My sister had a brain aneurysm and is left with te... - Headway

7,632 members10,118 posts

My sister had a brain aneurysm and is left with terrible aggression - can you help?


My amazing sister had a brain aneurysm 2 years ago at 51. She is left needing 24 hour care and has barely any short term memory and little long term. She experiences terrible aggression towards one person in the family. Has anyone else experienced this?

18 Replies

I get cross when people don't understand me, maybe they have less understanding or different manner? I have trouble understanding certain english people (without any strong regional accent) more than others, think coz they speak and think in particular ways that is hard for me to keep up with, this tires me more then I get cross easily. Maybe they do or say things when you aren't there that are cruel, nasty or hurtful, emotional (or physical) abuse? Maybe she never liked them? Maybe she DOES remember some things they said or did to her which she can't forget or forgive?

You say she 'experiences terrible aggression towards' do you mean she DISPLAYS aggression towards or EXPERIENCES aggression FROM? Sorry, I'm confused!

Some people just rub each other up the wrong way = before and after brain injury. Who does that to whom (and what does it) may easily change after ABI. What else is going on (other factors) when this particular person is around that might be causing the aggressive outbursts but that the 'person in family' is there for and gets brunt of? In other words how sure are you that the aggression is JUST towards this person and not others and not caused by other things like time of day, environments, tiredness, like/dislike and so much more?

Maybe sister thinks THIS PERSON will listen to and accept and be able to deal with constant frustrations that she dare not express to others in or outside family? Coz we dare show how we really feel to those CLOSEST often, well I do. ?

Hello Sweet-pea and welcome. Can you tell us a little more about your sister e.g. is she mobile : does she feed herself : is she able to express herself verbally ?

These details can give a clearer picture of what your sister's needs and frustrations might be, and what course might be best for addressing her aggression.

Severe frustration & aggression is common in people after brain injury and there are various types of treatment and coping mechanisms depending on the level of mobility and cognitive awareness. There is support & advice to be found here so please stay and talk some more.

Hoping to hear more from you soon Sweet-pea.

Regards, Cat.

Sweet-pea in reply to cat3

Thank you! My sister is mobile to a point, she can walk with a stick but really not very far. Although she needs 24 hour care she is able to feed herself, she needs support to make sure she does eat and help for her to make her own lunch and of course doesn't leave any gases on and things like that. She doesn't have the motivation currently to think it's lunch time and she needs to eat. However, she does make herself a cup of tea - once a teapot always a teapot!

She can communicate verbally, but obviously struggles to understand her emotions and finds that very hard. She often phones me and says she feels lost and she wants to get back to her oldself.

She is certainly better than we could have hoped for at one point and we are grateful for that. She is obviously slow with everything she does. She lives at home with her husband and youngest daughter. My sister has 4 children, her 2 sons don't visit at all and one daughter visits once a week for an hour or so. The other daughter is the youngest, she is now 19. Clearly the relationship has changed from Mum and Daughter to Mum and carer. Her daughter finds it so hard as the agression is towards her only and when my sister sees her other daughter she makes a big fuss about how wonderful she is for coming to see her. But the youngest is at home making sure that her mum is OK when there is no carer there and making sure she is showering if she is going to Headway for her day on a Thursday. Therefore she has become more of a carer. Her daughter was going to go to University but now she has changed her mind as although she doesn't want to with her mum to experience the aggression, she doesn't want to be away in case something happens.

Over the months I have seen their relationship go downhill and there is now a loss of respect between the two of them. My niece has found it very difficult to walk away when my sister gets aggressive, even though she know it's not her mums usual nature and its the condition causing this. They have got to the point where my sister has hit her daughter - this is something she would never do, when all her children were growing up she never slapped them at ever. Her daughter knows her mum can't control her emotions, but she is struggling with handling it. To the point where she is starting to loose her temper too. So we are getting nowhere with this. We have worked with phsycologists but it really hasn't helped so far.

