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My Brain makes me angry

Last April I suffered TBI, now nearly a year on and I cannot control my anger and I have developed some sort of form of OCD. My personality has completely changed and I’m struggling to come to terms with the new me. If my friends or family try to share my drink or the same spoon as me for example, I get so so so angry I could slap them and scream. It disgusts me. This sort of stuff never used to bother me at all. I just want to be alone in my own clean home with no one else’s mess but my own. If my boyfriend stays round mine for the night, in the morning I want him to leave straight away so I can be alone and put clean bed sheets on cos I feel like he’s made it dirty even though he had a shower the night before. I get angry at him a lot cos he doesn’t do things the way I’m used to like tidying up etc. He did washing up and even though he did it good, I had to redo it again because it still looks dirty to me. Him and my family have been so patient and amazing with me so I feel terrible for feeling this way. It’s putting me off him and also my friends and family, just makes me feel sick. Everyone seems dirty. The only 2 people that I don’t feel like this with is my mum and dad. I know it’s strange and I know I’m probably going to end up upsetting people but I can’t help it. I don’t want to be disgusted by my friends or boyfriend! I need help!!

13 Replies

Hello bethk123, and welcome.

I can see myself in you. With me, it's very much a control issue, I can't say that will be the case with you, but, for me, after the lack-of-control of my brain haemorrhage, and the additional trauma of the husband controlling my hospital visitors, my pyjamas, not allowing me to have my mobile phone etc, I needed to control 'something'. I loathe housework, it's tedious, but, after the first few times the in-laws visited me at home, and tutted at dust and such, something snapped in me, and I became the version of me I am now. (I'm not very fond of this version of me, to be quite honest, but it's the version I have, so I need to work with it.)

I have balance and co-ordination issues, as well as visual disturbances, over-sensitivity to smell and sound, constant background headache, and daily fatigue in the afternoon/evening. Being 'me' isn't very comfortable at all, and, in the early days, I assumed I'd 'get better' or 'get back to normal', so I acted normal, because that was easier than having a blazing row with the next well-meaning soul who wanted to tell me how lucky I was. Nobody else did any housework, and, resentful of the enforced 'rest' period, and the tutting in-laws, I became the housework gremlin I am now. (A bit of it was just not wanting to be in the same room as the husband, to be perfectly honest, I'd rather bleach the toilet than sit in the same room with him eating toast with his mouth open, and your changing the sheets reference is very familiar, he'd sleep late on Saturday mornings, and i literally stripped the bed as soon as he was out of it.)

I'm waffling already. I used housework to 'reclaim' some measure of control over something, albeit something ridiculous. What I'd do differently, if I had a time machine (apart from seek medical attention before the brain haemorrhage, obviously) is to tell people when I was distressed/uncomfortable/fatigued, rather than pretending everything was fine, I'd have saved a fortune on cleaning products and scented candles. I didn't, though, I didn't want to 'bother' people, after I'd already upset them by nearly dying. Nobody likes a moaner, so I didn't mention to people that them doing x, y, or z caused me physical discomfort, and I'd prefer it if they didn't. I did, however, have some deeply worrying urges to punch people, for doing things they didn't know were stressful for me. 3 years in, I still haven't actually punched anyone, I do still think about it a lot, though.

The husband would still have become the ex, even if I had asked him to close his mouth to chew, or suggested that the laundry basket was a more suitable place to put his worn socks than down the sofa cushions. It was difficult enough living with him before the BI, it became impossible afterwards. My son is back from uni for the Easter break in a few weeks, and I'm already twitching, knowing that we have very different levels of clutter-tolerance (he slurps his tea, as well, but we're both saliva-fussy, so there's none of the stress about using each other's utensils.)

Casting my mind back to how I was at almost the one-year mark, I can identify with your anger, I was a hateful ball of rage at EVERYTHING, especially myself, for not being 'better yet', and trying to project that I was. (Messy back-story, the ex's Mum died from a brain haemorrhage, our son was doing his A-levels, and there was some major restructuring happening at work, I was an emotional wreck, but 'acting normal' to spare other people's feelings.)

