Struggling :-(

My 20 year old daughter sufferred a brain injury as a result of a bad traffic accident back in February of this year and spent 3 weeks in an induced coma then a further 5 weeks in hospital. She then had 4 weeks at a Rehabilitation Centre. While she 'appears' back to normal in that she returned to college and completed her Beauty Therapists course and has started her own business now, she is extremely emotional and her moods are up and down, often breaking down in tears for no aparent reason. She has like panic attacks and hates loud noises and the slightest little thing can send her 'over the edge' so to speak. Her dad and I thought we were doing really well with her but I am finding it so dificult to deal with. I dont know how to deal with the situation ie. what to do or say and it is bringing me down too. Would love to hear from anyone who has any suggestions on how to deal with this. Thanks Jo xx

33 Replies

  • she needs therapy, she has done so well to get so far so quick, and we do push ourselves too hard, and distraction is a common coping mechanism

    i would suggest proper CBT, see my long post in this thread i wrote earlier

    she needs to learn how to cope and manage her symptoms, and trust me she can do it, especially as she has come so far in such a short time

    the best thing you can do is support her and take any stresses you can away from her (But dont damage yourself, you need to stay strong and healthy too)

    also contact headway on their Free helpline 0808 800 2244

    or email them

    but she sounds like a strong person and she will learn to manage any symptoms she has, and its still very early days in relation to a head injury so the more help she can get now the better it will be for her

    if you have any specific questions please ask, sorry for quick reply but i have to literally go out the door now

  • Oh thank you so very much. I thought I was on my own here and I don't want to get so down that I can't help her. She has done so well and I think we are all maybe expecting too much too quickly. It just breaks my heart to see my once so laid back, easy going and sociable girl so withdrawn now and her panicking at the thought of going out socialising. I have made a doctors appointment so will see if they can arrange counselling. Thanks again you have uplifted me xx

  • try and get a referral to a behavioural psychotherapist

    this is where she will probably get the most help, ut you might have to put up a fight to get to see one, without going through basic counselling first.

    does she have access to her consultant or is it back through her GP

    i reckon the consultant can refer her to a behavioural psychotherapist

    quicker than a GP can

    if you can get a referral there asap then i think she will have the best chance of getting help that works, but dont expect anything to change overnight, it could be months before you notice anything or even longer

    if she ever losers her temper and says bad things trust me its not personal and i know its hard not to take it personally (i have said this so often to so many people but for me its important because i was so nasty after my accident and wish someone would have said it to my family)

    its imposible to tell how a brain injured person will turn out, as it affects all so differently in many ways, but si similar in many other ways but with love and support and patience (lots of it) things will get better for her, how better, depends on how her brain injury affects here once as many symptoms that can be dealt with, are dealt with

    you can alway come here and let off steam, we as brain injured people are not easy to live with and we do understand that we impact and hurts others as much as we do ourselves

    just fight to see the right person from the start

    i can only speak from my experience so anything say could do with being checked with by the headway team, as much as we want to help, we only have our own experiences to go on, and no training in al of this so check with headway on their free number and at least they can point you in the right direction if i haave got it wrong

    this might help

  • Thank you so very much for your kind words and advice. She was discharged from the Nuero surgeon back in June and we have had no aftercare or support whatsoever since she left intensive care. It's hard when you feel so alone but I will definitely contact Headway and try get some more advice. I know it's going to take time and as I said before because she looks and appears 'normal' people assume that she is fine. Will see what the GP has to say when we go a week on Tuesday. Meanwhile thanks again and I will keep you posted xx

  • Hi Jo-Jo

    I can relate to so many of your daughters symptoms,[my B.I was March this year] I still have some of them now. I've also lost 2 good friends here who didn't understand because of things I said. I spent 6 weeks back in UK in summer, spent in several different friends or family homes,it helped me enormously and don't now get as emotional or stressed as I used to (I'm back in France now) My brain injury is not as bad as hers but loud noise especially is awful - my ears also felt permanently blocked,like whn you fly. I know what you mean about feeling alone and having no support - but you have support here from the experience we all share.

