he was alive for my daughter and me, try to be understanding when I didn’t understand myself, given him space and worked on myself and my feelings about the whole experience, kept my 12-year-old daughter from falling apart. He has continued to push me away so far that my heart is broken in pieces and the person I once knew and loved dearly is gone. My rock is gone. He is not funny, lovingly obnoxious anymore. No more singing, whistling or coming home and making the house chaotic... All those things I loved about him. I miss him. I feel like a part of him died and a piece of me died with him. He is now angry, easily irritated, dizzy (actually passed out once which I found out was a lie later to keep me quiet), can’t stand loud noises or bright lights. He can’t go to movies, noisy restaurants or parties. He can’t handle a lot of people asking too many questions (especially from me) or people wanting too many things from him. He comes home and goes in the basement away from everyone. He says he hates everything...yells at the dogs. Coco was his favorite dog and all he does is yell at her. It scares my daughter. He blames me for everything. Maybe it’s easier for him to deal with all of this by doing that and that’s okay. He has no emotions or feelings for me anymore or anyone for that matter. My daughter does not know who Daddy is anymore. I have prayed, begged God for help and guidance and I’m lost. After almost 14 years of marriage, a stupid accident has destroyed his love for me and our family. Yes, I am devastated, angry, depressed, confused, and wondering what I could have done to fix this. I’ve realized that no matter what I do or don’t do, say or don’t say; I can’t fix him. I can’t bring him back. No matter how much I cry, beg for him to see a doctor or a counselor he refuses to go out of fear or just does not want to know. I believe would help anyway. I asked for help from his family to make him understand we all love him and are concerned, he has got to do this on his own. I am thankful to those that have supported me, told me it will be okay when I was scared and confused, given me strength when I wanted to give up and Jesus for loving me no matter what. I am thankful for my kids, especially my daughter for her enduring strength to get through school and love for her mom and dad even though we were falling apart. I am thankful the most for my son who has become my rock now. He has a tender and sweet soul. Any girl would be lucky to have him. I know this girl is! All my friends for enough love to be brutally honest with me and trying to talk sense into my husband. Everyone has tried and I am so blessed. It’s been a brutal eight months and trying to be the best mom, wife, friend and work hard at my job through all of this has been tough. I feel guilty asking for so much help and crying to my friends so much. I hope no one ever has to go through what we have been through. Everyone tells me I’m strong when right now I feel like I failed and I’m weak. I hold on to the Lords love and the possibility that I will find peace and love again for me someday. Right now, having my kids and the few real friends that love me in my life is enough.......it will be one day at a time....maybe even one minute at a time but I will get through this. Family is everything but when they don’t want to be a part of your family anymore, love them and yourself enough to let go......I got my divorce papers on Friday and honestly, every ounce of my soul feels like this is wrong...if he would only get help..but I can’t help anymore. Devastated wife of 14 years

I hit got in an accident on my birthday 1/20/94 and I honestly feel alive now happy, motivated, and free full of God love. But I dont feel like I love my wife I feel like I dont know her anymore and I want a divorce any advice?

If that is really what you want and have made every effort to try to rekindle the relationship with your wife. All I can say is be honest, upfront but say it with love. Give it to God. Don’t hide your feelings and communicate with her. Please understand her side and what she is going through. Divorce is not the answer....there is always hope if your both willing to give 110%! Wishing you the best.

I feel your pain I’m too devastated to go into details. M husband of 12 years had a motorcycle accident and now I’m the blame for EVERYTHING. He hates me. We no longer live in the same household. Every single thing isn’t my fault. You’re not alone. I know it’s hard and it’s ok to be weak but don’t stay in that place. It’s hard to mourn the death of someone who is still alive. We will make it through this.

I am so sorry... You are right, it not your fault. You are mourning the death of the person that you loved and who loved you and now dealing with a person you don’t know. Death of a loved one and Divorce are the worst things to go through and I completely understand what you are saying. You feel like you are doing both. I found some peace when he left and can now begin healing with the help of friends, family, giving it to God and a counselor. I wish you all the best. You can’t help someone who does not feel they need help and the emotional, mental abuse is horrible, amongst other things is not something you wish on anyone. We will be okay....stay strong girl!

You are strong and knowing when to let others help is a part of that. I love that you also know to lean on GOD. You are an amazing woman and I am blessed to call you friend.

Love you too my friend....Thank you for being there for me.

It's encouraging we can share our journey on forums like this. Your story is much like my own, but I am the husband. I am in a place I have never been, dealing with things I have never dealt with. All the things I used to look forward to, I now fear. I don't want a life of solitude in a dimly lit room but the further I get from there the more I can count on dizziness and disconcertion to take hold. I am flat, and grieving what I have lost, I do not relate to my wife where it was once seamless. Stimulation the prevalent force at my child's games, my friend's dinner get togethers, restaurants, church, etc., and I haven't got to skiing, boating, travel, but those too.

I am aware I am different and I too so miss the man that I lost. You can't fake joy, charm, and charisma, nor can you mask pitty and depression, and even if I could I have no energy for it.

