Brain injury does not = lack of intelligence

A brain injury does not mean you have lost intelligence.

It’s a bit sad that this needs to be explained, but the brain is wonderfully complex, so it’s understandable that Joe public can be confused. When suddenly you can’t find your words, add up properly or any other of the endless affects of brain injury, one might think you are stupid. So here I’m going to try to explain why this doesn’t mean you have lost intelligence as a result of your brain injury.

Stop talking about IQ results, please!!!

I hate the way people band around these numbers, and I’m convinced the majority of people don’t know how they are calculated. For a start, most people go through their life without ever having one of these tests administered by a professional. Those stupid little quizzes that pop up on Facebook and other social media don’t count!

Testing intelligence is a very difficult and lengthy process, and then you are only being pitted against “the average person” for your age. 68% of people will fit into “average”. That is a massive group, so forgive me if I don’t personally feel “IQ” is very exciting. I have had mine tested following my brain injury, and I too am of average intelligence. Big deal!

Bell graph showing how intelligence across the population stands


Speed isn’t everything.

So it might take us a little longer to get there, but that doesn’t mean we are stupid. My results showed my processing speed is much slower than would be expected based on how I perform in other areas. Therefore before my accident I might have come out as above average. But the point is, I can still get there! Even if these tests show a brain injured person as below average, that could be just their processing speed pulling their overall score down. Remember your teacher always saying you get credit for showing your workings? Well that’s because that shows you are able to deduce the answer, not just reel if off parrot fashion.

Slow processing speed, doesn’t make us stupid.

As pathways have been damaged in the brain, finding the right answer takes longer. It’s in there, but it is more tiring trying to find it. Imagine the pathways are a relay team. They are all fast over short distances, so by working together the distance can be completed faster. But someone like me as the majority of their team out of action due to injury. So for me to complete the race it’s going to take more time, and believe me, I’ll be cream crackered at the end! So is that a fair race? Of course not, so these tests don’t always give an accurate picture.

Intelligence isn't always diminished by brain injury

The moral of my story….

Don’t discount the opinion of someone who has a brain injury just because sometimes they struggle. We still have a lot to give, but it’s like that saying…..”good things come to those who wait.”

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After a brain injury things that were easy before can become more challenging. But don't mistake this for lowered intelligence. Let me explain.......




Held back by weakness from brain injury

How I didn't realise how badly I was affected by weakness following my brain injury.

Regular readers will know that I have muscle weakness from my brain injury which affects my left side. As I’m right handed it usually is more of an issue for my leg than it is my arm. (I can’t run at all, but now most people don’t notice that I limp when I walk.) I have weakness on my right too, but as that was my naturally stronger side it coped better than my left.  Initially when my accident happened I had foot drop in my right, so there clearly was some damage. But since I haven’t given it much thought or attention, until we got a new front door….

I was excited to get a new door as I’d never liked our white plastic PVC one. In my opinion it was ugly, and I had been locked out by it a few times. The locking system was playing up and sometimes even with the key you couldn’t unlock it. So my partner James and I decided it was time to invest in a new one.

James was keen on one where you didn’t need to turn a handle to open the door, just the key. Otherwise when you’re carrying shopping you feel like you are running out of hands.  So we went with a 5 point locking system where you don’t have a handle. Under the lock is a lip for you to pull the door shut when closing it, but opening you just unlock and push. Sounds like it fits the bill, right……..

Living with muscle weakness after a brain injury can be embarrassing.

We were warned that as the frame and surround was as well insulted it would take a few days for everything the settle. Basically that meant the door would be stiff for a while. That’s when I found out how weak my right hand really is. Previously using a handle gave me more leverage and so I had no problem. But with just a small knob to grip and turn, I couldn’t get out of the house! I was a prisoner in my own home!

Often women would find it a little more challenging than men whilst it settled, but this was ridiculous.  I should be able to answer my own front door. There was a stage where if the postman needed to give me a parcel, I had to open a window for him to pass it to me. I must have looked like I was a bit crazy or something. (Alright, I am a bit crazy, but I don’t need other things masquerading as my issues.) Although it might have been a little tighter than necessary, it wasn’t really their fault, it was just that I’m unusually weak. I could open it from the outside with the key, but twisting the knob and pulling the door towards me when I was inside, was neigh on impossible.

