Struggling girlfriend

Hi all. I've been scared to post for so long but have finally decided I need some advice.

My boyfriend had a serious RTA in April (this year) and was in an induced coma for a week. He had a subdural haematoma, several skull fractures and a broken collar bone. He was in neuro rehab for 3 months after the coma.

We live an hour and a half from the hospital and I was running my own business so I cut my hours back drastically to allow myself more time to visit him every day for several hours.

It's going to sound terrible but after I was over the initial stress of his accident I actually loved the time we spent in neuro rehab. He is self employed too so I got other photographers to cover his work for the 3 months he was in hospital. That meant we got to spend some real quality time together when I was visiting and then I came home and actually missed him and looked forward to seeing him again the next day.

Now he's home after making an almost miraculous recovery but the problem I'm having is that he's jumped straight back into work. Because I cut my hours back at work I had to give up my business premises in town and am now working from home but making little to no money.

So now he is the breadwinner and is working 15+ hour days. I feel like I've gone from being his rock to being a parasite living off of his money and I'm not useful any longer. He had his license taken away for medical reasons and is reapplying but basically all I'm useful for right now is driving him to jobs. I don't grudge it at all but I do struggle with the lack of money and, if I'm really honest, with being at home with him all day. We've both always been really independent people and now it's driving me nuts being in his face the whole time.

I feel terrible for complaining to any friends and family as they all tell me how amazing I was during the hospital times and how we're so lucky to have each other etc. I know I'm lucky, I just can't help feeling so utterly desperate and like a horrible person for feeling this way. I felt so close to him during that time and now I feel like we're drifting apart

I don't know what I'm hoping for, just someone to listen and offer any advice I guess.. Thanks guys x

8 Replies

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  • Morning, Laikadog and welcome to the community.

    You don't need patronising platitudes, to tell you what a thanklessly hard job you've done in the last year, you have been his rock, and nobody can change that. Adapting to life post brain injury is a long journey, you're through the initial crisis-zone, but it's not 'done' yet. Life changes, post-BI, and the two of you will find your balance again, this 'now' is not all that it is, or all that it will ever be, it's a long game, and this 'now' is only one stage of it.

    The initial rush of endorphins, or adrenaline, or whichever one it is that I'm too lazy to look up right now WILL make him want to prove himself, to prove that the near-death didn't beat him, a lot of us on here will empathise with that, because we did it too. That's not to diminish what you did, and the sacrifices you have made, in some respects, it's MORE difficult for the partner, because we, the brain-injured ones, are 'out of it' for a while, through the traumas and comas, and the initial drug-fogs. You're not leeching off him, the two of you are just finding a balance in this new life, I'm fairly certain it will start to adjust and level out, because there's likely to come a point in the future where he realises he can't sustain the 15 hour days. Nobody's 'making' him do that but himself.

    There are lots of partners and carers on the forum, who will be able to give you guidance from their side, from the 'other' side (me being one of the brain-injured posters), there's an enormous desire to prove ourselves in some of us. Your partner isn't deliberately being obstinate in seeking out so much work, and he's certainly not doing it to demean or belittle you. I know from my own experience that I went through a phase of trying to do EVERYTHING, just to prove that my brain injury hadn't broken me- I have no doubt that the balance will find itself between you. You can always phone Headway for support if you're still troubled, you're not moaning or whining, you've had a traumatic experience, and it's perfectly natural for some 'slump' feelings now you've passed the crisis-management stage. You're still you, the fact that you're no longer having to be his Super-Woman detracts nothing at all from you, you did all of that, and now you're in the weird grey-area post-crisis. It passes, I promise you, but it's not an instant-fix.

    We're here on the forum if you want to offload.

  • Don't beat yourself up about this. A major incident like this affects those nearest and dearest at least as much (and possibly more) than the person with the injury. Whilst he was so ill, you took the strain, he was just cared for and didn't have to worry. You have taken on so much during the time he was so ill, it will take you a while to get back to normal. He was the one with the brain injury but your brain has gone through such a lot too.

    The time in rehab was like being on holiday, all normal worries were pushed aside and your time was spent concentrating on each other. Now real life has surfaced and it isn't the same life you had before. It will take a while to adjust.

    Hopefully you will soon be able to re-start your business or get a job where you are contributing to the household. You don't say if he has any lasting memory or cognitive problems following this illness. I am sure that he is appreciative of all you did for him whilst he was unable to continue with his normal life. Let him do his bit now to keep things stable - I am sure it won't be for long until you are both back to some sort of normality. Just keep on trying to get back the closeness you felt, work doesn't matter so much, it is your life together that is important.

    Just remember, he had a life threatening accident. You are both lucky that he is now able to carry on with his normal life, so just enjoy the fact that you are together and well. Everything else will sort itself out, given time.

    Many women giving up work to have a baby feel like you do. They suddenly go from having a profitable job to having to rely on their partners for their money. It just takes a bit of adjustment. Life will get better - it really will. This is just an adjustment time, it will pass. Just concentrate on giving each other as much love and attention as possible.

    Lots and lots of luck to you.

    Jan

  • Thank you so much for both replies. Sometimes it's hard to be sympathetic to myself for all we've been through and I've been getting angrier as time goes on. I definitely need to just let things happen and just be there for him and hopefully all will get better. It just seems so far off!

  • In general you have to look after yourself first and foremost before you can look after someone else. If you went and had a chat with your GP or local headway I'm sure they'd be able to suggest a councilllor.your local hospital may have a counselling service for trauma patients and their families. Cut yourself a bit of slack!

  • You've had a really difficult time for a number of months! You have given a lot to your partner in terms of support, and his recovery may not have been as smooth without your care and attention.

    Maybe it's time to find your own feet again....Maybe get Christmas out the way and and look for a new job. If you have your own agenda and do your own thing you might feel a bit more independent and this may lead to you both getting along better.

    Your partner will also be trying to deal with the big changes that have taken place in his life and may not feel much like sharing everything. He's also probobly beyond exhausted if he's working 15 hour days.

    I think it's important that you get some support too? Go and see your GP re getting some support. Your partner may also be eligible for some benefits such as PIP that are not means tested, this may mean that he can cut back on his hours a little

  • Wise words above! I can't really add to them but I would send you my warm wishes for this path that you are on...

  • My wife would feel the same as you at times too.

    After my TBI, I went straight back to working my business and (rather stupidly) pretended as if everything was as it was before.

    My mother in law passed away suddenly six weeks later so I decided to be strong for my wife.

    About 6-9 months later, I realised that I could t deal with things emotionally but continued to hide it and kid myself that I could.

    Cut a long story short, four years on and I accept the side effects that I cannot concentrate, process information at times, feel mentally drained, physically tired and experience short term memory loss.

    My wife is absolutely amazing and the best advice that works for me to make it better;

    1. Be non confrontational - nagging (even if being caring) will make me defensive.

    2. Recognising the symptoms - my eyes tend to glaze over even though I feel focussed. It can go one way or the other.

    3. Doing lots of fun and stress free things - we love travel, fitness, football, music and make sure we live for today.

    4. Set goals - things that we want to achieve and make a plan.

    It may sound really obvious but the less stress we have in our lives, the easier I find it to cope.

    I have found it really hard to accept that sometimes I need to stop then feel incredibly guilty when I do but it takes time.

    Keep being the wonderful person that you are.

  • laikadog hang in there girl. its tough, just ask my wife. she puts up with a right load of shit from me because of my stroke.

    join a headways group, bf will meet and be able to meet and discuss with people who genuinely understand and you, will meet lovely ladies who have to put up with us ( you can exchange ideas on different angles to throw plates at us ) ha ha ha.

    welcome to the group

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