So, what's left? A survivor of 3 brain surgeries and an amazing women told me, your work starts after the surgery. I didn't die on that table and I am not going to stay where I am. For me, after getting very low, I suppose my shift is to work toward hope, allow myself to grieve, and find things I am grateful for.

If someday I am better then what can I do today and what should I try? I know things will be hard so I don't expect them to be easy or fun and I will try.

I guess I felt compelled to respond to you, b/c it's nice to know others are dealing with the same problems, maybe we don't have the answers but at least we aren't alone.

Dan B
Thank you for you words of affirmation of what I suspect my husband is going through but is too proud or scared to share with me. He won’t go to counseling or doctors. He believes he is fine when we all see he is not. It is very hard to watch and feel helpless to the point of hopelessness. All I can say is try. You’re on the right path. Don’t give up! Try everything! Pray, communicate even when it’s hard or you don’t want to. Do it anyway.
I wish you and your amazing wife the best of luck on your difficult journey. May god be your light and hope for better days to come.

Thank you for your kind words, and you're right about my wife; she is amazing, and I will let God be my light and hope. Your words reflect your quality, honesty, and spiritual strength. I too can identify with not seeking help or advice from counselors or doctors, everyone encouraged me too, but to me, there was no point. I knew the problem, and they couldn't fix it, I wanted back what I had and they couldn't give me that. So pitty took hold. I finally quasi-acquiesced to my brother's insistence and emailed my neurosurgeon, a subsequent series of godincidences followed that led me to see that I had to accept my new circumstances and although I had changed I have never been a quitter and I would not allow pitty to keep me where I was, so wherever this road goes I will fight not to lose anymore and to regain my life, maybe it will be different and for sure it will be a struggle but I'm gonna fight and I'm not going to quit.

I was in an accident Memorial day 2015 since then I have been battling with pain, depression, anxiety and anger. I currently still see typically see 4 to 5 doctors a week. Last year is in serious depression state, I was done seeing doctors, I was done with all treatment. In January of 2018 I finally had surgery on my neck. They fused my vertebrae at 4-5 I thought I was getting better, in all acatuallty I was getting worse a little at a time. As the months came and went I was getting more irritated, angry, verbally assaulting. Then I would get better for a while and then it would be like before only worse. Soon I became all of that as well as physical in my rampage. Soon it was happening more often than before. My girlfriend said she thought it was from my tbi, my son was reluctant to say much. Eventually it got to the point where it was happening every couple weeks. I knew something was wrong but unsure what it was. After several months of this she was at a point were she was done. We were able to patch things up for a while and then one night I lost it completely. I don't remember everything about that night I do remember having uncontrollable emotions and feelings. I was out of control, I broke a lamp, a few small trinkets and hit the wall, that wasn't the worst part. At some point during this rage I hit her head with my head. She let me stay the night and the next morning I got up I tried to apologize this time it went to far. She brought me coffee left me take a shower we talked for a while and then I left. At first I tried to apologize for my actions and I was trying to take care of the things that I broke. At first she was willing but after some time she had put her wall up, who could blame her. We have known each other for most of our lives, we have been together for 3 years just after my accident. She generally sees me once a week, she allows me to hug her and text her with an occasional phone call. As of now I'm in counseling, going to a tbi/mental health clinic and working on myself. I'm not blaming anyone for what I've done although I have asked family and friends if they seen such a dramatic change in me why didn't anyone step up. My answer from my son was we didn't think you would be open to it, more than likely he was correct. So know I'm worried that I may have lost the best woman to ever walk into my life. Before Lisa I didn't know that life could be so simple, I was always a workaholic. Never living life, didn't know what that actually meant. She has taught me more, shown me things that I would have never experienced. I learned that no meant no ( a personal thing) I could go on for days about the things I experienced. With all this being said I know that I mentally, emotionally and physically hurt her. I'm looking for advice from everyone if there is some way that I can give her trust back in me, back in us. Like I said before I have known her for most of my life, we started dating 3ish years ago. I honestly knew from the first time we kissed on our 3rd date that she was the one. I have never been married, I have had some long term relationships but the night she kissed me it was different. I changed for the first time in my life I was truly happy and in love. Does anyone have any suggestions, advice or just general comments on what I can do. I am honestly and truly in love with her. She told me yesterday that love can die my response was that I have seen trees burnt to the ground and yet they find a way back to life. Again I will listen and take any advice you have for me.
Thank you
Richard

hi I am new at this my husband suffered from a brain injury about 6 months ago well he has totally changed ( split personality)..I dont have anyone to talk about this I was dealing with it by myself his family didnt help none and now my marriage is gone down hill I dont know what to do or no one just to talk to I just wish that I had some one to talk to I am just so lost and scared for my husband is there some one that can help me and HELP HIM

Hi. I'm so sorry about your husband's injury and how lonely you are feeling. I want you to know that you are not alone in this. Neither is your husband or anyone else dealing with a brain injury.

My husband suffered a brain injury in 2008 during his last deployment to Iraq. We've been dealing with the ups and downs for 11 1/2 years.