My sister has had medication to calm her, but it makes her very sleepy. She suffers with fatigue, which I understand is normal and this may change over a long period of time.

I am assuming my sisters frustration is focused on her daughter because she is there the most as her husband works. She is also the only child there who is helping, which is terrible. My sister brought up all her children to be caring but things change when people get married etc.

I live 70 miles aways so dont get to see her as often as I would like but I tend to see her most weekends for a day.

I just thought it would be good to hear if anyone had experienced this and how they handled it and whether it worked. I am getting frustrated myself as I always looks for solutions and I can't find one here. It hurts to see my sister like this but also to see my neice to be going through this too and I feel helpless!

Frustration can sometimes lead to aggression for some of us and over time we hopefully learn to manage/channel these things... but if the aggression is directed at only one person it could be that there is something else going on...

sadly it can simply be a case of wrong place/ wrong time ... when I blow (thankfully less often now) I'm really not aiming anywhere in particular I just let rip and the nearest person gets the lot, whether they deserved it or not (usually not, or at least not to the extent that they receive)

I could think of a few scenarios that could be contributing but without knowing more I would just be wildly guessing...

Sweet-pea in reply to iforget

I think you are right it is frustration and circumstances that its worked out that it is one person that my sister focuses on. I wish I could get her to channel this, it's only been 2 years and from this forum that seem a short period of time. But I don't know how to get her to channel it because she doesn't remember to do it and her emotions take over.

Hi Sweet-pea,

I find I get really angry at the drop of a hat, usually for the silly little things rather than the more major stuff and tend to target it at a person that niggles.

Mostly it's because of frustration caused by the fact I can't do what I used to and it's the silly little things that are the worst, especially when you see someone, who has no health issue, doing them badly.

The neuropsycologist I recently saw and see again on Monday explined to both my wife and I that it as fairly common wiht any type of brain injury.

If the situation is severe it might be worth asking for a referal to a neuropsycologist.

Stangely a friend of mine who had a reputation for being aggresive (record of ABH, GBH, Agrevated assault), had an anurism and his short term memory was totally shot at the begining and has improved a bit over time but still often needs some help with it. His long term memory wasn't affected. The more important point which I should have put first is that his aggression has now gone right down to the extent that he has passed all the official tests to be a 'Doorman' (bouncer) and dor security work.

He is now around 15 years post anurism and progress was very slow at first but has speeded up till I think now he is at the level he is going to maintain. He also gets depressive episodes still but less sevre than at start.

I can only sympathise with you situation and hope thing begin to improve for your sister. Don't ever be frightened to post here for support or advice. If you can't find the answer you want on the forum then contact Headway directly they give great support.

Best wishes


Sweet-pea in reply to sporan

Hi Sporan

Thank you. You have given me some hope. This forum has at least made me feel that we are not alone with this. I think my sister's frustration is the same as yours, she just wants to be back to her old self again and it hurts she can't do what she used to. She have never used the internet and would struggle to remember that she had put a question up on this forum, but I might get her to have a look at this and if she can work it, she could find support. Also, she gets bored as she only watches the TV all day.


Been there got the tee shirt as they say it gets better promise just takes time

Sweet-pea in reply to Hidden

Yes, we were told that it can take up to 2 years, but it appears from this forum that in fact it can be so much longer. I guess it's love and patience all the way. I hate the fact that so many people are going through a similar thing, but I guess at least I know we are not alone.

My daughter had a life threatening brain tummer and is the same towards my granson it is hart breaking some of the thing's she has done and said I no just how you feel xx

Sweet-pea in reply to Redbreast

That must be so hard. Especially when these things are so out of character. How old is your grandson and how is he coping?

