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

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 (150)

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.

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.

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.

I'm with ya girlfriend, my husband had a stroke and went blind! 8 TIA attacks, 2 more full blown strokes, and then he fell. He had brain surgery and he was not the same after that! Two years later he fell again and I was asleep. I heard nothing. Another blow to the brain. They put him into an induced coma for 5 days. He survived!! I should say WE survived all of this! I can't go to the grocery store and he thinks I have a boyfriend. How would I have a boyfriend? I tell him I can't even get my hair done. And why would I ever want another man to take care of? We have been married 30 years. I hate to say this but it's going to be a long road ahead for you and your son. And when people try and tell you what to do. They are not in your shoes, you are. Not them! Daily, hour by hour ... I've cried a river I have PTSD from all I have been through. I feel like a soldier with shell shock. what is going to happen next? He's up all night and wakes me all night! We are not nurses, we're wives ... but wait, are we wives anymore? No. We're nurses!! That's how I feel ... I cry all the time to relieve my stress then my eyes hurt. I don't know how else to relieve the stress. Text me back any questions if you want I will talk to you anytime. k god bless you soldier

On thanksgiving of 2016 my boyfriend of 8 yrs (whom i have a 3yr old son with) got into an accident while riding a dirt bike. A woman crashed into him causing him to fly over his bike and land face forward. For a month he was in a coma with life support. I was there by his side every day through the night, on days off work and even on work days I was there before and after work. I would eat at the hospital and come home in time to put our son to bed. I saw his first twitches, felt his hand squeeze mines, saw when he first opened his eyes, cried and tried to communicate....I was there! It was a unique connection we had. He was transferred to a rehab 2 hours away from were we lived. I would go alone, with his mom, and with our son on certain occasions. I was there on Christmas, and New Years Eve. He was getting better and I was hopeful. I was his personal cheerleader. When he wanted to talk on the phone it was my number he called. I would call 3 to 4 times a day. He came home and everything was great for the first couple of days. Three days ago he started acting like he hates me. Everything I say or do is wrong. I feel rejected. I talk to his mom and she said I have to excuse him, that it's the injury, and his brain is like a baby right now but I feel like that is not the case. Everyone in his family walks on eggshells around him now. His sister who I tried to get clarity from says he is different now and she explained more but within that conversation one thing resonates that she told me, only two things set him off strangers and me. When she said that I felt like shit. I felt like running and screaming. I was talking with her when my other line beeped and it was him I was one block away and rushed home, got in and answered. He was mad, He claimed I cheat on him while I work and that I let my job come between me, him, and our son. Because I leave my son home with my parents he gets angry. He forgets that I need money for our son and constantly accuses me of cheating. Sometimes I feel like giving up. But I love this man with every cell and molecule in me. He gets surgery again in a couple weeks to replace a piece of skull that is missing. As of now he wears a helmet. I don't know what to do. He constantly says that I should be so lucky he is with me and that I lost a good man and that he will find another. But his mom told me to disregard that remark. Can someone help me please? I feel like everything I did counted for nothing.

You're not the only one girl. I was in a motorcycle accident with my wife of 15 years and right before that I found out she was cheating on me. I can't tell you how many times I felt suicidal but when I see her there dead all that didn't matter anymore at that moment. I just wanted my love back. She's getting better. Times get hard very. Often as I sit and she gets sidetracked and I steer into our past but I look at her now and she realizes she had another chance. She is even doing way better in life itself. I so hope. Best of luck to you and some men will always be that way.

My boyfriend of 5 years lies in icu after a car accident on 9th December 2016. At the accident scene the police gave me his belongings and I found out he had a secret cellphone. I went through it only to discover he has been cheating on me with 3 women. He was on his way to see one of them according to phone records and the place he was found at. I come here to see what I may have to deal with when he wakes up, I'm scared that he won't be himself, I'm angry at him. I don't want to abandon him because I still love him. We have a daughter together, I want him to be better for her too. But with his betrayal and the anger I sometimes feel towards him I wonder if I'll make it through to the other side of him living with TBI. I need a story of a miracle. Please share somebody.

I can relate. I have floated in that boat and will for the rest of my life. Very lonely. I have worked an extensive amount of years. I completely agree with you. I have had five brain injuries due to faulty recalled windows that were not removed. Each day is more than a challenge. I won't stop fighting heads up :-)))))

On Sep 21st, 2016 10:24pm somebody (anon) wrote: 'each day is a choice. We can spend it feeling angry, hopeless or decide to bring hope to someone else...'