Your story sounds so familiar. Most families and/or spouses don't know how to deal with the after-effects of the injury so they slowly fade into the distance. There are however some of us that stick with it and work hard to figure out a way to get through each day.

I will tell you that I'm impressed and proud of you for reaching out. If you need a safe space to be heard. I will listen.

My husband also had several strokes and has been in the hospital almost 5 months now , his is helping, I do have a ton of friends, but please believe me , it does NOT make A difference , everyone will act different toward you , it’s plus they will judge you for not taking care of him properly ,, so my point better off alone ,, but I feel your pain ,, Samantha a wife still in shock

You commented on my Birthday, which sucked me in to comment.
I, like your husband, am dealing with the results of a TBI. I have changed so much that I can hardly function from day to day. Personality changes is one of my issues as well. My girlfriend reassures me that we will take it day by day and will adjust together as time moves forward. 22 months later, I am worse off, but our love continues to flourish. If you genuinely love this man, Please stay strong for you and him. Try sparking his interest in new creative ways to get his attention, in time he will give you HIS ALL that he can. I pray that you two get through these troubling times. Hold on to your inner strength and good luck.

I know it sounds cliche but get counseling from a therapist. My husband of 29 years had a massive stroke and less than six months later - even though he couldn’t care for himself - he decided he wanted a divorce. Because of his accusations of abuse I had to move out of our home. One minute he was so in love with me and it was like we were newlyweds and the next I’m accused of purposefully causing his pain and problems taking care of himself. His moods would flip flop from second to second. I had to leave to protect myself. I’m still grieving the loss of my pre TBI husband. The only thing that has kept me going is my counselor confirming I am not crazy. Unfortunately my husband had refused all forms of counseling. Get professional help. You can’t do this on your own and keep your sanity. Start off by calling his doctors and get a recommendation from them. I wish you a better outcome than mine.

My husband of 20 years had a TBI in a car accident. Like your story I had to leave him but for his uncharacteristic cruelty. Its been a year and I still cry myself to sleep. He doesn't seem to care at all and hasn't lost a nights sleep I am totally rejected and abandoned. I have a good family helping me. I can't find a therapist or anyone to talk to. I'm absolutely stunned by the complete change in my husband. He was once a funny, happy go lucky, brilliant guy. I don't even recognize him now he is so surly and cruel. He got our home, making me literally homeless. I casted aimlessly about for 10 months trying to get him help or hoping my fellow would return; but it never happened. Hardest for me ks I'm devastated; he's not upset whatsoever. I don't think he thinks there is anything wrong with him. He has no empathy or compassion at all! How do I move on? I'm 65 he is 60.

I have gone through everything you have. Find a therapist and church. Honestly my girlfriend of two years left me for another man. She has a tbi. She does not even care. It hurt massively.

I know exactly how you feel. Get some counseling for you if you can. I am in counseling now and I have lost the love of my life after 14 years. He too refuses counseling and doctors. Feels he is better when deep down he’s not. Take one day at a time and focus on you. I am so sorry for your loss but know you are not alone
Devastated wife of 14 Years.

Its been about 14 years of dealing with a want to not keep on living. I found out i cant get my dream job today.. add stress and a crushed dream to a 23 year old who has been tryed to get his life togather for 7 years doing odd jobs. Im fit in all ways but in part of my brain the hypothalamic part wont cool so out side work in the sun may one day kill me. I cant get hired on. I dont take any pills but i smoke its a catch 22 with my stress. A part of me all my life wishs i died in that car crash. Is this what my life has to work with worrying about stay cool and randomly being awake for days on end then the god sent crash to a hells dream to wake up and worry about how i will be able to work to retirer at 50. Will i even make it to 50. Im not in bad shape im just moody over the smallist things i get confused and forget to drink and eat about every day that can last 10-50+ hours if its 76º+ I sleep 75º- im awake im sleepy while the suns up and wide awake after it sets i have not ever cared for bed time so its the only up side i found. I dont tell anyone about my head pain presser its to destracting to doing any thing like walking or driving it just there some times. T.B.I sucks!!!! For life.

Hi, I too have some brain problems after hitting my head, I found it hard to think that I needed to talk to someone. You need to write down that asking for help is all you have to do for the first step.
Ask anyone who you are with at home or work for help.
Tell them your brain is not working properly. Do not pretend to them or yourself that you are OK.
You might need to keep asking different people till it works.
Things get a lot better when you only concentrate on asking other people to help.
If you can, write down what you need, food water rest medicine doctor. Show this to other people, when you can, look at it and do something on the list.
Ask a friend to buy you lots of easy nutritional food and drink and then rest.
Ask people around you for help.
Accept, meditate, breathing excersises all work for me.
Love peace and hugz from Caroline xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Greetings,
[TRIGGERING]

2 months ago my husband walked into the bedroom and shot himself in the head. Six years ago he was in an accident and suffered a TBI. He went from being a successful businessman to being on disability and having seizures. He had to learn how to read, write, walk, etc. again. He lost most of his friends, his fiance left him and that's where I came in.