    Difficult I know, but all I can say is have patience, she will improve, even if slowly. I can't get here in france the counselling or help that there is in UK, but I find the Headway site and this forum so encouraging - even if I do seem to repeat my living circumstances, I did visit the Essex branch in summer and spoke to a lovely lady there who will talk to me on the phone if needed, so take heart there are people there at Headway as well as here on this forum who will, encourage, help and support you when needed. because I do undeerstand the value of being able to communicate with people who understand what you are going through, also your daughter. x

  • Hi SAMBS. Thankyou also for you encouraging words. To think that just this morning I felt so alone and now I have 2 lovely people talking to me who understand both mine and my daughters problems. I have learnt more through this website in one day than the last 6 months. I'm so glad that you are recovering well. As I said earlier Victoria appears normal to the outsider and to a certain extent she is but it's the personality changes and the panic attacks and crying that hurt me so much as I don't know how to deal with them. I'm going to as GP if we can get a referral to some counselling as 'bikerlifestyle' suggested. Thank you so much for your words of support. They reali are very much appreciated xxx

  • Hi Jo-Jo9 - glad I was able to help. Please always know you have friends on the forums to talk to. Good luck with the GP, hope you get appointment for a counsellor for Victoria soon. Shirley x

  • I had my brain injury in 2004 and still get panic attacks now. Most of the other symptoms have dissipated, but I identify completely with your daughter. What she will need most from you is your love and understanding. She has to go through the whole learning process again, because of the memory loss, she needs to re-learn about how to control her emotions again. All these things come with time. A quick fix is not going to happen.

  • I too recognise an awful lot of myself in your post. I had my accident in '94 and although I now 'look normal' I am far from it. Coping, changing, learning to live with the 'new you' are all part of the brain injury conundrum. Fortunately, for me at least, it did get easier in time and I suspect it will too for you and your family. This is no overnight thing however and it really can be a long road. But you WILL get there and in the meantime never be afraid to ask for help and advice.


  • I am so overwhelmed by the amount of support from you all on here. It's very uplifting to know that wer not on our own any more ;-). Huge thanks to ALL of you xxx

  • Hi Jo I feel for you as we experienced very much the same thing. My daughter had a car accident in 2010 and had to leave university. She came home and although she did suffer with viral meningitis and then headaches she was relatively emotionally stable and after a period of time her emotional state deteriorated, crying, horrible panic attacks, flashbacks, anger, anxiety, irritability - symptoms seemed to change constantly. She suddenly couldn't drive in the dark or on motorways, she became scared when walking in shopping malls, very sensitive to sounds! She developed balance problems and dizziness. We have tried everything with the nhs and also paying privately but unfortunately we find that the doctors and consultants all want to treat each symptom individually and they don't look at the whole person. On a positive note, the panic attacks have lessened a lot and many of the early symptoms have got a lot lot better too but we sort of wait to see what will happen next even now. Our most recent visit to the Head Injury Consultant was disappointing as he refused to refer her for an MRI on her neck and we believe most of her symptoms come from her neck. Stupidly it is only recently that we started to learn about the long lasting effects of head /neck injuries - we were too busy dealing with the symptoms initially and we have only just thought about getting help from this organisation. Things are a lot better for us now but I fully understand how your daughter seemed to be coping and then deteriorated it must be a usual pattern. Hope things get better for you all.

  • So sorry about your daughter 'Blossomsmum' but glad to hear that she is finally showing signs of improvement. We just feel that we have been left to our own devices now. To say that the Consultant said we were so close to losing her and then just discharged her in June with no follow up or back up plan we feel is the most frustrating thing. She won't drive yet although has been out with her old driving instructor who assures her that there is nothing wrong with her driving. I think a lot of the problem is that she doesn't know what happened or if she did something wrong even tho the Police have said it was purely down to the snow and severe road conditions. She doesn't seem to be able to accept that. It's like walking on egg shells, constantly wondering what sort of mood she will wake up in. I know there are people in a lot worse situation than us but it is a huge change of life that we are all going thru. Sorry for going on about it but its the first time I have been able to 'off load' xxx

  • Walking on egg shells is a phrase we use everyday as you cannot predict what mood you are going to get and it can literally change in an instant. It has and is very difficult for us and as I speak she is having a rise in her anxiety and then she wants to blame someone for everything. How old is your daughter?

