Health is Your Wealth Magazine
“Relationships after Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)” April 2016
After traumatic brain injury (TBI), many couples find that their relationship with each other changes dramatically. These changes are very personal and can be very emotional for both people in the relationship.
A TBI can significantly change a couple’s relationship. However, after severe, moderate, or complicated-mild brain injury, both survivors and their spouses or partners must often change many parts of their lives. The following life changes typically affect intimate relationships:
Changes in responsibilities
Changes in relationship roles
Changes and challenges in communication
The relationship after TBI is a working progress . You have gone from a double partnership from where two people work together, make decisions together to the one partner making these for both. It may not seem a hard task to do, but it has an impact on both partners that makes you realise that everything will be forever different.
What responsibilities that were the TBI survivors have now been passed on to the partner, now a caregiver, which in turns put more pressure on the relationship. As these responsibilities and relationship roles change the intimate relationship is strained and you wonder can a healthy balance be maintained. You have lost the connections with the person that you trusted the most in your life and in your relationship it is the most painful and lonely experience that partners in TBI go through .
Eventually you have the feeling that your close 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 and another wall goes up in the relationship.
Of course the intimacy is the first to be forgotten about as your head is spinning with all the new responsibilities creeping into your life, where's the time ? How can I fit this in ? The Tiredness and the frustration kicks in and the wall goes up again ! With everything going on who's got time for an intimate moment ? It was Once an equal partnership, will it ever be that way again ? A couple after TBI, making time for intimacy is far more challenging for both partners the caregiver particularly.
It would be nice to return to the relationship before TBI, where the decisions and responsibilities and intimacy were shared by both partners. It will eventually but I have come to terms with it never being in the same before TBI. I have learned that we can not let it take over completely and the relationship will carry on and we will work it out as we go along, talking through our problems as a family unit and showing each other that our relationship is strong enough for TBI, this will be on a different level for sure, it will make us stronger and love deeper, and the truth is all relationships are a working progress, a TBI relationship yes is extra challenging but it most certainly is not impossible.
“Is this ‘The new normal?’” - February 2016
What does normal mean ?
Almost four years into our Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) life the normal that was is not existent as much anymore .
Our life now is the only normality we know. Before the trauma our weekends consisted of family and friend outings, shopping, always rushing here and there. Never having to worry about the distances in which we walked, the places that we could visit, it was normal to never worry about cobbled paths, high footpaths, busy shops and even going out after 3pm.
Normality meant that my husband was working away one week out of every month and worked to all hours. Normality meant that people weren't afraid to approach and talk to us, visit with us or go out with us. Normal meant that the circle of people in our lives were always a stones throw away.
Now our normal day outings are to try to set out a little earlier so the TBI Doesn't take over after 3pm, we must never forget the medicine, it's now normal to visit less busy places and to make sure there will always be a place to sit down and rest, it's normal now to watch out for high footpaths and stony roads and always to take care that the paths aren't different levels for the fear of falling down. As the years just fold into each other, play, socialising and the family life and circle has majorly changed, some of it dramatically.
We've adjusted everything and sacrificed some things but it's all been worth it.
What is normal anyway ??
Who's says that the things we have done before this was normal in the first place . We have a different life now , taking each day as it comes , the things that we thought were the normal things to worry about and the normal things to have aren't important anymore. Each day now consists of taking time to smell the roses and enjoy each others company and to make the most and best out of what TBI has thrown at us.
We look at our lives now and think that it's not all about normality and what we could do before and what we can only do now.
All four of us have been given a second chance to live each day better than the last, to do the things we like to do, yes may be a little different from what we did before but they can be done and enjoyed as much !!!!
As a family unit we have become stronger and have over come much pain but we are together, we appreciate the small things in life and we enjoy and welcome our new normal life with open arms.
Our life is normal, we are normal, TBI is just a visitor.
“The effect on the rest of the family should not be underestimated”
The effect on the family is easy to underestimate. The relationship between the affected and their family can be changed forever and sometimes help is needed to work through this.
Various issues can arise due to a head injury. Sometimes they can be quite dramatic and sometimes they can be quite subtle. Personality changes can be the worse as your family can feel like they don't know you any more. A psychologist can help tremendously and so can Headway, the charity which is specific for head injured victims and their families. Even some personality changes which are considered minor are a major impact. The best people to inform you and will tell you more about how the family feel are themselves and the following is an extract in their words:
To say the least it's been hard. When you see the scene played out in a movie , you never actually think it is going to happen to you. Police knock on the door, listening to what he has to say \, the heart wrenching cries that are coming from your children, and your silently dying inside trying to keep it together for everyone, but its happened so now we have to deal with the outcome whatever it may be. Our lives have done a complete 360, everything has been adapted, adjusted to the new life style we have. Changing from a wife to a caregiver, our children who have also changed from daughters to helpers, but through out have never grumbled for everyday we are thankful that we have a father and husband with us and all the changes are worth it.
“If I have to much to time to sit around I think I will eventually break down”
His personality has changed slightly, being meticulous about certain things and the fact that things need to be done at almost that very minute he thinks about it. We work around these things to please everyone involved and eventually get to meet both ends amicably. I'm having to play both roles now, doing my husbands jobs and mine and I'm tired more now than I have ever been but its best to keep going for if I have to much to time to sit around I think I will eventually break down and not be able to keep it up.
The children miss their Daddy, he was the father you would see racing in the park with them, playing on the swings, kicking a ball and just 100% involved with their everyday activities and life. Now they have adjusted to daddy just watching and it's sad as I know it affects them and my husband too.
“the effects of the accident will soon dwindle away”
All we can do is continue the best we can, help David through his recovery and do things that will involve the girls with all of us doing more than just watching, and continue being a strong family unit, then the effects of the accident will soon dwindle away and the life we are living now will be the normal way of living for us.
"Each issue will discuss various hurdles that can occur during recovery"
Fatigue and drowsiness
Suspicion and Paranoia
Forming and maintaining relationships
The effect on children
Anger and frustration