I had known him for years prior and even had dated him pre-TBI. We fell in love. Yes, he was different, he was actually a softer more sensitive person than he was pre-TBI. But BUT it waxed and waned. Huge mood swings, ideations, violent seizures, obsessive lying, even stealing - the dishonesty was the difficult part for me but I learned to choose my battles.

We had come so far, HE had come so far. I helped him with his diet, taught him meditation, the list goes on. His seizures reduced massively, and his moods weren't as erratic. We had been engaged since 2014 and considered ourselves husband and wife. I had faith in him. His ex-wife withheld the children from him often, something she has done since the divorce pre-TBI. She was constantly creating dissension in his/our lives. Long LONG story short he hadn't seen or spoken to his kids in 8 months and had been sleeping A LOT! He would often say, "if I ever lost my kids id kill myself." He said he survived the accident and was on this earth because of the love he had for his kids.

A week before his suicide we had gone to his dr. regarding the sleeping, and quite a bit of other concerns. I was worried. I saw signs of depression but never saw signs he would do what he did in the end with me right in the other room. He awoke that morning happy, we had made our reservations for our trip, he hugged me and said he wasn't going to sleep his life away anymore, that we had a life to live together and that he wasn't going to allow what the ex-wife was doing to him to get him down anymore. Later that day he went to the dr.'s to have his VNS adjusted and he came home a different man. I was worried he was going to have a seizure. Maybe he did -- and it created him to kill himself. When things (so I thought) were good.

Since his death I keep finding out from others - that he was stealing, pawning, using pills, and who knows what else. I'm not a naive person and to find out all of this after his death...it feels like I didn't know him. I knew he had these issues but not to that extent. I know he had frontal lobe damage and many other areas of the brain. Impulsivity was a huge issue for him. I just wish I knew if in the end it was an impulsive act, an ideation type of seizure, or what! It doesn't make sense but then it does.

Im sorry for your lose its not easy.

I was in a house fire 18 years ago and hit my head on the neighbor's house as I tried to escape. I lost both my wife and son in the fire. I then had a few grand mals and a tia due to the severity of the stress.

I am now married and have a wife and 2 beautiful children. My wife has been talking about separation. She says she is exhausted. I sometimes have a temper or say certain things in the wrong place. I have already lost a lot and wonder why I still have to lose more. I am trying to improve. I am seeing a psychiatrist, getting a few tools, losing all negativity in my life, being more positive... but every once in awhile it shines through and "boom" my life is hanging by a thread again. I have very few friends but the two that I do have are amazing. I still sometimes feel alone. Do I talk now? Should I say this here...? It's hard but I believe I can improve somewhat but I do miss the old me.

Hi Stephen, have you ever tried a brain injury support group in your area. My husband had a TBI at the age of 17 from falling four stories from a construction site. He is now 65. We have been married 30 years. It has not been easy and at times I wondered how I would survive. We started a support group over a year ago and it has been great to be with people who really understand what we are going through, both for the survivor and caregiver. It is a difficult thing to live with every day.

I am so tired of being compared to a women I don't know, the old me. I have all her old memories, her husband and friends. They all keep knocking on my door and when I answer it they are looking for her, not me. They tell me in polite ways, like "your doing a great job with recovery" "your 60% 70% 80% back to normal." I interpret this is I am not whole, a percent of me is missing and I don't have a clue what I lost or how to attain it, and yet everyone around can see the deficit. I don't want the old me to return, I don't know her. I am sorry she died. To be in a relationship with me, we will need to be reintroduced I am NOT the person you knew before the accident and the person you knew will not return. Yes I look like her, yes I have her memories, but now I am just different. To stay married my husband has to get to know the new me and how my brain now functions. Yes I use to be able to multi task, cook a big dinner, be on time, remember to charge my phone, drive, "think clearly," and was less prone to arguments caused by "small" stress. Well I am not that person anymore. If I am overwhelmed I will need some quiet time, Don't plan on me cooking thanksgiving dinner unless you want it all burned or half thawed hiding in the microwave. The functional tasks are easy for me to see the differences, after all we share the same memories. The personality differences are what always confuse me. When my husband tells me, "before your accident xyz didn't bother you." Stop the comparisons! Just apologize and say, sorry lets make this right. Give me time to think, this is a big one. My brain has slowed down, I can feel that. Too many questions/stress at once and I am overwhelmed. I can't help it that I don't respond, my brain shuts down and my thoughts drift to some sort of meditative emptiness. Were you talking? Shit, forgot to listen again, I often muttered to myself. Don't get angry with me when this happens. Try communicating in a different way such as a note I have the chance to read over and over again to process before I am expected to answer. Don't expect me to be the old person and be pissed when I don't immediately respond or forgot to listen. Ask me for clarification before you get frustrated. I will just stair at you blankly and feel even more removed. I will feel like running away and starting a new life, where the old me isn't expected. The old me and new are similar, so similar that you may often get us confused. Be careful of this fallacy, it only brings sorrow to me. I too have a deep sense of loss at loosing my old self, I wish I knew her, I guess some days I wish I was her. She graduated from college with honors, was happy go lucky, athletic, able to run businesses and manage stress like a champ. The new me falls short, and deep down I know it. But I cannot change it, so acceptance is mandatory. My dreams have had to change, my days have changed, the amount of overwhelmed I feel on a daily basis can be horrible and the fear of the uncontrolled seizures coming back if I do the slightest thing wrong, well that just makes me want to cry. I was an athlete. I still have all her responsibilities, although she took a lot on and a lot of days I feel ill-equipped. Really how did she juggle everything? I just don't seem to have the capacity. Well enough about me and my pre-injury self. Good luck to those in recovery and those who support them. I hope you find the ability to open your heart to the new person whom you share so many memories with.

I feel like you just described me, except I have been lucky enough to not have any seizures. I have had a concussion for over a year now. Some days are good, some days are bad. I feel like so many parts of who I used to be our just gone and no one understands that at all. Some memories are gone some just deeply hidden. My spouse acts like I'm the same person and expects me to be able to handle as much as I used to but I just can't. When I try to I get so overwhelmed that it comes out as anger but it's just frustrating that it's been over a year and he still can't figure out I'm no longer who I was. I used to be so good at my job and handling all of our childrens needs and multitasking. I can't do the job I used to and I miss it so much. I don't mind what I'm doing now but the longer I'm away from my old job the more I can't remember how to do what I used to. I miss who I used to be and how much I was capable of handling but I feel like the old me will never be back so I'm just trying to do what I can and hope for the best. Thank you for sharing, it's reminds me that I'm not completely alone.

I am saddened by reading this post and yet, comforted in knowing I am not alone. My husband became ill with bacterial meningitis in 2014. He was in a medically induced coma on life support for 2 weeks. When he woke, he did not know who he was and he knew I was his wife, but was unable to feel connected emotionally to the world or me (we were married only four months when he fell ill). As a result of this illness, he has frontal lobe brain damage. He also suffered a TBI when he was 19 in an auto accident. It has been a long journey in his ongoing recovery. The calm, confident man I married gone. Three years in and doing better, this May he was hit by a small truck while crossing in the middle of a crosswalk. He suffered a serious injury to his left arm which required three major surgeries in one week. He is in a great deal of pain, going to PT, and trying to heal yet once again. I have learned ways to diffuse confrontations through counseling. He just recently started counseling, too. But, I am human. I don't always do or say the perfect thing. His ability to control his anger when a stressful scenario arises is compromised. He had been doing very well considering the pain and meds he was taking and I think I was falling for the idea his brain injury was healing. I was shockingly reminded that is not true as we were presented with a high-stress situation recently (brought to us by his family who still do not understand his limitations). He became angry, throwing things, yelling, threatening. Someone called the police and they arrived. I was so upset I was unable to preface my questioning with "he has a brain injury". He broke things that were mine. And a day later I was still finding things that had been broken-which made me so upset. I don't think it's the things, but the reality and my hopes that were destroyed. He has a brain injury and this is the new normal. I can't protect him from the stressors of life 100%. I do believe getting a fresh start somewhere else may help as his therapist suggested it helps many people with brain injuries, but the reality is he has a brain injury that affects his ability to control emotions. Here or wherever we go. I miss the man I fell madly in love with. I'm still grieving that loss. I want to move forward, but I'm stuck. I love him deeply. I can't imagine leaving but at the same time I don't know if I can cope with his angry outbursts which seem to be reserved for me. My heart is breaking, again and again.

I have been with my husband for 38 yrs. He has had 2 seizures and brain abscess in the past 4 months, so much has happened in that time to explain.

I am coming to terms with losing my husband emotionally and almost grieving an emotional death from him but still have a physical presence that cant show any love towards me just anger. I am trying to separate our 38 yrs of marriage and start a new relationship with a man who I don't even know loves me or cares if I come or go. I realize he may just walk away one day not realizing the years we had and I will have to let him go because he cant feel or remember he at one time cared for me. Our two sons will have to do the same.
It's very sad but I want him to find happiness again.

I wish I could learn where you are in your healing as I am now going thru what you did and find I'm stuck. I love my husband of 20 years. I do NOT like this cruel man he's become after a TBI. He has no empathy or compassion and doesn't care at all about me. He locked me out of my home and forced me to leave. I cry every night still, a year later....I doubt he's thought of me at all. I can't seem to move on. I can't find a therapist or support group. I have no one to talk to that understands. I pray the day comes that I no longer mourn the husband I loved so deeply. He is 63 I 66.

It is almost 4 years since my acquired brain injury and I still have problems recognizing people I should know-I know I should "know them" but I can't think how we're acquainted or their name. Even after they clarify, I have a hard time recalling. On several occasions, I have introduced myself to the same person within a few minutes....this has caused some social anxiety and I am preferring to stay home so I won't have these awkward moments. Does anyone else have these issues?