Weakness from a brain injury can interrupt your everyday life.

I’m pleased to say that as it has settled now  I am able to open the door by myself. But this episode reminded me how I am more limited than I had accounted for. It was so embarrassing that it highlighted how abnormally weak I am. Particularly when you don’t want to explain to someone you have only just met that it’s your brain, not really the muscles. However at least now I can escape the house (even though I look like a slow motion replay.)

For more about some of the physical affects to brain injury visit Headway’s article on it.

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A brain injury isn’t a part-time ailment

A brain injury isn't a part-time ailment, just sometimes we cope better than others.

A regular reader of this blog asked me to raise this issue. As I do believe many of us face this I was happy to do so. It probably comes from people mistaking our good and bad days for a part-time issue. But unfortunately a brain injury goes much deeper than that.

As with many chronic conditions you can learn how to avoid exacerbating the symptoms of your brain injury. But sometimes in different situations you have to stretch yourself despite this. Then the aftermath can be at its most punishing. That is the only thing living with a brain injury has in common with a headache.

Where as a headache can dissolve and allow the person to get on with life, a brain injury doesn’t. It doesn’t take a day off like a part-time ailment, it’s always there. We might have a good day after managing our symptoms well, but that good day still might not be what our potential was before.

Surviving with a brain injury takes alot. I can't just take a tablet like it's a headache.

What people don’t always realise, is that when we are having a good day we are working our brain very hard. It’s like asking a sprinter to do a marathon. They might be able to do it, but it would leave them in a bad condition for an extended period afterwards. Possibly even ruin their career. So if anyone thinks it would be reasonable be ask Usain Bolt  to run a marathon, please go ahead. (He’s 6ft 5in and basically a mass of muscle, so good luck with that.) In fact, he has never even run a mile. The Washington post does a pretty good job of explaining why.

Whilst for the time we are in your presence we “appear” to be doing well, that is just a snapshot in time. You don’t know how we struggled to get out of bed, and changed what we were going to say because we couldn’t remember the words we wanted to use. Whilst it  might look like our brain injury is something we deal with only sometimes, it’s not.

This is demonstrated well by the “Spoon theory”. Christine Miserandino devised it whilst trying to explain to her friend  what living with Lupus is like. Her explanation can be related to any chronic illness. She used spoons to represent energy reserves for that day. Her friend was surprised when Christine took spoons away for daily activities which she usually took for granted. Thus it demonstrated how Christine had to always plan her day to try to conserve her spoons. Otherwise she would run out of energy too quickly and her symptoms would become unbearable.

A brain injury means you have to manage your spoons well. It's much more than a part-time illness.

I hope this has helped to demonstrate to those who didn’t fully understand, the struggles of living with a brain injury. You might wonder what the survivor is always complaining about, when they seem OK to you. Or perhaps they don’t complain and you don’t ever get to hear what it’s like for them. So next time they say they can’t do something that day, or decline to attend an event, please remember their spoons. They might really want to join you, but the consequences might be too severe.

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Brain injury survivors can recover to a point. But it 's tiresome when some people think that it behaves like a headache and is only a part-time issue. So this is a short explanation of what is the difference between having good and bad days, V's a part-time ailment.



Added injustice following a brain injury

Suffering more injustice after a brain injury.

Life is rarely fair. I guess it has to be that way so we can learn from mistakes and misfortune, enabling us to grow as individuals. But surely having to live with a brain injury is enough? That’s a pretty big negative event which karma has dealt, so surely then you must be even for previous sins and due some positive karma? Or that’s what I used to think, and then I realised it doesn’t work like that. I know this now following the complete lack of understanding a particular individual has shown me. The injustice I feel is unbearable.

How relationships can quickly dissolve.

I’ve spoken openly before about how a brain injury survivors behaviour can be affected. And I accept that can be confusing and difficult for others to deal with. In fact, I even agree that they didn’t sign up for the affects of a brain injury in their friend so may choose to walk away.  Having helped my Dad through his battle with Alzheimer’s, I recognise the compelling urge to run away. Particularly when it’s someone you care about, it’s heartbreaking to see them going through it. You just want to remember them at their best. But that isn’t the injustice I’m referring too.