  • Yes I have had the same just now in the supermarket. Thankfully she has come home and fallen asleep in front of the fire now! She just turned 20 in August but sometimes you would think she was a stroppy 13 year old. It's so hard sometimes but then I feel guilty for being down as its her who has these problems not me and I know she can't help it and doesn't intentionally hurt us with the way she speaks to us. Just glad I now have people to talk to thru this forum and get advice xxx

  • i am not making excuses for her but in one way we have to be very selfish to protect ourselves

    and she is probably very very lonely even with people around, you can feel so alone and so isolated even when people say they understand or are trying to help, and then you snap

    again non of it is personal i know its hard to not take it personally

    would she consider joining here???

    its often tougher on those who love us because they have even less control over our injury thab we do, we deal with it because we have to, but those that love us choose to be around us still, so for what its worth we all know how much we hurt others,

    headway also offere carers services too, by me there are carers coffee mornings and other services, because they understand the importance of the health and wellbeing of a carer

    also i just had yet another social worker assesment but this time they asked my wife if she had ever had a carers assessment (she hasnt) but she will be getting one soon

  • Thank you once again from the heart bikerlifestyle for your words of wisdom. The only problem with joining a group is that our nearest one is 50 miles away. Some may say its only an hour away but it's having the money for the fuel to get there! I should get her to join the forum then she can speak with all you wonderful people xxx

  • petrol aint cheap these days so i fully understand, and 50 miles either way is a long way

  • Snap, almost identical to me at age 17 in 1979. you are all doing so well in adjusting, as for me that's what it was and is, adjusting to memory, sensory, emotional, physical issues. It does become easier with love, support and acceptance. Must close but will be back. S

  • 'she is extremely emotional and her moods are up and down, often breaking down in tears for no aparent reason. She has like panic attacks and hates loud noises and the slightest little thing can send her 'over the edge' so to speak.'

    Dear JoJo9, I do feel for you and your daughter going through this very tough time. I'm glad you've come here and found some support.

    When I read your message, especially that bit I've quoted above, I felt a lurch of recognition. That is *exactly* how I was after my brain injury. What we didn't understand at the time is that the psychological effects of an accident can take some weeks or months to emerge. At first, you are so busy dealing with the awful physical effects that you don't really think about anything else. Then you start to see symptoms like this developing, and you feel like things are almost getting worse rather than better. Sound familiar?

    I am not a medical doctor, but from my own experience I would say that it is very likely that your daughter is suffering from post-traumatic stress. My neurologist diagnosed this in my case and referred me to a Clinical Psychologist who specialises in trauma. The psychologist saw me regularly for almost a year, working through my symptoms with cognitive behavioural therapy. It was enormously helpful: all the feelings of panic have disappeared. I still hate loud noises and am probably a bit more emotionally 'fragile' than I was before the accident, but I can cope with life again.

    Sorry to bang on about my own case history, but I just wanted to show you that these symptoms are not only quite a normal development after a trauma, but also that your daughter CAN get help in dealing with them. As you know, sadly, recovery from brain injury can be a very lonely road. I would strongly advise you or your daughter to go back to the neurologist or GP and explain the symptoms and ask for a referral to a psychologist. Don't deal with all this on your own.

    I wish you and your family all the very best. Maybe your daughter would find it helpful to join this online community for support?

  • Aelfwyn. Thank you so very much for your kind words of wisdom. I have made an appointment to see her GP but can't go until a week on Tuesday! I will certainly be asking for a referral to some kind of Therapist as I also think that she is suffering some for of PTSD. As I said i earlier posts I think it is possibly the 'not knowing what actually happened' that is causing most of her distress. It is a very lonely road trying to support and help her hut nit knowing how to 'put things right' as a mum is supposed to do is hard to bear sometimes Thanks again for your response and I hope that you continue to make progress xx

  • i dont know what happened in my accident to, i have vague third party stories, but not specific details, it haunted me for a long time but now i accept that i will never know, and is actually better that i do not actually remember because i would have to relive that trauma every day, and i am not sure i could cope with that on top of everything else.

  • Well we think its better that Victoria doesn't remember but it seems to be a big issue for her. Which branch of Headway do you go to bikerlifestyle? Xx

  • i am based in birmingham and am lucky enough to have received funding to attend the day centr twice a week

    headway west midlands is a very active group thankfully

  • I have no recall of my accident either. I'm quite glad of that, but my psychologist did say that not remembering can make it more difficult to process the trauma.

