Breakdown after brain injury

My partner of 10 years suffered a brain injury last year (a bleed front and a bleed back of his brain... And a broken back) 6 weeks ago he left home and has decided that his family did not happen, I collapsed at work yesterday due to under eating and emotional stress, after a very long and in depth chat with the paramedic about everything that has been going on he said it is not me that needs to see a doctor it is my partner, who is showing all the signs of having a breakdown. I am stuck as to what to do as it is so awkward between us, even tho I know him inside and out he is like a complete stranger after 10 years. The paramedic did actually call his doctor due to be concerned enough to do so and as an obligation due to some of the symptoms. I need some advice on how to be here for him and let him know I am here for him when/if he decides to come home. I love this man so deeply that I am not prepared to just give up and throw away the amazing and special relationship we had. I was his universe, he put me on a pedestal and adored me but now it's like there is nothing, surely he must still love me? I don't know what to do! The paramedic said he needs to have a brain scan. Can somebody advise me on what I should be doing? I am so emotionally stressed and so down about it all I would do anything to get back what we had and what we were

31 Replies

  • Oh gosh that's harsh for you. I need to re read your post, my bi means I have to read things a few times to grasp them. Letting you know until then you are not alone and we all will help. Hugs x

  • This could be my story! Do go to your doctor and insist that an appointment is made urgently for your partner to see a neurologist (and a psychiatrist if possible). He needs a scan, testing etc. Ask your doctor for the local mental health team to visit . We reached breaking point last year when my husband left home for 18 hours, came back and announced that he was leaving, was selling our house, was getting himself a flat, wanted nothing more to do with me. I got social services, mental health and everyone I could think of involved and between us we managed to get things back to (relatively) normal - although with a bi 'normal' isn't always quite what you expect. Also phone Headway first thing on Monday morning to get any help that they can offer. Don't let your own health suffer, you must keep strong for yourself and him. He is not himself at the moment, you need to be the tough one for you both of you and you cannot do that if you aren't eating or looking after yourself.

    Lots of lots of luck to you both and hugs for you. Keep strong, you can do this.


  • Hi Jan,

    Thank you for your reply, I added more below but I will definitely ring headway, I'm not sure how long his doctors will take to act on the information and given to him, I'm sure they have to act quickly if it's quite serious?

  • Ok re read first bit re family, has he no memorie now ? Xx

  • The paramedic said he needs to have a scan and as my partner is such a mans man and doesn't like people knowing his business he said best way to go about it was for him (paramedic) to call my doctor, which he did whilst I was with him, just to express his concerns not only about me but about my partner as he said my doctors will write to his doctors (we use different practices) as they will be obliged to, he also called his doctor while I was with him and expressed his concerns, his doctor said he had seen him in the last 6 weeks but I think that was only because he smells this awful smell all the time even tho there is no smell and the doctor said it was brain damage, I'm pretty sure he hasn't been for anything else apart from that, as he does tell me little things. So now I have to wait and see if he gets called into doctors, I can also act dumb as the paramedic has done it off his own back after chatting to me so It doesn't get blamed on me, we did talk about everything going on for 1.5hrs, I did feel relieved that he called his doctor as I don't feel I have the right to do it even tho I knew there was something wrong, I thought he was having a breakdown but now a professional has confirmed my thoughts I feel better. I knew he wasn't himself, he is so different to his normal self. He has memory but he actually forgets things the kids did growing up and this includes the 2 younger ones who are only 4 and 2 so it's not that long ago to remember things they did. People think I am using the excuse of his brain for him leaving as they think he is awful and horrible for what he is doing but I know it is his brain, I think I know him better than he knows himself and I hate people thinking bad of him when I know this is not him.

    I am eating and sleeping (not a lot) but I did have breakfast before I collapsed at work yesterday so I think maybe it happened for a reason for me to have the chat needed with the paramedic so that hopefully he gets the help he needs to badly

  • youve got a new man hes not very nice. we cant help it. my behaviour sent my wife into melt down at an appoint to to see our gp and i got referred to a psychiatrist ( ive also seen a neuro psychiatrist ).

    now heres the problem youve got, they havent havent got a clue how we re feeling whats happening to us .....why.....because they havent got a brain injury and thats the only way to understand and i wouldnt wish it on anyone.

    youre about to be very lonely possibly , depending on how your partner reacts to yours and his friends, your relationship may even break down completely.

    all is not totally lost though.......find your local headway group, people who know what your going through and others with bi s for your partner to speak to.