Redbreast in reply to Sweet-pea

Hi sweet pea my grandson is25 now he used to live with my daughter they were very close he was like a son to her she came back from her freinds in the early hours and poor chas was a sleep she was so angry saying he had took her money chas fleed to his moms house devastated things have got really bad with me in middle shes started to drink had well which is frightening becauce of her meds very best wishes to you and your sister xx

Thank you all. I am not sure how all this works. Can I put one reply to thank you all for your replies?

Hi Sweet pea. I can understand where you're coming from as can many people here. I wondered if the family member was living with your sister. My partner can get very angry and quite often it's directed towards me. I think these situations are difficult. BI affects everyone in the family as well as the survivor themselves and it is difficult on everyone for different reasons. Is your niece able to get some support too? For her to be able to support her Mum in the best way I think she will need support as well. There are some great leaflets available from headway . I also think reading other people's stories can help. One thing that I think is great about this site is that you get lots of different perspectives. All the best to you x

THank you some great advice!

I have an aunt who cares for her mother practically alone. Rarely, my grandmother, who has Alzheimer's disease, will visit me and my family for 1-2 weeks when my aunt can take a break.

While Alzheimer's disease is not considered to be an ABI, it is very hard to deal with. This is especially true for me because I have lived with VP shunt complications throughout my life and seem to have an apparent ABI that has remained undiagnosed. For much of the time that my grandmother visits, I watch her alone as my brain tries to heal while my body fights the effects of VP shunt malfunctions. Unfortunately, the symptoms of this listed online are not nearly accurate enough and don't describe the complications after seizures occur moment was incredibly tiring m certain problems.

As I live with my own perspective, there have been many moments when I've said things by mistake and barely been able to hold on to what is being said, where I am, who I'm speaking with, what has been happening, whether or not I've given my grandmother medication and if we've eaten, where my family members are and what their reasons are for not helping me help my grandmother, where conversations between two forgetful and stressed people-my grandmother and myself-are going, how our daily activities and the stress I'm feeling with the suspense as I wait for disputes is affecting me and my body, how my head is feeling so that I can get my family in an emergency, and trying to keep track of how much sleep we've had. Each moment was incredibly tiring for both of us, and lack of sleep or too much sleep was certainly not helping us. At one point, the stress became so Iintense that I literally couldn't stand or move and could barely speak slurred words as my grandmother tried to leave our house. Fortunately, at that moment, my sister came in the room. Even when I regained some strength, I could only move and speak like someone who hadn't slept for days or a zombie with an adrenaline rush.

Sometimes, because of adrenaline rushes and chemical imbalances in the brain, my grandmother would believe she had slept and would want to leave, eventually deciding to try to walk to her house (whichever home she believed to be hers) without her possessions or even shoes and similar items because she had been kept away from where she wanted to be for so long. It was heartbreaking that she didn't want to be with her family, and it is even more heartbreaking that my aunt and grandmother live with what they never wished for.

Typically, with brain injuries or any problems affecting the mind, more sleep is needed. Diets and lifestyles can afdect how thought processing works as well. It's best to try to be as healthy as posdible while everyone has some release with exposure to a world outside of their troubles with too much excess on the caregiver's or multiple caregivers' part and that of who has been experiencing the injury. With excess, missing old wats of living may create more stress. Everything requires balance, patience, plenty of deep breaths and even 30 seconds alone when that seems to be decently safe.

Personally, I've had years of sleeping for 24 hours easily and days when I could barely function on an hour of sleep while I could feel an obvious difference in my head, but schedules and love fir my family required me to keep moving.

I would not suggest a certain amount of sleep for your sister or niece since I'm not a psychiatrist or anything of the sort but, clearly, they need help.

When people live in situations that involve injuries and diseases of any sort, they bear incredible instability. Please find any way possible to help your sister and niece live the best lives possible.

I wish each of you well. <3

Sweet-pea in reply to Kady

THank you - I will not give up as I love them both so deeply so I will continue trying.

Kady in reply to Sweet-pea

You're welcome. :-) <3

You may also like...