Maybe they are lucky enough/not injured enough (have enough help) that they CAN choose every day = all sorts of choices. Lucky them.

Some of us CAN'T and I'm very sick of people blaming ME. TOTALLY unfair and WRONG.

Today I'm in so much pain, exhausted, cold (10 C when I got up in 'home'), my teeth hurt (no dentist), my eyes hurt (opthalmo/neuros refuse to help), my neck feels TERRIBLE pain and my lumbar (now totally flat so squishing nerves to legs = numb & more muscle loss), still living out of boxes (been moved on so often), place a mess & dirty chaos. No cooker, told to write letters ad infinitum, threatened with expulsion/homelessness... a CHOICE to feel bad? Get REAL. Go bully somebody else.

Go preach to people who DO make bad choices, don't judge us without KNOWING our circumstances. How DARE you judge things you clearly know nothing about?

I want a telephone number to God. I want His phone number because I need to ask Him a question. I need to know why did my husband have to sustain a brain injury. On December 24th of this year it will be exactly 17 years ago that he was involved in a bad car accident that was caused when the sun glare blinded him and he missed the Stop sign on the corner that caused him to run through the intersection and crash into the bus. Not a single bone on his body was broken. Not a tear on his skin did he endure. Nope, only the injury caused to his brain which changed him forever. The anger, the lack of control, the sudden impulses, dear God, I cannot handle this. It doesn't get better. It really doesn't. Not in our family. He feels that he is okay, but he is not. I get blamed for EVERYTHING. When I tell you that I am the most patient, understanding and compassionate person there is I am telling you the truth. But I can't handle this anymore. I had a horrible childhood and I feel that I already paid my dues. The suffering that I bore during my childhood years should have been taken into consideration before God allowed this TBI to be thrust into my path. I miss my husband, who he used to be. How he comforted me, protected me, loved me and cherished me before he changed into an angry monster. We only had 3 years together as a couple before TBI came and destroyed our lives. I wish I could understand what God's plan is for me because no matter how I analyze it I just can't understand. Please, if someone has God's phone number, please share it with me. I'm drowning in tears... 

Life sucks. Since I fell off a roof in  2001 and spent 6 weeks in a coma, people have done whatever they can do to rip me off, screw me over, cheat on, stab in the back, etc.. People are the worst thing on this planet and I have to find reasons to still want to be here every single day. Relationships are a yeah right.


“The dynamics of our relationship had entirely changed…our lives turned upside down and things would never be quite the same again.”
from www.traumaticbraininjurytbi.wordpress.com www.headbraininjury.wordpress.com

There is hope. My brother has a TBI and is doing great. 4 years ago he shot himself in the head, had a 0-5% chance of living, and ended up making it. It was a long road of recovery, about a year and a half-2 years, but he's doing ok. He still has shrapnel in his head, walks with a limp, has memory loss, and can't feel certain sensations (stomach being full/empty etc). My mom is one of those people that is very caring, but also is like--you can do it, I'm not doing it for you. So it took my brother almost another year of living with her, and not having a bed (she refused to "set him up" so he would get motivated), he hated sleeping on the couch, he did feel sorry for himself at times and got frustrated and said some mean things to her, but she just kept reinstating the fact that he needed to make it on his own. He got a job as a manager at a job placement office (which is what he did before the incident), and got his own place, and recently even bought himself a new car. Makes good money, and they love him at the company. He adjusts things to accommodate his "new brain", like writing things down so he doesn't forget, challenges his brain and keeps the stimulation up by doing games like Sudoku and crossword puzzles, and even though he did lose all his friends and ended up moving to a new location (started anew to avoid the weird stares in his small town), he has kept adamant in trying to better his situation with family and people. Is he the same? No. Do we realize it? Yes. But he wouldn't give up and made it work with his new brain. So yes, I believe there is hope. I believe there is a way. Not saying it's the same for everyone, but just ask yourself, what will YOU do to live with your new brain? It is possible. :)

I have been truly blessed to have the waiting rooms in the hospital taken over by friends and family... Now I am almost 2 years out on the road of recovery and the kind and closeness carries on! For those in need of closer friendships and family members, be honest, tell them how you truly feel!