Coping with the injustice of others actions whilst coping with a brain injury

This is much worse….

In high stress situations it’s common that some things might be said or done in haste. But usually when things have calmed down, and apologises have been offered things can settle again.  But I continue to be flabbergasted how this individual can continue to behave as the victim.

On one particular day I’m sure I said some regrettable things. I meant them, but could have phrased them better. This happened only 3 months after my accident when really I should have been in some sort of rehab. My Mum had suddenly died just days after I came out of hospital, and my Dad was struggling a lot with his health. So I was tactless, but I didn’t falsely accuse this individual of anything. However I accept I was harsh and have tried to apologise countless times since.

Actually it’s probably fair to say that even without my brain injury, that amount of stress would make anyone tactless. So I would have offered some understanding and forgiveness to a person in that situation. But no, this individual thinks they are the one who is suffering the great injustice. They are this poor victim who thinks it is fair to continue to stab me in the back. Just walking away isn’t enough. They have to behave like I’m the devil himself, even though we have only seen each other once since this turning point. That’s injustice!

Suffering further injustice after brain injury.

The new turmoil created by the injustice of it all.

So now I am left with weight of this horrible, and unnecessary situation. The key now is to not let it change me into a bitter and twisted person like them. I have moments when I can rationalise their behaviour and offer some forgiveness. But I’m half Irish, so the Irish woman in me refuses to just roll over so easily. She’s a fighter and is still wanting to level things up.

So the moral to my story? If you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen. But don’t then make out you were forced out. Own your decisions and don’t blame other people for them. If you can’t accept the life a brain injury survivor is having to lead, just walk away and let them get on with it. There’s no need to keep twisting the knife. You can’t beat them. Because we are survivors, and that makes us stronger than all the small minded “victims” out there. Go pick a battle you have a chance in!

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Tips to avoid more accidents as a consequence of brain injury

Living with a brain injury makes accidents more likely. Here's some tips to keep you safe.

As if facing a life time with a brain injury isn’t enough, you become more likely to have other accidents. Everyone will have accidents, that’s just being human. But brain injury survivors are at higher risk of injuring themselves. Yesterday I did another one, that was easily preventable.

The proof is in the pudding, or in this case the soup.

My partner James had popped out, and I decided to heat up some soup for my lunch.  What happened next was a series of poorly thought through decisions.

I went to pour it into a bowl, even though I saw it was bubbling and therefore boiling. My terrible coordination meant I made a bad job of it, and it splashed back up over my hand. I went to flick to off my hand with a sharp shake, which was only partially successful.  As I’d shouted when it happened, my cat Dexter woke up and decided it was time for his lunch too. I have basic first aid training, so I know speed at cooling a burn is important. However I chose to feed Dexter first. How ridiculous is that? And as some had spilt on the work top and floor, I cleaned that up too before running cold water on my burning hand.

Was my brain injury to blame for yet another of my voidable accidents?

Not necessarily, but in all likelihood it probably played a role in it. We can all be careless at times, but my response at every stage was inappropriate. So now I am paying the price with my hand crisping up nicely. The back of my hand is red and delicate, but the worst is my inner wrist. It now sports some go faster stripes, complete with blisters for 3D effect.

Just one of my accidents which I think my brain injury didn't help.

So here’s a few tips on avoiding the most common accidents at home. They might sound obvious, but train yourself into good habits. If you have good habits, your more likely to respond in a safe way to things. Rather than try to fall back on your problem solving and decision making skills like I did.

