Friends and family of someone who has suffered a brain injury can also find things very hard. They have to work their way through the mind field, and become carers of their injured loved one. But many brain injury survivors can experience some personality changes, which may be temporary or permanent.
This can include things like increased irritability/aggression or apathy/lack of interest as well as suddenly having completely different interests and responses to people/situations.
As someone who had always been very tolerant and patient, the biggest change in me was my moodiness. Unfortunately for James, that meant I was taking it all out on him.
As I wasn’t going to work I didn’t see other people much as I had started to avoid social contact. I didn’t want people to see me like this because I thought they would think I was thick.
But that meant James would go to work, have a long stressful day and come home to this crazy woman who might bite his head off about nothing. Or I would go into grunting teenager mode where I didn’t want to say what I was grumpy about but just display my emotion. He was constantly walking on egg shells. There he was constantly worried about me but I was at times being unnecessarily mean to him.
I was lucky that James was so patient and understanding. He knew that I didn’t really mean it, I couldn’t control my emotions any more and my thought process wasn’t working properly. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt him or find it hard at times. He might have adapted well to being my carer, but it was still draining him.
And then there were the anxiety attacks. At first I didn’t know that was what they were. I just thought that others weren’t understanding the seriousness of what was upsetting me. I didn’t see that actually it was me getting overly uptight about things.
There was one time I had renewed my car insurance and spoken to the insurer to make sure they knew what had happened. Because my accident happened in a company car it didn’t affect my policy. The truck drivers company insurance paid my former employer for the cost of their written off Smart car. But where I had gone on price comparison sites first I had declared the accident. I wanted to get quotes which took the accident into account.
So I received an email after I had paid for my annual insurance that I was being charged another £90. It was for not declaring an accident which other insurers had now updated. I was angry and felt it was such an injustice seeing as I had talked them through it all. It was them who had decided that it didn’t need to be taken into account because it wasn’t my policy that was affected, or my fault.
By the time James got home from work I’d had hours to keep thinking about this situation. So by the time I was telling him about it I had worked it into a massive issue.
You would have thought I was going to jail for a murder I didn’t commit!
He tried to calmly explain I just needed to call them and explain and it would be fine. But I wouldn’t hear it and started to get more angry that he didn’t see how terrible this was. Changing tactic and playing devil advocate with me, he said “if they don’t it’s not the end of the world.” Well that was it. I got so upset that he clearly didn’t understand the injustice I found I could hardly breath. My heart was beating so fast and the short shallow breaths were making me dizzy. James had to try to calm me and remind me to try to breath properly.Luckily for me, he handled it as well as any professional carers could.
It was so silly. The next day I called the insurer expecting to have to fight to get my point across. But the lady I spoke to understood straight away and apologised. She explained a different department would have run the search, not realising the conversation I’d already had with the legal team. So it was resolved in minutes. James was right and I’d had a massive melt down over nothing.
So whilst the patient gets a lot of attention (rightly so) please don’t forget about their loved ones. They need support too. As they have found themselves having to take on the role of carers that they’ve had no training for whilst trying to keep the rest of life running.
You can find support in your local area from Headway. They run group to support carers as well as the brain injury survivor. To find out more go to Headway: I know someone who has a brain injury.
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