I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around my husband because his emotional reaction is so unpredictable. What can I do to keep this situation from damaging our relationship?
As hard and as frustrating as it may be, try not to take it personally. This is common after a brain injury. Understanding that is a result of his injury can help a little bit. Try to learn as much as you can about brain injury to help you understand where he is coming from and the challenges he is dealing with that might be contributing to this behavior. Have you told your husband how his reactions hurt your feelings? He might be able to provide insight into what is going on inside him. It could be an opportunity for discussion. It is hard to say what is causing his reactions because there could be many reasons, but sometimes descriptions like these suggest he might possibly be misinterpreting things you do or say. So in your mind, your actions are benign, but he may perceive something else you don't realize. The bottom line is anger after a brain injury is complicated. Pay attention to other possible causes for irritability and frustration, such as fatigue, anxiety, depression, slowed cognitive processing. Counseling sessions with a psychologist experienced in brain injury rehabilitation may be helpful in providing clarity and strategies suited to your husband's needs.
This content is made possible by a partnership between Indiana University and WETA/BrainLine.
The contents of this expert answer were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research the Indiana Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems 90DP0036 and 90DRTB0002. NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this expert answer do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.
Dr. Dawn Neumann is an Associate Professor at Indiana University School of Medicine in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Research Director at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana.