Headway
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Relationships after TBI

Hi All

I’ve posted on here before. We are 4 years post my husbands TBI. He made a great recovery and people who hadn’t met him before wouldn’t know he had a brain injury. It’s been a tough 4 years but we’ve got through it together. However in October 2015 my husband got made redundant and he’s still not working now. Not long after this we found out I was pregnant. We now have a beautiful boy who has recently turned 1. I’m just really struggling as my whole outlook on life changed when I became a Mum and a lot of things that didn’t bother me before with my husband I know find really hard work like how fussy he is with food and the fact he never wants to do anything. He’s got himself in such a rut and I honestly can’t see him getting out of it. He won’t accept any help either which makes it all the harder. I feel like I don’t have any more to give I’m so drained with it all. I want a better life for us both but I just can’t see any way out. My husband keeps saying he’ll get a job but never does anything about it. He was hoping to start his own business but he’s just putting too much pressure on himself & never gets it started. I totally understand his motivation is affected by his BI & I’m pretty sure he is depressed but I don’t know how to help him if he won’t help himself. The pressure on me is immense, financially and emotionally and I’m feeling really suffocated as he doesn’t go out even socially. I feel like I’m at the end of my rope with it all and I’m thinking being separated might be the best thing now but then I just feel so guilty as not sure how he’d cope on his own. He has no income at all for a start. Not sure what I wanted out of this post - anyone been in a similar position?

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Hi I don't have any advice but I've had a stroke. It really does change your personality and spirit. Your kind of there but you're not. The depression is really hard. I can see that you can feel as if you're sinking. I think we need a lot of support. Which is tough when it's frustrating for your partner too. It's like why don't you do something? When you're in the biggest rut it's so difficult to get out.

Hope you can get some support and care. For yourself too x

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Thanks for your reply spider555. I know it’s really hard for him too it’s just such a difficult situation. Take care x

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If it helps...the shock can get stuck.. I've been pretty much paralysed from shock and trauma. It's getting out slowly but I bet it's worse for men. With the front and not being able to get your emotions out x

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Does your husband understand how bad things are? Is he able to realise that your marriage is under threat? I think you have to make him understand that if he doesn't get help then you won't be able to cope. He needs treatment for his depression to help him be more motivated and probably CBT would do him good too when he could talk through his problems. Any job, even voluntary work would be a start for him. Have you made sure you are getting all the financial help you should be entitled to?

Good luck with it all.

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We’ve had several conversations about it all but I feel like any time I try to lay it all on the line for him or apply the tiniest amount of pressure he starts saying I’d be better off without him, everyone would he hates his life etc then then I just try to change the subject as I don’t want to make his mood any lower. I know it’ll be me who has to make any decisions it’s just so hard as I don’t want to give up on him but I just can’t see anything changing & I can’t accept this life is as good as it will get. We’re not entitled to any financial support as I have a very good wage. Think that’s part of the problem

that he’s not really under any pressure to have to work etc but it’s not just about the money for me it’s about him getting a routine back and some focus to his life he just doesn’t seem to realise this

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Hello. It is soooo hard isnt it. My role is tbe opposite in that I have the brain injury and was the bread winner before. I still feel the financial burden even now and am still in recovery. I feel your pain and anguish. How about making an appointment for him at your GP's and going along with him - dont take no for an answer. If you can get him to go at least you will be able to give the GP thd full story as men dont always (pride maybe).

Will be thinking of you.

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Irose, I suspect your husband needs an ultimatum to get help with his low mood. Sufferers of depression are notoriously difficult to motivate, even though it's ultimately in their own interest.

There's a level of depression which is tantamount to giving up on life and it needs intervention from another person to break the inertia. Perhaps you could insist that he see his GP, accompanied by you, to ask for help in addressing his loss of motivation. That insistance might need the added proviso of 'It's my way or the highway' to succeed.

It's possible an antidepressant would boost his serotonin level enough to kick-start a healthier, more positive outlook on life. I've been where your man is, and I'm only too grateful for someone using the 'Cruel to be kind' tactic to get me the help I needed.

Best wishes to you both............... Cat x

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Irose, I agree with Cat. My husband suffered a BI over 3 years ago and I am very thankful that he has kept his job. He has made an excellent recovery, 95% there I would say. However, he does get tired and he is more irritable. I have adjusted to this and I do pull him up about it (I choose my moments, as low mood is still problematic for him).

You have a baby now and your priorities have changed, for the sake of yourself, your baby and your husband it sounds like its time to take action. CBT, mindfulness etc are good tools to help. Is there anything he takes joy in? Perhaps he needs a business partner rather than going alone completely with the business? Small steps on the road to recovery, with celebrations along the way.

I wish you all well x

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I tried to withhold antidepressants but gave in after 6 months and it's made a big difference . I m so much more contented and accepting if my bi and just want to do more and live life to the full , even tho mine is early days ( 9 months ) I'm just so grateful I survived . So make him get help and realise how lucky he is to have you and a baby boy . Good luck xx

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Woo777 - I'm glad to hear you're so positive about your experience with the antidepressants and feeling grateful you survived. I can't relate to feeling grateful to have survived. So I would say you are very fortunate to have that going for you.

My experience with the antidepressants (8 different ones) has been nothing short of eight trips to hell. They all took me to different levels of extreme darkness, suicidal thoughts, tremors and just overall the most dangerous and hellish experiences of my life. Yes, it was worse than surviving cardiac arrest and a grand mal seizure. I know there are many who have gotten great results with antidepressants, I just can't relate to them at all, based on my own experiences with them.

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Oh bless you , I think I was so lucky , I did have dark thoughts early on but citilopram was defo my saviour , I know I have a long way to go with memory and fatigue but I'm so positive .

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Hello,

I went through a relationship that was similar as a TBI person. My partner never understood or appeared to help or support after the birth of our boy eight years ago. As someone with a TBI I was given no aftercare, was expected to cope with no knowledge of my injury & it's aftermath, personality changes, depression, suicidal thoughts, emotional rollercoaster, social exhile & basically in exhile of reality.

Our relationship broke down because of a mixture of my fluctuating mental capacity, a lack or will to have any understanding turned her into quite a selfish creature. I was find of duped, unsupported to sign away ownership to our join mortgage & I was paid me off with £20 grand on a £480 grand property. 😕

However he needs to have some lightbulbs turned on upstairs. He may be in a similar position as I was. I didn't have the understanding of the full package of my exsistance. I tried to hide everything away & carry on with a brave face not wanting to admit that I had a disability & was unable to cope.

I'm a 6ft 3ins ex rugby player nothing was a problem. I walked, I talked & appeared ok, but my damaged brain was invisible & was missing the old me.

You both need help to approach this.

Please speak to either the Brain & Spine foundation or headway on their helplines.

Hopefully once they hear the issues they will offer you both a way to approach this to enlighten him to how life is for him & how it effects you.

I do hope you get that support & I wish I was able to sit down with him to just discuss how he is from day to day.

Don't let this thing dampen your love for him as many relationships fail after TBI but I hope you get that support.

Please let me know how you get on & I do know it's going to be hard approaching this with him. He will be in denial & thinking everything is fine but he will be hiding the truth unwilling to face it.

Sometimes it can develope into a PTSD situation if proper support is not supplied.

All my love. X

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😊 Listen please. No ultimatums or threats. We have a man that is damaged & if you push then the depression can worsen, the suicidal thoughts & not being good enough then follow.

Be kind, be compassionate. 😊

Speak to Headway, the brain & spine foundation & your GP. If your GP is a good GP then he will put you before a Neurophsycologist that can do all the tests & work that is often missed.

You may need to fight the GP for this as it's taken me 10 years of hell to finally get an appointment.

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Thank you all for your replies. I genuinely have been as supportive and caring as I can be. I don’t want our relationship to fail but it’s now damaging me as a person. I’m a shadow of myself & I need to be strong for my little boy. My husbands Mum and I have educated ourselves as best we can through headway etc and we have a good understanding of how his brain injury affects him. We have both offered to go to the gp with him & he was on the waiting list for psychology but the app letter went to the wrong address & now he won’t go back. The gp was reluctant to give him antidepressants as it could affect his epilepsy meds& he said he would refuse to take them anyway. I don’t want to be resentful towards him but fear this will happen if something doesn’t change & I don’t know what else I can do if he wont accept help. I will try and speak to him again. He said again today he needs to get a part time job to get himself back into a routine but then he never looks for one but I’ll have a look myself & offer to help him.

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lrose08831, I've read all the posts here and want to offer you this - Given that you really can't make him change, you need to decide what you are willing to do and really take care of yourself going forward. You can't give from an empty cup. Take care of your needs very well and you will be better able to make the decisions that will work best in your situation. When all is said and done you have to take control of what you have control over. You have to make choices based on him never making any changes. If you assume this to be the case then I think you'll be better able to make the hard choices and to improve your quality of life. If he wants, he can always come along, but on your terms. Please take care of yourself.

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Thank you x

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First off, clearly relationships change and not all last anyway, but a brain injury causes changes that change the dynamic of it. put simply breakups and divorce are common and understandable so.

It sounds like he's depressed/low mood? has is he seeing anyone for this? and what rehab did he have? it's possible even years later to access it, though not always easy it has to be said. see my recent thread

healthunlocked.com/headway/...

it's just shy of 4 years for myself and we marriage wise, both have though seriously about divorce, partially this year which has been torrid, though we have turned a corner, both of us changing which I suspect is the key, holding on to Roger Mark1 isn't going to work.

with this all said don't feel obliged to stay to look after, but because you love him.

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Thanks for your reply. He’s seen the GP in the past & was on a waiting list for psychology but the app letter got sent to the wrong address so now he’d have to re-refer but he won’t as he doesn’t think anyone can help him. He doesn’t really think anything is wrong with him or the situation. Well some days he does and others not so much. I just feel like I can’t be a positive influence in his life anymore as I’m so drained with it all myself. I appreciate what you are saying about changing etc - I’ve really adapted myself a lot already & I can’t do it any more when he’s not willing to do the same. Hope things continue on this road for you and your wife.

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Just an idea. But if you don't currently, could you be the one that works while he stays at home with your son? Maybe getting a different perspective on life would suit you? And perhaps making friends with other at-home parents would be good for him.

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I already work 4 days a week. He looks after our son one day & his mum/my Nan look after him the others. That was put in place to give him some space to himself and to start his business. I would happily have him looking after our son every day but it won’t help his mood. We go in a circle as he feels guilty as he’s not earning & we can’t do anything together or as a family as he doesn’t want to spend money we don’t have. He’s never been one for socialising anyway but he doesn’t at all now and he wouldn’t go to any baby or parent groups so would just be in the house with the baby all the time. Thanks for the suggestion I have given it some thought already x

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Ah, sorry. No go then. Hope you manage to get through to him. He could try doing some voluntary work, but of course even this require willingness. I know he wouldn't be earning but it might give him more of sense of purpose that he could then build on. Just an idea.

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irose08831 heres the problem with depression, it starts off small and the more you try and dig yourself out of the hole, the further into it youll go, it could be months before you come out of it.

it like everything, if you havent suffered from it you dont understand it.

steve

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Yes that’s true steve55. I like to think I understand as much as I possibly can & all I can do is be there and show my support. Which I have done relentlessly for the past 4 years. However when it starts to affect your own health and mood etc you have to look at the situation and try to work out what’s best for everyone which is what I’m trying to do. Thanks for your comment. Take care.

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irose08831 having a better day today, ive just read my comments which were a bit terse, i apologise for that.

its difficult when you love someone and you see them hurting but youre stuck in youre own world trying to sort you problems out, so you fall deeper into that hole.

thats the best i can explain it, i know it doesnt help the situation though.

steve

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