Maintaining a relationship or friendship after brain injury

I've never been the most outgoing of people. I have a small circle of friends and a pretty wide group of acquaintances, both on-line and in real life. I've always been happy with that and have never cared much for unannounced visitors. But those who I care about, I was completely comfortable with each and every one, so long as they were in my life in the right context, i.e. where I expected them to be. That's always been normality for me.

In the last 6 months I really can't be bothered interacting with people. I mean, I can talk junk over the garden fence for a few minutes with the neighbour and that's pleasurable, but that's as far as I want to go. Someone I've known for 30 odd years, we used to meet up for food and a catch-up every month or so; haven't seen him since last year because I just can't be bothered. It's only ever been a friendship thing, but I'd like to think we were good friends. He's stopped ringing me because I never answered the phone, stopped texting me because, on the rare occasion I did take the time to answer him, I'd say something like "I'm fine, hope you're ok also." I feel sad about it, I think, but I know I just couldn't / can't deal with him any more.

This will probably sound a bit geeky and odd, but I've played an on-line game for almost 3 years and joined a clan within the game. Nothing sinister, just a place to share common interests with faceless people. Massive way to go - great part of my life. Since the Fall, I struggle to maintain even the simplest of relationships. I've changed clan half a dozen times, I can't cope with too many newcomers at once and I really cannot cope with trying to reply to more than one person messaging me at any one time.

These are little blips in the scheme of things, stuff you can't even conceive until you're right there, on your own, isolated, and knowing that, although it's the only thing you can deal with, it's not really what you want.

I'd just like to get back to my normal anti-social self.

9 Replies

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  • The first thing to do is to contact your friends and explain to them how you are feeling and let them know that you are trying to get back to having a normal social life. They will understand I'm sure.

    Then ease yourself back into the things you want to do again, take it slowly and ask nyour friends to be patient. It may take a long time but it will be worth the effort.

    Take care.

  • You know what? You're right, and I guess I've known that all along. It just seems that the longer you stay away, the harder it is to go back. I've only actually told one friend about what happened, and then I played it down. I don't really know why, apart from the fact that I've never made a big deal about problems that no-one can do anything about.

    I have some emails to sort. I can write things down more clearly than I can express them verbally, because I have chance to stop, re-read and change the words if needed. Actually works better than everything coming out as a disjointed mess lol.

    Thank you for replying, it helped.

    Take care also :)

  • You're welcome.

  • I've left it so long now that it really is too late for reconciliation. Past friends gave up on me months ago and ,honestly, it's a great relief to be free of those commitments. I'm still in phone contact with a couple of people, only because that has always been the extent of those relationships.

    I've spent so much time over the years getting 'stuck in' to situations of neediness and/or illness but since my SAH I've been surrounded by so much illness and death and tragedy that I need space & lots of it. Meanwhile, I keep pretty busy with stuff that I want to do......not what's expected of me.

    Selfish ? Yes. But I think it might be about time to attach some value to my own life & at the risk of sounding dramatic it feels like basic survival.

  • I can relate to that. The friends who are still in my life are the people with whom I've maintained phone contact with as they live too far away for us to meet often. Maybe I'm relatively comfortable with that because it's a coping mechanism, I don't know.

    I don't think it's especially selfish. Life is frighteningly fragile and everyone's journey is unique to them and has to be dealt with in a way that works for "them."

    Thank you for sharing, I'm new to this and still working my way through it.

  • I have a few friends, and my family. Before my Tbi I had many, and I loved it. Now I hate the fact I have the smallest social group anyone my age could imagine, and when I joke about it to my sisters or two close friends really I want to cry. Even if everyone hadn't / I hadn't distanced myself from them i wouldn't be able to cope. When I try to see to many people in a week I feel shattered and run down. It depresses me that I'm not the person I was. That I'm now a 19 year old girl who is forced to live a rather lonely life due to my injury. I cut myself off from a lot of people because they didn't understand my limitations and the affects my injury has caused. I hate it when anyone tells me I'm fine, or 'oh I get bad days too' 'my memory is terrible too' NO you you no idea!

    This is ruining my ability to hold a relationship, I can see that now.. I want (him) to understand I'm not normal, but I never tell him my problems straight away, so I hold it in, I embarrass myself but say nothing, I get tired but fight it out. I argue but don't explain why. Then I snap. Try to explain all at once, (but having a brain injury I'm terrible at doing so) obviously he's not going to understand where it's all coming from. How can he take it all in at once, it's terribly unfair.

    Then he'll believe there's nothing wrong with me, 'your fine... I know you.. I love you for who you are..' But I'm freaking out. Up one minute down the next. Constant feeling of needing to be one my own but wanting to be with him.

    Irritating me by telling me I'm fine. I'm 4 years down the line, still trying to accept I'm never going to be that girl that I loved being. And your telling me I'm fine?! Telling me these pills I have to take for the rest of my life to control my moods and headaches you can fix with your bloody 'love' Witch doctor are you? Then next minute I've pushed you you far and your telling me I've got to 'double drop in the morning' telling me to 'keep moving on because they'll suss me out' how I'm 'messed up' AHHHH you think I don't know this.

    Point being, don't try relationships they f*ck with your head, and the friends that are worth keeping will be there even if you don't talk in a year, I didn't talk to one of mine for 2 he understood. (Sorry for my rant.) x

  • Wow, you're going through some hard stuff atm {{hug}} I'm older than you and thankful at least that I've had some decent times in my life, must be so difficult for you. I'm married so yeah, I can understand a little of what you're going through, I think. I want to talk to him, when I try, well, I can't say he doesn't want to know, that's not fair. But he just doesn't get it and kinda switches off.

    I guess that's a huge reason for me coming here. I want to talk about it, not every minute of every day, but at times, when I'm feeling down or weird then yeah, I need someone to at least understand.

    I know how frustrating it is, but try not to be too hard on your guy. He sounds like he's doing the best he can, and that's not easy when you've not been through it yourself. I'm learning that.

    Always here to rant at if it helps, and thanks for posting you experience, everything helps me right now x

  • The last three months have been hell for my marriage, to a point we nearly called it a day... I thought I was doing more with the kids 4 months and 4years at time of accident... Wife had just returned to work after maternity when it happened, I could read Headways list of emotional and behavioura l effects and tick each one... and had to get the hightened sex drive didn't I , it was high already...

    So when all I wanted was love, encouragement to get better, affection, care, i felt like i was getting nothing... when all my wife was doing was trying to keep our family together... and this made me resent her and get angry with her, which caused arguments, I wanted her to understand what I was going through even though i didn't 100% myself!

  • Hi Dom. Firstly, I read your blog, haven't responded yet but will do, takes me longer these days to keep up with stuff. Welcome to the group, I'm a newbie here also.

    It's difficult, isn't it? I got annoyed with my OH for seeming like he was being distant when actually he didn't have a clue what to say to me and was struggling with me being...ermmm...a little odd at times. I don't think anyone really "gets" how we feel / are unless they've been through it themselves. And yes, he was - still is actually - working 50+ hours a week to keep a roof over our heads and is permanently knackered.

    I'm 6 months in, and I reckon there's a long journey still to go. Good luck on your own journey - we'll get there :)

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