Tips to avoid accidents at home, with or without a brain injury:
  • Be mindful of hot liquids. Don’t place hot drinks for example on table runners which hang over the edge. They can easily be pulled accidentally, causing spillage.
  • Turn in handles of pots and pans when cooking. A handle sticking out over the edge of the hob can easily be knocked and the hot contents to cause an injury.
  • Any spills should be cleaned up quickly. This is to prevent them causing anyone to slip and fall. However, make sure that if the spill happened due to you causing an injury to yourself, deal with your injury first and ask for help.
  • Install grab rails. Bathrooms are a must for grab rails as the slippery surfaces make falls all too likely. But make sure other areas of the house has been thought about too. Often I slip in the kitchen, but it’s tiny so I can grab the work surfaces. If yours is more generous, think of what would help you if you lost your balance.
  • Keep electronics and water at a safe distance. Things can be dropped or pushed accidentally into water. This can make them short out and as water is a good conductor it can result in electrocution.
  • Secure rugs. You might remember me talking about rug grippers before in 5 steps to end time consuming indecision of brain injury. These simple, inexpensive items could be the difference between a nasty fall or not.
  • Best practice for your stairs. Make sure carpets are properly installed making them secure. The hand rail should run the entire length of the stairs, and you should be in the habit of always using it. Avoid placing rugs at the top or bottom of the stairs, as they increase the risk of a fall. (Even with grippers.)
  • Don’t overload sockets. You must never be tempted to plug an extension cable into another extension cable. This could cause a fire.
  • Never leave a naked flame unattended. Candles must be kept away from flammable objects. Curtains are a common household item that can quickly catch fire.
  • Have a plan for if there’s a fire. Install a smoke detector and regularly check the batteries. Make sure you know how to exit the building, bearing in mind the obvious ones might be obstructed by the fire. Have keys for the doors where anyone staying in your home can access them so they can easily unlock the door to exit quickly.

Brain injury survivors are at higher risk of accidents.

The list could easily go on. If you want to look at a very comprehensive list Preventing Accidents in the Home by Rospa is pretty much on the money.

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Suffering a brain injury leads you to being in harms way more. Maybe you didn't notice the dangers, or your coordination can't prevent the accidents. Here's my tips to help you avoid accidents at home.


Clamming up about my brain injury stings relationships

How clamming up about my brain injury isn't helpful

At times I’m just too tired to explain how I’m feeling. (You might have noticed I write less often than I used to and that’s one of the reasons for it.) Sometimes there is a storm of emotions inside me which I realise are irrational but I can’t quell them. So to avoid saying anything that I would later regret, I find myself clamming up. But my face rarely gets the memo and goes into full on sulky mode. I’m so bored of this brain injury, I wish I could direct my anger at it and evict it from my head. Sadly it doesn’t work like that though.

At the time clamming up feels like the lesser of two evils. But maybe it isn’t.

My silence carries more weight than I intend it to. All I’m doing it trying to contain my poisonous tongue. Some people go quiet for dramatic effect, waiting for someone to ask “What’s wrong, you’ve hardly said a word today?” I guarantee you, that when you are struggling with a brain injury there is no such thing as dramatic effect.

Even when I’m trying to be mindful, holding my tongue is the best I can do. I might be sulking about my partner James having to work so much, and having less time with him. As he is the only one bringing in a income, I know I can’t begrudge him for being so conscientious. In fact, I know he would like nothing more than being able to work less, or even take early retirement. But currently neither are an option. So I try to remind myself of this and empathise with his position. And it works, but not for my brain injury. It just keeps complaining and dragging me down.

How clamming up about my brain injury is not a good idea


How silence leaves too many unanswered questions.

My grumpiness is too obvious, and I know it makes James feel guilty. But he has nothing to feel guilty about. He has been truly amazing the entire time. Superman hasn’t got a patch on this guy. If the world had more people like him in it, people wouldn’t need heaven.

But he still doubts himself as he can read my face. So eventually I manage to spill, but I start with a disclaimer: “I know I’m being stupid, and here’s the reason why it’s stupid …..blah,blah,blah…. but I can’t help it. I’m upset about ….x,y,z….. because…..”

This really does help the situation, it’s just a shame it takes me so long to be in a position where I can do it. James is getting used to my behaviour, but he is only human (although he’s as close to an angel as you can get.) When I am clamming up, his mind is running a million miles an hour, thinking of all the things I might be annoyed about. I do feel bad for torturing him like this as he doesn’t deserve it. So here’s a shout out for all the carers who some how put up with the nonsense some of us survivors put them through.

clamming up after my brain injury isn't helpful.

I’m tired and I’ve run out of words again so I’m going to leave it there. I think you get the point, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is going through this.

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10 foods for riding the obligatory brain injury roller-coaster

my post brain injury roller-coaster life.

When people politely ask me how I’m doing, I say “not bad”. I like to think of this as not lying as it’s just a snap shot of my life. Some days are tolerable, and even a special few are bloody brilliant. That’s probably true for the majority of people. But when I have a bad brain day, I feel like my world has collapsed all over again. It’s like I’m stuck on a roller-coaster that gives me relief when it’s on the climb. But I reach the top and it punishes me when I’m in free fall coming down.

I don’t even know how to explain it when I’m in the middle of a bad brain day.

As I do quiet well at expressing what life post brain injury is like, I still find it surprising that I can’t explain myself when I’m in a bad place. Just recently I haven’t been awful, but everyday I find I am spent very quickly. It’s not terrible, just leaves me grumpy, unmotivated, and unable to follow through with plans. This part of my roller-coaster isn’t the big dipper. It’s more like one of those super fast ones that throws you from side to side whilst nipping under a bridge that you think it’s going to smash into. There’s no dramatic highs and lows, but still even a scream can’t escape.

How diet can ease the roller-coaster ride of brain injury.

We all know you are what you eat. I’ll be the first to admit that whilst I would love to say I treat my body like a temple, I don’t. I comfort eat particularly when I’m feeling like a turd. But I’m going about this the wrong way. Any form of injury means your body needs extra nutrition to be able to heal. Brain injury often means you struggle to use nutrients as effectively as you did before, so you need even more of them. So I’m going to be putting extra effort into giving myself some TLC.

Riding the brain injury roller-coaster

10 foods which help power up your brain.
  1. Turmeric – It has been identified as having the ability to stimulate new brain cell generation in some cases. Also it may lessen the development of plaque in the brain, the common cause of Alzheimer’s.
  2. Cashews – Full of nutritional yeast, it helps top up your vitamin B6 and B12. Both of these are linked to memory and overall brain health. Vitamin B is also important for fighting depression so might ease my grumpiness.
  3. Eggs – A particular type of vitamin B called Choline can be found in eggs. It’s important for cell membranes, and especially brain cells.
  4. Dark chocolate – Those with high cocoa content are loaded with antioxidants. These can help boost your memory and overall cognitive skills.
  5. Celery – Anyone who struggles to park the car should be eating it as it contains antioxidants which aid spatial awareness. It also reduces inflammation and improves memory and the ability to learn.
  6. Rosemary – Another one for spacial awareness. (If parking the car is still stressing you out, it will helps lower stress too.)
  7. Spinach – It can protect against free radicals and inflammation. (I admit I don’t really understand what free radicals are, but I know they’re not good.) Often those who struggle cognitively are deficient in an antioxidant called Lutein. It helps with learning and memory. You guessed it, spinach is packed with it. Pop-eye might eat it for muscles, but it also helps him remember what he’s doing and learn from his adventures.
  8. Salmon – Packed with omega -3 which I think we all know is generally good for the brain.
  9. Avocado – Full of mono-saturated fats, it aids absorption of other nutrients.  But also it is a great source of vitamin E which is important for cognitive function.
  10. Yogurt – We are coming round to the idea that the gut and brain have more affect on each other than we previously recognised. So as yogurt has probiotics to support your gut,it can support your mental health. (Grumpy me needs to try to get some more of this in to my diet.)

The roller coaster ride of brain injury.

I’m not suggesting that by changing your diet everything will be fine. But even if it just helps a bit, it’s worth trying to have more of the good stuff. For more ideas on what nutrition will help your brain injury Brain Fog: Causes, Symptoms, Solutions is a pretty comprehensive article.

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Life post brain injury feels like you're riding roller-coaster, with no chance to get off. Try these 10 foods to ease the ride of bad brain days.



Can a brain injury make you more creative?

I have a brain injury, but has it allowed me to become more creative?

Immediately following my brain injury I struggled with my coordination. As someone who was pretty good at painting and drawing, I found this distressing as I was robbed of my skills. Whilst I didn’t engage in artwork all the time, it was still good to know I could do it if I wanted to. Some people are good at singing, or sports, but I was always lacking at both. So it was comforting to know I had my creative streak as my “talent”. I believe everyone has a talent, whether they have discovered it yet or not.

I worried I had lost my “talent” forever.

The word talent is in quotation marks, as it’s the only word I could think of. But actually it’s for observers to judge if the level of ability can be classed as a talent. Forgive me, I’m not being arrogant, it’s just my lack of vocabulary.

Feeling I could no longer be artistic was like saying goodbye to just another part of me. Particularly since creative activities are recommended for many kinds of rehabilitation, I took it as a slap in the face. Any time it was suggested to me, it served as a reminder for what I couldn’t do anymore. My coordination coupled with my double vision, meant I struggled with accuracy.  Whilst I understood that as my brain relearned how to work better I would improve, frustration and impatience would take over me.

Have I become more creative as a result of my brain injury?

But when I took the pressure off myself, things started to happen….

Life moved on, and I stopped focusing on what I found more difficult due to my brain injury. (I know it feels like I’m always talking about what is tough. Just trust that I only do that for this blog. I promise I don’t bang on about it all the time really.) Since I don’t go to work anymore, and my friends do, I have had to find ways to spend my time (when I’m not napping.)

I didn’t really recognise how I was becoming more creative, until recently. Even when I first started writing this blog, and people asked if I wrote before, I didn’t really think about it. Really it wasn’t until my neighbour told me she thought I should be a creative designer that I started to see it. She had watched as I redesigned our back garden, and completely changed it. And recently had been impressed with what I have been doing to the front of the house recently.

Why have I got the creative bug?

I’m not going to bore you with all the little projects I have been embarking on. I just want to say this – I feel less inhibited with self doubt, and just have a go. It’s not that I necessarily believe in my skills, but I believe in the ideas. That’s what has changed. I have more ideas now. Previously I needed something to copy, but now I can rely on my own inspiration.

Has my brain injury made me more creative?

An article in Psychology today called Creativity and the Healing Brain, attempts to give a reason why this happens for some people.  It could be to do which the change in the brain structure, or a change in confidence. Maybe we become more creative because it’s part of learning to adapt after a brain injury.  But either way, I am enjoying the feeling (where it’s real or not.)

By the way if you haven’t already seen some of the Pinterest pins I hide in these pages, have a look. They are just another example of may creativity. You can see them by going to pin the article and it will show it will the other images, or go to the Pinterest Brain Injury Group Board I set up.

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Am I turning into a control freak with a brain injury?

Is my brain injury making me into a control freak?

I was brought up to be polite and considerate of others. So there wasn’t many times I ever made demands of any body. In fact, I was the person who was likely to be walked all over because I couldn’t say “no”. But now I have to consider how events and activities will affect my brain injury. So I can’t bear not having things my way. I’m worried I’m turning into a control freak.

Dealing with tight spaces

I have a lovely little home, which is fine for James and I. The down stairs is open plan, so even with visitors, there is space for everyone to spread out. With one exception, the galley kitchen. It’s very small, and two people can only just pass one another. (But you have to be good friends as not even a shard of light can sneak between you.) Therefore I don’t particularly like any one in the kitchen with me, apart from James.

At the weekend we had guests over, who I won’t name as I don’t want to embarrass them. Let’s call them Fay and Thomas. Very nice people who have very good manners, thus I don’t want to upset them. Thomas I suspect has lost a little of his hearing. He is by no means deaf, but I think he finds it easier to stand closer to people to make sure he catches what they are saying.  This is perfectly understandable. However, in my kitchen it makes this control freak start to get very angry.

The dishwasher is at the end of the kitchen, and as I unloaded it Thomas came to talk to me. The kitchen isn’t even very long, so I could feel his presence and was sure that if I took one step backwards I would bump into him. As I turned round holding some dishes to be put away, I had to ask him to step back so I could put them in the cupboard. I realise he didn’t do anything wrong, but I was feeling like a trapped animal. When an animal feels under threat, they can attack. I was not in danger of any description, but my brain injury can jump off the deep end at times. Even though I was by the back door, so I could escape outside if I needed to, I still felt cornered.

Is my brain injury turning me into a control freak?

A when the control freak doesn’t get their way, the grump ensues…

As I realised that I was being a bit irrational, I was doing my best to not say something I would later regret. But my face looked like I was chewing wasps. I tried to force smiles, but I’m sure the daggers I had for eyes were a bit of a give away.

Even when we all went and sat in the comfy living room, my mood was ugly. I think I wasn’t even that bad as a hormonal teenager. The stupid thing is, I struggle to tell people what I need to make me comfortable. I just somehow expect them to guess. Just because I wouldn’t ever want to be in someones way, so would automatically leave them lots of space, I can’t expect the same of others. Particularly when I know there was a reason for Thomas’ behaviour.

Is my brain injury making me a control freak?

I don’t want to become a complete control freak, so I’m going to try to nip this in the bud. Luckily I found 10 Ways To Stop Feeling Like You Need To Be In Control All The Time by Lauren Stahl, which I’m going to put into practice. I  know it’s common that a brain injury can change your personality, but I’m not proud of this part of me. So I’m sending her the eviction notice now!

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Do you find you need to be in control more after your brain injury, or do you prefer to leave it to others? Are you comfortable with this change?

I was pretty easy going before. But trying to avoid some of the triggers for my brain injury symptoms, is making me a control freak. Otherwise I feel trapped.....


Lack of insight when brain injury strikes

I have been on this brain injury roller-coaster for over 2 and a half years, and there are times I think I’m surfing it pretty well. But just when I might be getting a little too cocky, I have a lack of insight. I fail to recognise I’m pushing too hard. My behaviour changes, but I think I’m just having an understandable and reasonable reaction to a difficult situation. The rest of the world has a different opinion…

My most recent example:

My partner James and I have decided we need to invest in a new front door. Currently it’s white, but if you have read 5 signs that you need to pace yourself better for brain injury recovery, you will know I recently painted the garage door. It is now a smart and up to the minute shade of charcoal grey. (I’m actually very proud of it, as you might be able to tell.)

As well as wanting to update the colour of the door, it’s locking system sometimes can be a bit hit and miss. It’s never unlocked, but sometimes it won’t let you back in! So I’m fed up with its attitude, and it’s had its last chance!  So James and I went to a showroom to check out some replacement doors. I was pleased with this as I was excited by the idea of being able to complete the makeover I had started. You would think then I would be happy and enthusiastic. Wrong……

Quickly I descend into a petulant child, but  I don’t recognise it.

Tired of our current overly complicated, and unreliable locking system, we needed to test drive the alternatives. James really wanted one where you did not need the handle so you could open the door one handed. This would make it easier went carrying shopping in from the car.

James was testing a sample door and lock, but it was close to a wall. So when you were trying to experience how it worked when you were inside the house, you were trapped in a tiny space. With both of us in there I felt very claustrophobic and anxious. But I still think anyone would.  Perhaps I should have given myself more time to recover and calm down, but being me, I didn’t. That was the first sign of my lack of insight.

How a lack of insight after a brain injury can cause problems.

Then James said I should have a go at unlocking the door from the outside. (This is when my inner diva started to throw TV’s out of her hotel room window.) I tried a few times, and for some reason I couldn’t do it. It’s no better than our current haphazard system. James calmly made me try again, and yes I could in fact operate it just fine. It didn’t occur to me that my bad mood was affecting my ability to do anything. And the mood continued for hours, until I had a long nap.

A lack of insight  can leave me with such a hang over.

The following day I was shattered. I kept falling asleep and any plans I might have had for the day were off.  But I still didn’t understand why. The penny didn’t drop until James told me he noticed I slipped into a state when testing the door lock. I’d almost forgotten all about it. And then I remembered how annoyed I had suddenly become, and how I couldn’t contain my contempt. I was surprised because I thought I could spot my moments now.

Problems that a lack of insight after a brain injury can cause.


Luckily James is good at staying calm and not taking offence when I get like this. But I realise the majority of people would find me very frustrating. So if family and friends are not sure how to deal with these situations, I suggest reading 8 ways to manage a lack of insight after brain injury by Headway. Also on that page they have a link to their fact-sheet which is really helpful. We all have an inner diva, just don’t let her think she’s boss.

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Do you find yourself in trouble from a lack of insight of your behaviour? What would you like others to understand when you are having a moment?

It might be obvious to others that your brain has started to struggle. But a brain injury survivor, can have a lack of insight. Until it's too late....
It might be obvious to others that your brain has started to struggle. But a brain injury survivor, can have a lack of insight. Until it's too late....