    JoJo9, I know just what you mean, mums are supposed to be able to 'kiss it better', aren't we? I think my own Mum felt something of the same after my accident, even though I was 40 and married. It's tough on the whole family. Pretty bad that you have to wait so long just to see your GP! I really hope that you can get some progress from that meeting.

  • My daughter has a lot of flashbacks, she had the therapy at one place and it was really good but then had more at another and it was terrible, she suffered tremendous disassociation after this therapy and it put her off having more and I understand this - just a warning to others as it is a route often suggested to help deal with the memories or lack of them. I appreciate that some people may have had a lot of help with this therapy but having experienced good and bad I would certainly look for recommendations first.

  • Thanks Blossomsmum. Am so sorry that your daughter had such a bad experience. Am grateful for your insight and I will look very closely into all treatments that are recommended (if any!). She's had a good weekend so far been quite calm with very few outbursts, so we are each others company ;-) xxx

  • Meant to say enjoying each others company! ;-) xx

  • The good moments are wonderful and when they get more frequent you almost forget some of the worst times and hope for smoother times ahead - Ive got so much from hearing about your daughter and all the other people affected by brain injury. x

  • Aww thankyou that means a lot to me. I also have loved being able to speak with people in the same situation. To say that just a few days ago I felt the most lonely person on earth and now I feel so full of hope and determination that we will get our 'old Victoria' back soon. Wer almost there but for the emotional side of things, but everyone has filled me with great hope that all will be ok one day xxx

  • Hi Jo-JO9

    I had a TBI in 2011 and felt empathise with your daughter . I started experiencing symptoms as your daughter. I could not understand why this was happening. I couldn't cope with supermarkets, loud noises, very jumpy, on edge, short tempered, crying all the time, irrational , fixated. I truly thought I was going mad. I have a husband and children and after a couple of meltdowns in the summer where I became soover loaded I completely lost it at a carnival, angry, pushed my husband and then spent the next hour crying. It was made worse that we were stuck in the carnival and couldn't get out. I thought WHY NOW, after seeing a clinical neuro psychologist this often happens when brain injury people start to go out more, go back to work etc, ours brains become overloaded because the connections are broken and takes so much time to go round the long way in our brain because of the injury that our brains overload. I really thought I was going mad or having a nervous breakdown. We went on holiday to CRete in the summer, to try a get back to normal. Looking back I wasn't ready and had a really rough time, very paranoid and angry and tearful. As others have said your daughter does need help . I found my GP not helpful and found my psychologist through Headway but yours might be more helpful. things are improving. I have started antidepressants which I didn't want to take and was quite stubborn but did take and they have help . My psychologist said I wasn't ready for CBT as quite structured but I guess everybody is different. it has been very difficult and seeing my husband, strong, and lovely crying broke my heart. They say a brain injury is likedropping a stone in the water and it ripples and affects the whole f amily. It does get better, but it does take time, Im still on that road, but life is better for us all. A tip , I wear earplugs and sunglasses in supermarket suggested by psychologist. We a re like this due to sensory and ear overloaded, due to lots of colours and noise in the supermarket. It does work. My husband says distraction helps me too. I wish you all the best and here to chat if you want to . Taker care. Sharon

  • Oh thankyou for your response Sharon and am so sorry that you have had such an awful time. It is good to hear about how other people have been affected by Brain injury as everyone differs so much. She has had a good weekend but as am sure you will know that can change quite quickly. I hope you continue to make good progress Sharon and thanks again for sharing your experiences with me, it's very much appreciated. JO xx

  • Hi- I think she has done amazing but is probably in 'meltdown' now as she appeared to 'get' over

    things so fast and now she is slowing down (so to speak). The trauma etc of what happened is having it's effects!

    What with the accident, the injury, trying to get on with normality plus the pressures of hormones (I have son the same age who can suddenly erupt, after being very placid) and he hasnt gone through all the other trauma's! Really feel for you treading on eggshells but i think it will be a time thing and trying to get your daughter to have chill out moments to destress may help and make sure you have some as well to keep your emotional wellbeing. It really is very early days and the best of luck! xx

  • Thakyou Pollyanne. I feel quite selfish when I read of all the other people's comments. We are very lucky indeed to have her come thru with relatively small effects but some days they feel like mountains! (If you know what I mean). I am sure with time things will sort themselves out but thankyou for your lovely message. Jo xxxx

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