I was the mildest mannered person before my accident, and so I was very good at remaining calm. But since my brain injury, I have developed a quick, hot temper. On one hand it means I won’t stand for nonsense anymore, which in some ways is useful. I used to find myself in sticky or stressful situations just because I didn’t know how to say no. But on the other hand it means I can easily over react.
You could count on me in a crisis.
I was that person who was able to put emotions to one side whilst concentrating on the desired outcome. The most dramatic example of this happened in my early 20’s. I was Assistant Manager at a Pharmacy which offered free needle exchange for drug addicts. It was designed to reduce the transmission of diseases for those who had entered into drug rehabilitation programs. On the whole, this worked well, as it offered support to those who wanted to change their lives and remain safe. But a few still had a long way to go and would steal to fund their habit.
One day, when the Manager was off, a particular individual came in for the needle exchange. But he was a known shop lifter. He took offence to a member of staff monitoring him as she tried to discourage him from stealing. He became verbally abusive and started knocking products onto the floor in frustration. I approached him to calm the situation and he told me how upset he was. But he was demanding I fire her, when she hadn’t done anything wrong. So he held up the used syringe and pointed it inches away from my neck, telling me he had aids so one small prick and I could be infected.
The Pharmacy had a silent panic button which went straight through to the local police station. I knew the staff had already activated it and that help would be on it’s way. Staying calm I informed him the police were coming and assaulting me wouldn’t help him. Moments later the police arrived and he was arrested. The staff were shocked, and expected me to be, but after checking they were all OK I told them just to carry on as normal.
Adjusting to my new hot temper.
I’m still a caring person who has a strong moral compass. But I am much more likely to fly off the handle after my brain injury. The new me in that situation might have done nothing as anxiety gripped me. Or I might be living with aids by antagonising him too much.
My partner James is the usual target unfortunately. As I don’t see others much any more, he does have to put up with my grumpiness. I will huff and puff about stupid things like some rubbish hasn’t been put in the bin. It’s hardly the crime of the century, is it.
But I can easily descend into self pity which with my temper comes out as anger. I accuse him of not listening, not paying attention, having more important things to do……. Those of you who are regular readers will by now know James is worth his weight in gold. In no way does he deserve any of this. He works extremely hard and is still my rock. Without him I might not have made it this far. James is understanding and patient, but I know when I’ve pushed him too far when on the odd occasion he bites back. He’s not rude, just indicates that I’m making it sound like he can’t do anything right. And I don’t mean that at all, I wouldn’t swap him for the world!
I don’t like this new part of me, and I’m trying to learn to breathe and take a step back first. Small improvements are happening, but although I might contain it a little better, I still find that flash of anger alien. My temper sucks up a lot of energy, particularly when I’m trying to contain it. So even when I’ve calmed down, I’m just too exhausted to cheer up. I know I need to put things into perspective to see if they warrant so much energy, but it’s hard. Maybe that’s because I’m not as involved with the outside world now, I don’t know. I hope in time I can become that calm collected person again, but with a bit more experience on my side.
Other articles you might like:
- Master the act of ditching the hurtful but inconsequential things. Battle of brain injury survivor.
- Achieving new things doesn’t end after brain injury.
- Impatient insight. 5 tips on building tolerance after brain injury.
- TBI: animal therapy.
- Support carers.