My family has been amazing support but still I find myself lonely every day. We need to find help for this not just medication

I survived a brain injury and I realize I'm considered "lucky" but it really doesn't seem that way the majority of the time. I've managed to find two extremely amazing women. And I somehow ruined both relationships. Along with all others whether romantic, friends, even most family. And the family that I do see a few times a month. I've tried talking to them and they just don't say anything back. I get made fun of because I never get anything that everyone else always does. Some of them point out loudly and publicly how consistently I do that. Basically saying I'm dumb. And maybe I am but it's not fun to ever go anywhere because of it and when I do I don't want to talk. My last girlfriend (I really loved her a lot) she made me feel that way constantly. That took my insecurity about it to a new level! I think she only stayed as long as she did because I spoiled her a lot. But that changed me again. I feel like I could never possibly be someone anyone could ever love. And that's hard to deal with. Really really REALLY hard to deal with. I also have got to the point I don't know how to be me again. My memory is gone. I barely remember any of my own past. When I'm in a situation I feel like I could be me it's like there's something invisible holding me back and I don't seize the moment. Always alone no matter what. It sucks! On the bright side I'm an artist in everything I do. Initially I lost a lot of talent but through a lot of loneliness I've honed & expanded my skills! I own a barbershop now, a salon, two rentals, and a house I'm trying to flip now. Also got into chainsaw carving. I love it. Almost gutted myself in the early stages but I'm a lot better now. Still have the scare though lol. So I do better financially now, but I suffer intensely in about every other way. I like to imagine I'll meet someone amazing that is ok with me being dumb, and doesn't make me feel alone. This is gonna have to happen with me never going anywhere other than work, and the funniest part is I'm a barber lol. So I don't meet many single women in that field of work. So I guess ya just gotta accept solitude and try to embrace it however you can.

I have read many of your stories on here. I realize, I am not alone. Even though most of the time, I feel that way, so do many of YOU. I also realize how blessed I am. Many of you have been through a great deal. I do know what it is like to feel hopeless, alone, like giving up, but ... that was the day I stopped looking at my situation and I looked up. Then I looked around and slowly began to reach out to others even if it was the smallest thing, a smile (which you have to think about when you have a TBI). Will my life be what it was prior to my TBI? No. I have learned to accept some things and there are days I still cry. I can not speak for you, but each day is a choice. We can spend it feeling angry, hopeless or decide to bring hope to someone else, who knows....it just might make some changes for YOU! Praying 4 U!

You have my kind regards. I am also a brain injury survivor and have had a few bumps throughout my journey of life. I had a brain injury when I was 15 I was assaulted and I am currently 19. Nevertheless I have managed to pull through and still seem to face similar problems concerning my communication with everyone around although I have managed to overcome those problems. There were times when my friends didn't pay attention to me and I was disregarded by them leaving me lonely at school on top of the fact that I went one year back due to failing my exams. This was worsened by the fact that I was bullied and also by the fact that I was a year back and could see the progress of my friends without me. I have now overcome these problems thank Allah as I am a Muslim. Although I have managed to be much more popular and more socially involved I still face problems keeping in contact with newly made acquaintances. Some people don't recognize that I have a problem and regard me as an intelligent person although I do get people avoiding me. I do believe I act a little too serious and find it difficult to break ice with new friends especially when alone with one person. I can easily be funny and joke but that depends on who I am with. I still have a long way to go , although it seems like just arrived from a long voyage. I guess I need to set sail again and this time need to be more prepared for storms ahead as well as have sunscreen if it will be sunny in the sea. Anyway I wish you the best and just advice your husband to get out of his comfort zone and find something to do in his life.

I have a TBI from the war 11 years ago. Since then I have not been the same. I PTSD and all of the problems that come with it. I'm about to lose my wife cause I can't stop lying to her. I love her more than anything in the world but I used to never lie except for little white ones. I try everything to be honest with her and I keep falling back. I've read that TBI'S can cause a person to do it. I just really need some help but I'm afraid if I tell a Dr. about anything. I have a fear that I could be put away from my life.