I feel like this Everyday! It's been 26 years since my car accident. I was 15 and suffered a severe TBI. I was in a coma a few months and then a rehab hospital for about a year after (in and out patient). I have the same problem...daily. I get weird looks from some people because I repeat myself. (on account and I don't remember just talking to them 20 minutes earlier about the same thing). I have terrible social anxiety. I just keep my mouth shut to avoid the embarrassment. I will get red in the face from the anxiety because I don't know what to say or I'll say something stupid. Because I can't remember what we just talked about or what the conversation was about?? When you tell some people you have a head injury, they look at you like "so?".. they don't get it. They seem to think once you leave the hospital you're just like you were before the accident... I do have a great family who were more than supportive during and after my rehab. I just have old friend really that I call on the phone. She has been my friend since we were about 8 and is a friend in Jesus. She accepts me and can carry on both sides of a conversation lol ...=) so I don't have to worry about what to say. The anxiety tho is a terrible thing... I live it everyday. I have been on anxiety meds and they made me feel even dumber/slower than I already am. I was like a zombie. I went to counseling and they just tell you to take up some hobbies. I took psych testing about a year ago to see where I was and he said it is "story book head injury".. so I guess I'm not alone... but yet I am..everyday. I am married and do stay home to avoid the awkward situations like you say.. I have about 10 minutes of conversation in me and then I trail off.. I smile a lot to make up for my quietness. I don't want people to think I'm snobby. I was on anxiety meds about 6 years and have been off about 6 months. I am still struggling with being off them, but I want to be myself. I felt like I was in a haze when I was on them and didn't care about anything or anybody. I pray daily about my issues as I know Jesus will pull me thru. It may be tough going now, but I know it will all make sense in the end.. =)

Hi Keri, Hold on to your faith for God will carry you. I struggled with being a caregiver to my husband of 30 years. I finally decided that God has us on this journey to learn something and then pass it on to others through starting a support group at our church. I tell our members that we do not have all the answers but that we can support each other in this journey we are on. Good luck.

I use the "Sorry, I've suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm and don't understand or follow what you're saying!! Can you please clarify!! " And then they freak out and wanna know all about your rupture and this is the opportunity to educate!!! And I tell them everything I possibly can in our time limit that we have!!!! It works amazingly!!!!! ;) LOL I use it ALL the time, just yesterday, again lol !!!!!

8 years now since my brain shut down...like yourself recognizing people is an issue I forget names in seconds even if I've met them several times.It's harder when I met them somewhere other than were I usually do, I let them know I have this problem and it's no longer stressful, most will approach me and let me know how they are with a smile. Don't let it keep you in, I felt the same way as you and I'm very much an out door person. I've joined clubs such as photography which helps my memory and I am a member of a sailing club the people in both clubs only know the new me and I have made several good friends. Best wishes John

I've known my boyfriend for over 11 years now. We were friends and coworkers long before we became intimate. Five years ago, he moved in with me. We spent pretty much every day together, we were happy and beginning to our retirement plans.

About five months ago, early in the morning he began exhibiting signs of a stroke. I got him to the hospital in less than fifteen minutes. After a few hours, he was transferred to another hospital in a different town. Although he was coherent, his speech was a bit slurred and he couldn't use his right arm. But, he was alive and in good spirits and he often behaved as though it was just a minor setback. This is a man who'd only had the flu once in the years since I'd known him. Very healthy for his age.

The day after his stroke, his son and brother convinced him I'm nothing more than a manipulative gold digger and since I don't have a "job" he'd be better off without me. (I work at home and made almost as much as him without even getting off the couch). "Bob" (I'll call him that for now), doesn't have a lot in common with his family. He's always been warm, inviting, giving. My kids liked him, my grandkids adored him and were incredibly close to Bob. On the other hand, Bob's family is cold and not very friendly, so we never spent much time around them. They were too depressing/stressful so we had most holidays with my family.

Well, after a week in the hospital, on the day of his release, Bob text me and said he was going to live at his son's house until he recovers and there was no need to pick him up.

I didn't hear from him for over two weeks. I finally couldn't take it anymore and reached out to him, he came over (Yes, he was driiving already) and I drove him to the store to pick up some essentials. On the way there, his son called and threatened to kick him out of his house if he came to see me again. I later learned from Bob, that he had a huge fight with his son that night over me and it set him back a good bit. But, it didn't matter. The kid couldn't stand him being in his home and forced him into an apartment shortly after. Their promises of paying for his medicines, driving him to therapy, none of it came through and Bob was stuck. I reached out to him again and learned he'd been forced to go back to work three weeks after his release. He wasn't ready by any means, but his son left him no choice.

I began checking up on Bob every night and every morning via phone and learned that the poor man had been living off of peanut butter sandwiches. I was furious! I began cooking him heart healthy meals and stocked him up. Communication between was seemed to be improving but every few days, he'd go off about something and it was all my fault. All I wanted was to help him get better/healthier and to figure out WHY all this happened. It made no sense to me. Everything that had gone on with him leaving was so uncharacteristic that nobody could believe it. But, we were communicating still. Then, two weeks ago, he flipped out because my son (teen) wanted to take breakfast to his dad's house for father's day and basically told me to drop dead and has nothing more to say to me. I've literally stood less than a foot away from him in a check out line twice now and he refuses to even acknowledge my existence. It's incredibly painful to go through, but it's a small town and we have limited options here.

I don't understand anything that's gone on. This was my friend. The man who put me back together after my divorce is now a stranger. Some of the people that work for him have complained to me about how mean he's become and they don't know what to do about it. I've explained to them to not take it personally, it's the stroke that's caused it. Even though this man has basically had a miracle come back (no limp, about 80% usage of hand is back, words only slur when he's tired/hungry), he's not the same person I've known over the years.

I don't know if he's angry because it happened to him and not me, if he stopped loving me before the stroke and never said anything. I just don't know and think I may never know. It's hard to reconcile the fact that this silent thing can strike at any time and just decimate everyone's lives in a matter of moments.

Sorry for the long post. This is actually the first time I've ever posted publicly before and I just want to get this all off my chest. Maybe it will help someone, maybe it will help me to heal. Take care everyone.

I was hit by a pick up truck 9/16/2012. I have worked really hard to recover everything I can. My husband has been my rock. Took 4 years to get the right med so I don't cry all the time. Still have unresolved issues but the baby steps over the years add up to a big difference. To the TBI survivor, never give up. May seem like there's no difference until you look back since the trauma. To the care givers, you ROCK! Hang in there. Your TBI survivor appreciates what you do more than they can express. Things may never be the same but there are good times & improvements ahead.

I'm 65 yrs. old and have a battle of my own, had one before and have it now, nothing ever goes away treat life greatly and the battle continues oh well I'm surrounded by loved ones can't get better than that perspective

My husband suffered a brain trauma injury, back in May of 2016, he had a right side brain surgery, which left him on a coma for 4 months. I was with him all thru the time in the hospital 24/7. He went to a nursing home I was with him through that ordeal. He wasn't being taken care of, he came down with an infection and dehydration. Since I was not allow to be with him at night to make sure that he properly got taken care, I decided to bring him home on December 2016, I alone have been properly taking care of him, I have been told that I am doing a great job with him, he is recovering. He moves his left arm and he is starting to move his left leg and right leg slowly. He is talking, although some of his sentences are clear and some are not, but he is getting more and more clear. But I love him and hate for him that I tried to give him all the affection I can make him feel safe. I tell him I will always be by his side.

I get you. I know this sucks but it helps me to seriously focus on not taking it personal. I know I'm a great woman. I know the truth. And I know what I've done even if he can't remember me being there . I have to submit to the fact that it might not change. I have to submit to the fact That I'm good enough and I love him until the end of time . I strongly believe that we will see each other after the new system and that he will be healed . And that I am doing Gods work and appreciating God for sending him in my life . I do believe he put a partner in my life . I will do everything for him to honor God as I try to do for my kiddos. And I will do everything I can to improve on the life he deserves & was granted by a God. I think we have to get strong enough in our own self-esteem to know that we contribution to another human being in such an epic way & We roll model Jesus is love for everybody . May you find comfort in that beautiful hope . Ranee

First of all it is your boyfriend's brain injury that is causing him to act this way. His sister says he acts this way around strangers and around you so it tells me he is fearing rejection. He is probably so afraid you won't want him anymore. Just keep reassuring him and as time passes and his brain heals more he will be able to relate better. My husband had a traumatic brain injury at work and wasn't supposed to survive. A year and a half later he is improving and going to therapy every week. He expresses his anger mostly at me but now I understand the anger is fear. I had to get a counselor to help me make sense of things. Your relationship will never be what it was but you can build it better because you now know never to take even one day for granted! Also the doctors had to put him back on some of the drugs to control anger. If he has to stay on them for the rest of his life he understands why. I wish you luck for your future for you and your boyfriend and son. Ask for help. It really is too much to handle on your own.

I did not have what most consider a traumatic brain injury however had several small strokes culminating in a larger one. Thank GOD it was not that bad. I have experienced over some months when the neurologist thinks I was having smaller ones that affected behavior etc much change in relationships..especially with my best friend. He accused me of saying things that I don't recall or could not believe I had said and recently ended our relationship over this. I sent him a letter today hoping he reads it as my doctor told me many of the things I say I don't remember or mean. I hope he forgives me and reads up on the symptoms.