    good luck


  • Hi Steve

    Yes your message set me off crying again as I am so worried I am going to lose him forever ☹️ He is such a private man he doesn't like anybody knowing anything about him, he would go crazy if he knew I was discussing him on here, even tho nobody knows who he is as its just a description about him and no names mentioned. I knew what triggered his moods and I've always been aware of when to just not say anything and leave him be, yes he is a new man but it's not like he changed immediately after his accident (last July) it has been a gradual change and especially over the last few months. I'm hoping that if the doctor arranges a scan for him then he will know there is something wrong and it wont be me pushing him to get help... As he thinks there is nothing wrong with him! He gives me a hug when he leaves and squeezes me so tight some times... I know my man is in there, I know he loves me I just need him to get help so that maybe the man I had comes back, I see it in him, I see the old him trying to come back and then all of a sudden this stranger who sits with head in his hands appears 😞

  • Becky, my husband couldn't remember anything that had happened in the years before his accident but it did more or less come back. Do please go and see your doctor (and his doctor if you can) and push, push, push for some testing. Get him on this site if you can, there are plenty of men on here to persuade him that it is not unmanly to sort out his emotions. My husband wouldn't talk to anyone, friends, family etc about his injury but he did find he could talk to the local mental health nurse who visited us very regularly for a while and was a massive help. Do see if you can get the mental health team involved, they are so knowledgeable

    lots and lots of luck and good wishes.


  • I am going to go and see my doctor, I want to ring his doctor too but the surgery he is with are really a bunch of ......... Even the paramedic rolled his eyes when I told them what doctor he is under. He is drinking a lot, burning the candle at both ends completely!!! Popping in very briefly to see the kids who he doted on?! He text me last week and asked if I was ok, I said I was and asked him if he was and he said he didn't know what was going on, I asked what he meant and he said... With me, doesn't matter and then he changed the subject and asked if he could see the kids the next day, I said he could obviously and also said he can talk to me if he wanted to, he just then replied with ok and night, I just wish he would open up. I think deep down he does know something is wrong but just can't say anything. He has just shut down regarding anything to do with us or him

  • Becky, I'm so sorry about your partner's injuries and the fallout from them.

    Brain injury can bring about many changes to the survivor ranging from physical through to cognitive and emotional.

    Many of us here have undergone varying degrees of personality change ; some experiencing anger/aggression issues.

    The available treatments can help (CBT, Neuropsychology, drug therapy etc.) but obviously the person with the brain injury has to initiate that treatment. But so often the injured person doesn't accept there's a problem because the damage to the brain has radically altered their perception of everything & everyone.

    There's a term we use often on Headway ; 'The new me' is how many of us see ourselves and it can be very, very challenging for loved ones learning to cope with that 'new' person who they've known so intimately, once he or she has undergone these, often radical, changes.

    You need to focus on the care of yourself and your children as, if/when your partner returns, you'll need to be strong enough to meet the demands his issues have created.

    It's heart-breaking how lives can change in a moment but, with treatment and willingness to adapt, life can eventually return to a 'new' normal which can offer a different type of quality, but quality all the same.

    It's good that you're contacting Headway ; take all the help which if offered and don't forget to take care of yourself.

    We're always here my dear. Love Cat xx

  • Thank you Cat, all you have said is so true!! I have even self referred myself for counselling which starts in 2 weeks so he can see I am willing to get help for myself (as he thinks it's all me) the paramedic said I don't need it but they will be able to give me help with coping strategies. He definetely needs to accept there is something wrong with him to be able to go and ask for help, I'm sure he will get there and my absolute gut instinct is he will come home... I don't think it will be for a while but that is my gut feeling xx

  • With your intelligent/realistic attitude I wouldn't mind betting that there will be better days to come for you and your man !

    Please stay with us and keep us updated on this new journey which you're taking on with such determination.

    All best wishes Becky. xx

  • Thanks again Cat and I will defo keep you posted on any updates that develop and yes I am so determined as I love this man so much I won't give up on him.... Ever, even if he thinks I will! He always said we would be together forever and forever it will be 🙂


  • Go girl !! ;-) xx

  • Go to bed and get some sleep Becky, with small children to look after you must be exhausted. I think it is common for bi people to think it's everyone else with the problem, not just your partner. I get it all the time. Counselling will help enormously, you will learn how to cope, I have been having counselling and it has taught me a lot. Hopefully he will get the help he needs and will be able to come home soon. By staying close and friendly with him, you are doing the best you can. Keep strong.

    Goodnight. Jan

  • Exhausted and running on almost empty so off to bed I go

    Goodnight Jan and thank you again too

  • Becky

    I hope you got some good sleep.

    My heart goes out to you.

    Part of your post reminded me of an interview I read or saw with Richard Hammond after his accident. During it he said that when his wife was visiting him in hospital he kept telling g her she had to go because his wife would be coming soon .

    Not sure if anyone has mentioned it but it g the Headway helpline on Monday. The details are in a pinned post.

    Love n hugs


  • Hi,

    I so sorry you're having to go through all this, and with small children to look after as well. You're in an unimaginable situation. Everyone has already posted helpful advice, but I'd like to add a couple of things. I now suffer from sensory issues as a result of my accident, (I also had two brain bleeds front and back). Smells are one of the things that really affect me, and with frontal lobe injury I'm not always able to prevent myself from announcing (sometimes in public places where it's quite inappropriate) that it stinks. (Often in a very loud voice - not me at all). People eating egg sandwiches on the train/drain smells/loo smells/engine-type smells on public transport/seaside smells/woodland smells/cleaning product smells/cafe smells.....even some normally perceived to be 'nice' perfumes set me off. When I say that a smell is bad, I don't mean bad, I mean so obnoxious that I feel like I'm going to be sick. This is also an issue in supermarkets. I wonder if your partner is feeling the same? It's an overpowering sensation.

    I'm so sorry that he's said he wants to live alone, but I can understand where he is with that as well. It's not easy to deal with, but I feel sure he doesn't mean it the way it sounds. It's more a 'I can't deal with this situation and wanting to hide from it, and as you say he's normally a private person, maybe even not wanting to reveal his issues to you, (or anyone at all if he can help it) .

    I have a very supportive family, but with one thing and another I've had strong inexplicable feelings since my accident of 'I need to get out of here'. I feel hugely guilty for even letting that thought enter my head when I don't mean it, but the neuropsychologist says it's almost a natural reaction. Putting it simply ..........something bad spend a while in hospital, and then you come 'home' , except home isn't what it was before you had the accident. Smells/lights/sensations/tastes/'things around the house' - everything seems to have changed unexpectedly. It's frightening not recognising your own home / clothes / feel like you've burgled someone else's house. (I also have visual perception problems & dizziness - both are showing good signs of improvement - or at least I'm settling into 'being' like this). For a time your emotions are all over the place. Again, I'm starting to regain control of emotional labile issues, but I wouldn't wish it on anyone. It feels like you've become an adult toddler. You seem to unexpectedly have an over the top out of character reaction to the most minor thing. In my case this is both laughter and crying at very inappropriate times, or simply stating the truth at a time when it should least be said. (this happened to me at a funeral - let's not even go there). This carries on improving, and then you start realising you're doing it (well I have), and it's incredibly embarrassing, especially in front of your children.

    People are tryeating you differently (because of course you ARe different, but you might end realise this for a long time). So you start thinking about that too.........why is everything different and why is everyone behaving like this towards me? ......never suspecting that you're part of the situation. :(

    Then finally (in my case) you almost wake up to the fact that this is maybe how things are now. You see your partner going to work 'as normal', your children going to school 'as normal' , your friends and the whole world all carrying on around you 'as normal' - but you start to realise that you're not your 'normal self' and in fact the situation is actually far from the normal you've known all your life. It's a feeling that can destroy you, keep you awake at night, ruin your life for days on have to try and fight it.

    You might feel angry, frustrated, upset, silly for making a fuss, sad, embarrassed, confused, hurt, and a million other what's the natural thing to do? Run. Remove yourself from the situation. Pretend it's not happening. Tell yourself a different story ............Maybe even not realise that there's something the matter, or that with professional help things could be improved. I imagine your partner might be feeling like this maybe?

    So moving past this phase you start thinking 'oh this is how it's going to be - I better deal with it.......running away isn't going to solve anything'. That's when you have to do the hardest thing and accept the situation. I imagine your partner hasn't yet accepted that anything might be wrong, or that anything can be improved? Or maybe he is starting to accept it but would rather not? He may just be totally overwhelmed (as I'm sure you are) with all of this to deal with.

    I'm hoping to return to work shortly, and just to give you an indication of how far I've moved on, I called my boss from hospital and asked if I could have the week off. That was a year ago. I didn't realise there was anything wrong. I didn't realise how long I was going to be in hosptal, or in recovery. I didn't realise I couldn't walk properly, or think properly or a tailor manage anything on my own. I'm only just getting to grips with it all. It's all been like a very crazy nightmare. I feel frightened at how I was back then without even being aware of it. How could you not know you weren't well? I keep asking myself that.