My significant other had a TBI in 2012 and at first it did not seem to have changed much about him other than he was slower and his memory was not good. He was still able to communicate, bath, dress himself and feed himself. He would laugh and talk, read, watch t.v., walk and work out,  just as before. He still had his sense of humor, (which is what I fell in love with in the first place) and his loving heart. He was no longer able to work, due to the severe memory issues, which was vital to his job. He still made me feel like a queen with his kind words and his loving gestures. I married him in 2013 because I still loved him just as I did prior to the TBI and while there were obvious differences, those obstacles did not seem to be so huge at the time, but in the last 3 1/2 years things have really changed. His entire family, has more or less disowned him and there are NO friends left. He has not even seen his grown children since 2013 (no, they do not care for me). Even his mom and dad have not talked to him in over a year. He has pretty much forgot them all now, which is not what I wanted, but I am too busy taking care of him too try and force a relationship between all of them. He no longer puts forth any effort to make himself better and all my attempts at bringing in outside help has done nothing for him because he will not try.  My friends do not understand the situation, although "they are sorry for me."  They think I should have never married him and they may be right, but tell that to my heart. My husband is pretty much gone now, he no longer talks to me, there is NO physical relationship and I just roam around the house while he sleeps. His day consist of eating, sleeping and reading. He says maybe 10 words to me in a days time and that is typically, " when are we going to eat"? and "I am going to bed"! I am blessed to still be able to work,  due to the fact that I am self employed and able to run my own hours. One of my disabled family members stays with him while I am out, we trade out sitting with him for room and board. In some ways I am lucky that I have the freedom to work and I know this but even that is suffering because my home life is on my mind constantly.  Here is my dilemma. My husband acts like he could care less if I am here or not as long as he is fed, and while he tells me he loves me, there is nothing to back it up and as humans we need that connection. When I ask him to share his thoughts or his feelings he looks at me like I have lost my mind, when all I want is communication. I asked him today to share one memory with me, any memory,  and he did not know what the word "memory" meant. When I explained it to him he told me he remembered marrying me and actually told me where we got married at. That is a big deal that he could remember this, so how could I even be thinking of giving up on us? I do not think family and friends realize that when they walk away, they take so much more from the TBI member than the brain injury itself does. Socialization is everything to some of them).  Walking out alienates and isolates these individuals and the effect this has on the self worth that the person with the TBI has is felt clear to their soul and it makes them feel unimportant and they give up. I have to fight daily to keep from getting sucked into his world of just existing and it is hard to not just give up myself.  There is no joy, excitement, very little laughter and no hope of a happier tomorrow. I do not mean for this to be doom and gloom but just stating the facts of how hard this is and very confusing, as to the right thing to do for both of us. I feel like he would not even remember me in a matter of a month if I was to place him in a facility,  but when I checked them out they are downright depressing and I cannot imagine placing him in that environment. He has been through and lost enough already but do I sacrifice my sanity for his benefit of staying home? We really need some better options out there. I thank God every day for my son and a couple of friends I do have left and I thank my brother for his support but I just do not know how far I let this take me down before I admit defeat.

I have a friend whose husband suffered a brain injury over 5 years ago while on the job as a police officer. They were the fairy tale couple that everyone envied! With 5 great children they did everything together as a family. They were kindest people you would ever meet and the love that burst through their eyes was enough to make everyone jealous of their relationship! He has been going through treatment since the accident, suffering migraines, anxiety, mood swings, PTSD, etc. As the years have gone on, his symptoms seem to have gotten worse! He was visibly a different person than he was before the accident. I pray for that family every day! What was the perfect little family has become a tragic story! His wife and his children have had to learn to be with this man who no longer is the person the knew and loved so much! The sacrifices they have made to help and care for him have been difficult...especially for the young children who do not fully understand! It has been so very sad! A few months ago he added salt to the wounds by trying to commit suicide. While the family was still reeling from that pain, he decided to have an affair and recently moved out to live with this woman! As I am an outsider looking in, I can see that the man she married died 5 years ago after his accident. But it is so heartbreaking to watch this family suffer so much. Everyone is in counseling which is a good thing! How do I help this family? I am not naive enough to think I can fix it...but I want to help somehow make the pain of this a little better. I have read these stories and have shed tears for each one! Brain injuries are such a cruel and heart wrenching tragedy. Sending you all prayers for healing and happiness!

I am so surprised to find this site. I suffered a ruptured AVM when I was a young, pretty, 22 years old woman in 1980. Then, there were no support groups, no one to talk to. I was popular, married almost two years and was left with left side paralysis. After 2 years of therapy, many people were unable to tell anything was wrong and I strived to "be normal." But, of course, I'm not. I've been financially secure to afford the very best of everything. I've traveled the world,  living a spectacular life, but its been without anyone my age to relate with on the subject of my illness. My children know me only as I am, not as I know I was. My existence has been doctors, physical therapy, medication, MRI scans, depression, more depression, acting out, divorce, addiction, rehab...  Now, that my career as a reporter is done and I've got time on my hands to give toward my grown family, NO ONE CALLS.  Yes, my injury has changed me as I've grown older, but what the hell, I'm still more entertaining than most people I know. Anyway, so glad to find this site. I'll return to reading your comments and wish I could personally connect with some of you.   Leslie

I feel so alone and isolated since my husband had a stroke. I care for him at home. I feel every bodies else's life has gone on except ours. I know I shouldn't feel sorry for myself but my heart is hurting so much 😢

Great information

Tank you. This writing is just how I have felt since severe brain damage 9 years ago.

My husband of 36 years was in car accident feb-2013 A girl run stop sign and hit him as his speed was 55 Mph he's left with TBI the same year he was to retire and we start living out our dreams! Wrong. I'm living in hell with him seems like I can't find help for him the one place I did find help like he needs was in Chapel Hill NC they wanted 600.00 first visit and 2 visit between 600.00-1200.00 per visit we can't afford this they have him on meds yes but I don't know him Since the wreck he says he's changed he needs to be alone 90% time it's hard because when he was air flighted to hospital and in coma for 12 days and finally woke up he knew his family and co workers but he didn't know how use fork or walk or put his clothes on or walk or wipe his butt ! I done 24/7 care for him everything I done I gave his baths I put his clothes on him I went to bed every night with him at 7:00 just so he would not fall off the bed and hit his head " anyways where we stand now is yes he survived that wreck. He's up walking now driving. And taking care of all the yard work and doing about what he wants too all at same time I don't know who he is he ignores or 3 daughters. Grown ups now and our 4 grand kids is very short fused with them and only can take few mins with visitors family and poof he's gone , He's always saying I should never been here now I need help " why am I still here "On another note " 2009 he fell from a 50 ft light pole from his job few surgery and 2 yrs later he was fine " then wreck 2013 I'm always trying understand his blunt ways of talking to me and me trying figure out what's he's talking about leads to " well I shut up you don't understand " and wAlks away . He wants help But I can't find him help so needs less to say he's alone time I gave him in his safe place I. His room wasn't enough he since then stays across the rd in a ole store building he set him a bed up there and he's across the rd at the house few times aday says he's ok where he's at and now we talking about separating after he's been moved out since jan he keep saying you don't deserve to live like this go find you a man """" grrrr"""" I'm at a breaking point and I'm trying to fight for my 36 yrs with this man. But the drs said there he will get to point where he wants to be alone. I'm going put this out there if anyone close to Sanford or Siler City NC or Pittsboro Nc is going through TBI and have any info on any help I can get on how to deal with him Cause I'm at pointing need help Myself just to deal with him. This is tearing me up and to think throw away 36 yrs away for something that was not his fault I can't turn my back on him even if he's pushing me away I need help people . I seen so many stories on here I read if only I had a way contact y'all is it safe to post phone numbers here ? Just going save this site or try too watch for the comments back to me take care y'all and don't lose faith ""

I have a head injury and I identify with everything in this list. All of these complications can lead to other hardships: depression, anxiety, abusing drugs and alcohol to feel normal. I got hit at 16. I didn't understand and neither did my friends. I did drugs to feel more confident. I drank alcohol to make it easier to leave my house. To make me 'better' in social situations I relied on a high. I know this is common. I spend time being hurt and angry because none of my friends loved me enough to stay. I was just too much to handle. I try not to think about it though. It's old news. I'm 25. I still make really poor decisions and have incredibly shit judgement. I have come to terms with this. My boyfriend didn't know me before the injury. He doesn't get it, plain and simple. I've tried so hard to be with this man and I don't know if I can because he does not act on his words of kindness.. He just doesn't get it. I can't make him. I want to be happy. I know if you're anything like me, this you feel you don't deserve. The guilt.. Don't have patience for someone that doesn't have patience for you. If they hold your irritability over your head and accuse you of holding double standards - They need to have different standards. It's never going to be easy with someone like me (a person with a head injury). Now. All of us know, ok, if you can't then don't.. Go now. This is personal, obviously.. And if anything maybe this can be encouraging to someone going through the same thing  Stay strong, oh yeah and TBI for life ✌ (Silly)

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