I've been going thru the same thing. My husband had a bad accident August 22 of 2016. He had his bone flap replaced November 8th of 2016. During his coma he had a stroke which was unnoticed because of the paraletics he was on. He will get better once he gets his bone flap back on his speech will get better and his anger. It does take time my husband still has good days and bad. I'm just lucky he is still alive. Be aware your boyfriend might start having seizures. My husband suffers from epilepsy now. You're not alone and read up. Most people get divorced after a TBI. Our loved ones are never the same. However I will not be added to that percentage rate. God will see us all thru. Xoxo

As concerns the TBI, I actually believe my left brain function is stronger then before. The loss of affect was temporary. I have many friends and a loyal partner.I had a TBI from a bacterial infection in 2008. It was an aneurysm in my right frontal lobe. Before the TBI, I had endocarditis, requiring an aortic valve replacement. I spent 90 days in hospital/rehab, before being diagnosed with a failed heart valve and had a redo surgery. All total 115 days in hospital/rehab. Just prior to the illness, my father had died and I was replaced as a CEO of an international company. During my hospitalization, my wife visited me every two weeks, but my sister and nieces were there weekly. My children were 1 and 3 at the time. At the last days before my re-op, my wife served me divorce papers. When I called her in desperation the night before, she told me she wasn't about to care for an invalid who may need his diaper changed daily. We argued and she told me she hoped I died in surgery. Fortunately, I was at a very high level of function intellectually and had a good baseline of health and genetics and made it through with no complications. I was considered disabled by a neuropsychologist and out of work. Living with my sister, I made frequent visitations to see my children. At that time, I realized my ex was involved with another man and had likely been cheating during my hospital stay. I became extremely depressed and suicidal. I spent 3 years in legal battles over custody and property and 3 years in talk therapy. After the divorce was finalized, I received joint legal and physical custody of the children and got the house back. Being unemployed and lonely, I began to date woman I met through dating services. I met a woman in NYC and our dating led to a relationship. Long distance, but filling a need for both of us. We dated for 1 year and she moved to California where we lived together and later married. She helps with the children and understands my employment dilemma, being over 60 and stigmatized for the TBI. After 8 years, I have started my own business and am active again intellectually. I do have minor PTSD from this TBI, but not limiting my energy or sharpness. I have a low level depression that has persisted for 9 years, which nobody recognizes. I live for my children, but had they not been in my life, I would have ended it. Now, I have a reason, even an obligation to live if I want them to grow up knowing they were wanted and loved by their father.

Being a survivor of brain surgery, and having terrible hints come my way at that time personally, your post gives me hope. Hope that there's more to this new life, that there's new love out there, and that life is worth living. So thank you. From the bottom of my broken heart.

nice one here love to post in

I can relate. The not-so-funny thing is, the girl that I thought was my best friend was in a car accident a decade ago and we had similar struggles but since she got a lot of help in recovery she seemed to have little empathy because I've had to struggle on my own after I had a stroke shortly after I was born almost 50 years ago. So it's hard to socialize, I'm shy, self conscious, and I often get criticized or berated if I say something "wrong" so I've learned to talk less. Now I live alone. The only person who talked to me was the store clerk who told me how much the merchandise was that I was buying. No friends. Nobody happy to see me. Nobody cares if I come or go. And yet, I'm told if I reach out, that is "seeking attention" and is therefore wrong. 

My situation is very similar but my husband's injury was combat related. I try so hard to excuse his lack of emotion...neglect of the family and complete disregard for all responsibility...i just want my husband back but I spin my wheels more every day.

I suffered from multiple concussions. The first ones were typical and I felt better a few days later. My last injury I was training Brazilian jiu-jitsu and had my head slammed so hard on the mat that I leaked brain fluid out my nose for three days. I had stuttering problems, weird jerking movements, couldn't drive because I would get lost and confused and the list goes on. It has been over a year and a half now and I am feeling better. The depression I felt after the injury was so strong. I to had a total lack of emotion. I basically didn't have the capacity to care. Everything in my senses was off. Lights were to bright, sounds seemed to echo and make me dizzy, cooking was nearly impossible because I lost track of time and forgot what I was doing moments before, lost in familiar places with horrible anxiety attacks when I couldn't figure out where I was or why I went somewhere. Additionally the judgment of others weighed on me. I kept being told I was "getting better" but that only made me wonder what I had lost. I grew to avoid people I knew before the accident because I felt like I was constantly being judged and I also wasn't able to communicate with them like I use to. It felt to me like familiar people were knocking on my front door and when I answered it they were looking for someone else. Someone I didn't know, yet it was me and yet I didn't know who I was prior. I was just left with the knowledge that I am not the person that they once knew, who they hoped would return. They were disappointed in the new me, always hoping I would change back. I finally had to make new friends. The pressure to be someone else who I didn't know was just too much. My husband and I have had our struggles as he gets to know the new me and mourn the loss of his wife, which happens to still be me. Really confusing. Although, oddly enough I don't think I would want to be the old me. I still have memories of the past, just not the same personality. After my accident spending hours alone doing nothing but laying around recovering I had a chance to review my old memories and they infuriated me.How did I put up with his cheating, his lack of time spent with the kids.....The old me apparently didn't think those thoughts. But looking at the memories the new me was pissed. We went thru counseling and I slowly got off some horrible seizure drugs (that I think strengthened the depression and flattened my daily ambition) and we started to work things out. At that point my reasoning skills were still not great as I was told. My husband has had to learn who the new me is. It kills me inside when he misses the old me, it feels like betrayal; especially because I don't know that women and people keep coming to me looking for her. I guess the best advice is to accept him for who he currently is, you can't go backward. Work on going forward together.

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