    I look to the future now because I can see lots and lots of improvements. But I didn't get to this stage on my own. I've had high quality support from a community neurological team. A whole range of physio/audiology/neuropsychology and other specialist help. Most of all I've had the understanding of my partner and children. (I'm afraid I've isolated myself from friends for almost a year - and suffer from a weird indifference to them, not their fault at all......completely mine. I'm starting to think 'I should go out and meet so and so for coffee.......but it's hard.......what's that about?

    I still struggle with emotional connections but am learning to live with the new me because of my partners support. I wouldn't have survived this year without him.

    Cat is really need to put yourself and your own wellbeing first - only then will you be able to provide the additional support your partner needs. I know brain injury is different for everyone, but I believe that most people here will tell you that time is what is needed for recovery, everyone has a different experience, and everyone needs different amounts of time for the grieving for their previous self, healing and acceptance and moving on to whatever life holds.

    I really hope you're able to get the help he so obviously needs, and I would also call the Headway help line as other people have said. Don't give up.......this is probably the 'rock bottom' , so the only way is up. :) Take care of yourself :)

    I wish you all the very best, and as other people have said......welcome, you've come to the right place. X

  • Hi Elenor, everything you have said seems bang on to what he is experiencing but he doesn't seem to realise it's him at all. He got cross yesterday at work and asked me who I had been talking to, I asked what he was on about and he said everybody at his golf club was saying we were back together and making a go of it and he was at home all the time and we were constantly texting.... I haven't said this to anybody as its not true and he said "you know how I feel about talking about things to other people" he then left work and came back a bit later on and was like a different person! I think this is rock bottom and its trying to get the ball rolling to start to climb the hill again, I am alway going to be here for him but he does not open up, he shuts down and he seems to have shut down and gone off to live this single life. I'm sure deep down he does realise there is something but wont admit it to himself. I am going to make myself a doctors appointment so that they know what is going on and so that they can speak to his doctor again regarding everything that's going on with him, at least then if they call him in then he doesn't have to say what is going on as they will already know and they may well be able to delve deeper with the info I have provided which may give him the opportunity to say "yes I think there is something wrong with me" He actually called me this morning and said later on we should take the kids out (including me in the outing) I have said yes and im hoping that a bit of time with the family will start to make him "miss" (not sure if that's the right word to use) what he has got waiting for him at home. I know when he first left hospital he struggled badly with the noise of the kids at home, maybe he still can't handle the noise but he had work things going on and kind of said to the neuro lady he was fine and she signed him off as fine?? I'm sure had she kept seeing him she would have realised he was not fine, he is very clever at pulling the wool over your eyes. I don't know wether I'm meant to text him to say I love him so much and that I am always going to be here for him when/if he wants to come home and make a go of it again, I want to make sure he knows I will always be here and I love him but I dont want to seem clingy and push him further away. I'm hoping this afternoon goes fine and he copes ok and that it doesn't just stress him out. I'm really glad I came onto this site, I looked at it 6 weeks ago but only just got the courage to join and discuss things x

  • Oh goodness - he's the first person I've come across who does that 'telling everyone he's absolutely fine' thing (which I do a lot). I managed to escape an extended stay in a hosp rehabilitation unit by doing that - my poor husband came to pick me up bewhilderd as they'd I up just told him the day before I was being moved to a specialist unit at the end of the week. I've sadly done this exact thng with poor husband looking on flabbergasted in front of many health professionals :) I can't help it - I'm a very positive person and whilst I was always amicable & friendly before my accident - I'm even more so now, even with total strangers :) at least I'm starting to realise I'm doing it. The neurology report came back saying that I 'didn't seem to realise I had a problem and wasn't aware if my limitations ' . I think that's what helped to make me understand very recently. I sincerely hope the HR doctor doing my assssmsent next month does t have access to that.

    I do hope your partner gets the right help - it'll surely make all the difference. I've sent u a private message as well. X

  • Yes he is like that, 24 hours after being in hospital with his back broken and the bleeds he discharged himself and got a friend to pick him up, not telling the person what was wrong with him, I was horrified when he got home and only an hour after I had got home from visiting him myself! He was in hell of a state the next morning and after I spoke to the hospital to ask why he had been discharged (he said they had discharged him) they said he had to get back immediately, I got an ambulance to take him back as I did not think it a good idea to drive him in the state he was in! I will read your private message but it hasn't come through yet. Thank you for all the info about yourself it's very inciteful X

  • becky youre that scared have him sectioned, he ll get the phychiatric treatment he needs

  • If I did that I would lose him forever... Softly softly catchy monkey as they say, I gotta be careful how I get him the help needed otherwise he will flip his lid, there will be no way back for us then! He isn't a danger to himself, part of my worry is his lack of concentration whilst driving which is a cause for concern (1 x accident and 2-3 near misses in 7 weeks) and this is why the paramedic took it upon himself to speak with his doctor as an obligation to the public. Fingers crossed they act upon this, I have a doctor appointment next week myself to go through it all as advised by the paramedic and also I have been encouraged to by members on here, I'm sure they will get the ball rolling if it hasn't started already after my chat last week with the paramedic. Maybe they can just arrange a brain scan appointment to arrive in the Post "a routine year on scan" to check for recovery?!

  • Hi Becky, I can't add anymore than the others but you're in the right place on here for support. Take care.Kx

  • Thank you, every bit of support is encouraging, it helps to keep the tears and emotional stress at bay, keeps me distracted from this horrible situation X

  • Oh Becky I've only just read your post! I don't think there's anything I can add that hasn't already been said or advised to you but I would like to say how much I admire you and your determination to help your partner! I wish others could follow your example and understand head injury and how it affects people! My heart goes out to you, I really hope you achieve your goal and that you keep coming on here for support/ to vent and to share your story of your journey! You lovely, lovely lady! You so deserve for things to get better. May true love conquer all! Take care of yourself through it all tho. Best wishes. xx

  • Thank you for your lovely message, I am so determined to help him, even though he doesn't think anything is wrong. we went out today, 1st time as a family unit in the 6 weeks and 6 days since he left, and he has not long left. He was very distracted by his phone whilst out (I did not show my annoyance at this as I know better than to do that) he did seem odd out but when we left he got us a Chinese and we all ate at home, he watched some tv, he did sigh a few times like he wanted to say something but he didn't,and then as he left he gave me such a big hug that lasted about a minute and he squeezed me so tight, I wished it wouldn't end and then I contained my tears until the moment the door was shut... Then the flood gates opened ☹️ I sent him a text just now and said thank you for today, the kids love spending time with u....And so do I, he has sent me back some kisses. I wanted him to know that without seeming too needy, I wanted to text "I love you so much please please please come back" but I resisted the urge to do that! I will definetly be on here all the time, to update/vent/gain new advice and to give advice if I can through my learnings. I am very grateful for everybody replying to my post and for giving me advice and encouragement for the situation (which I hope with all my heart is temporary) xx

  • Oh I so hope it is temporary too! You deserve so much for it to work out. My fingers and toes are crossed for you! You did very well today again, it def can't be easy! You sound like an amazing lady! xx

  • So an update, after visiting my doctor on Tuesday he advised I wait 24 hours and call my partners doctor (yes I will always call him my partner even if he isn't here for a mo) so I bit the bullet, as I decided I have nothing to lose doing it and only everything to gain, i went through everything that is going on with him to his doctor, who kept saying he couldn't tell me anything but he would note my concerns and I just kept saying that I knew that he couldn't and I wasn't asking him to discuss anything and I knew my partner probably better than he knows himself and this is not him, this is a stranger and I am worried, I tried to put the idea in the doctors head to call him in regarding his sense of smell "hi, haven't seen you for 6 weeks, maybe come in and have a chat about sense of smell and if no improvement then maybe we will send you for a scan" I said that my doctor had said he would call him in if he was his patient and also what the paramedic said and also what has been said on here. So I'm am hoping his doctor calls him in, today at work he informed me his face feels numb one side, This has been happening over the last few months so I again told him to go doctors! We were also generally chatting and I happened to mention my mental health, he replied "I need to sort out my mental health" so I don't know but I think that maybe a slight realisation is happening and he is starting to think that maybe there is something wrong with him, i have yet to actually ring headway as this week has been pretty manic for me but at least I have called his doctor and have said all my concerns and told him everything that has been going on. I think sometimes maybe patient confidentiality should be slackened slightly so that a doctor can speak to somebody named as a next of kin openly about what's going on and especially if there has been a brain injury

  • dont forget we re part of the headway group so you can always talk to us about the more well you know


  • My partner still has yet to be called in by the doctors, he actually text me the other night and said "unless I'm having a mid life crisis what is going on?" So there is definetely some realisation that somethings is not right in himself. We spent yesterday together as a family and it was really nice and he said things about the future that makes me think he will come home eventually, he even spent time with the children alone and really made an effort with them. His back has been playing up the last week and he said he may go and get it checked out... I literally can't wait for him to go as the doctor should then discuss how he is in general and hopefully get the ball rolling and get him a much needed brain scan! Anyway just thought I'd give a quick update, not a lot has changed but small things seems to be starting to! 🙂

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