Something happened to your brain, you didn't choose for that to happen, and now your life is different. Adapting to life post-BI can be likened to the 'Five stages of grief' model, it's not linear, though, and nobody can time-line how long any of us will stay in any of the stages. (I had a cracking anger-blip yesterday, with significant urges to do physical damage to the ex, along with verbal threats of the same.)

It's very easy for people without a BI to dismiss the anger with "There's no point getting worked up over little things!" Two of the GP's at my practice actually referred to me, and my behaviours as 'silly.' It's not 'silly', I have lumps of metal where I used to have functional brain tissue, and an assortment of side-effects from two rounds of surgery that make 'normal' life difficult and painful. Assuming your doctor isn't like those two, the anger/irritability/compulsions are having an impact on your quality of life, and straining relationships with those around you, see your doctor, and, for the love of all the Gods, DON'T let them dismiss you with "That might improve in time." As with anything brain-related, there's a lot of 'nobody knows', and far too much if-you-don't-ask-you-don't-get, lots of us on the forum have spent time tracking down suitable therapeutic resources, after being faced with blank looks from GP's. (Mine spelled 'haemorrhage' wrong on a document a few weeks ago, I don't suppose he's had to write it as many times as I have... small sarcasm-spike, there, I've been awake since just after midnight.)

Contact Headway, too, they're really helpful, and will know of any specific resources in your area that you might be able to 'signpost' your doctor towards. I'm not a very group-y person, and my closest Headway branch is three bus-rides away, but the email support I've had has been brilliant.

You are not alone, many of us have struggled with anger, I would be a liar if I said it 'goes away', we just learn our own ways of managing it. (Or not, sometimes I don't manage to 'catch' myself quickly enough, look for the YouTube video of the angry Irish man who can't find his soup, that's me sometimes.)

Being all bogus-philosophical about it, and saying "Your brain only makes you angry because you allow it to." will probably make you want to punch me, I know I would have wanted to punch anyone who trotted out that line to me. I'm waffling around the edges of the 'spoon theory' that I've never really looked into very much, I use 'stress buckets' instead, reasoning that any of us have a finite capacity for stressors/stimulus before our metaphorical bucket overflows. Allowing safe-venting prevents the bucket overflowing, and stops me from going berserk in Tesco, when the fluorescent lights are hurting my eyes, and somebody decides to walk the WRONG WAY around the shop. I'm not going to suggest how you should vent, because you'll just want to punch me, like I want to punch the well-meaning fools who suggest cake/chocolate/going out with friends/joining a knitting circle. (I'm 41, not 81, and one of my hands doesn't work, it's REALLY hard for me not to snap at people who suggest I join arts and crafts activities...)


Hi Gaia, me again. You mention you are 41 not 81, well im65 now and the clock is ticking for me age wise.

I get all panicky thinking im that old woman of 80 and im only 65 .

When the GP said to me fantastic you survived now go and enjoy the rest of your life! I felt like punching him.

Except you get up every morning wondering what you may be able to achieve today.

So ill keep on chasing that miracle medication that may help me get back to something resembling the old me physically.



My sleep issues mean 'getting up in the morning' sometimes isn't morning at all, but I agree, there's always going to be the "Let's see what we can wring out of today." (Also the "Well, that was a crappy one, perhaps tomorrow will be better.")

I had that first year of trying to do EVERYTHING, then a bit more surgery, and a few life-hiccups. It's taken me far too long to start saying "I can't do that.", or "I find that difficult." My stubborn resilience has done me no favours, and I know I should have pushed harder for help earlier on, because I've effectively burned myself out. I'm awaiting an appointment with the 'Social Prescribing Team', because my GP doesn't know what to do with me, and my Consultant is very much "You survived, what more do you want?" I'm at Neuro-Psychology later this month, and I'm fairly certain they'll have heard the peak/plateau/crash story before.

I'll just keep popping back in here, and asking people to seek help as early as they can, I fear too many of us 'put up and shut up' when we know we're not right in ourselves, I'd rather people learned from my experience, rather than ending up in a similar (grim) situation. I appreciate that some will want to tell me to bog off, I know I would have been incredulous early on, if anyone hinted at the possibility that I might not get all the way 'better'; I'd just rather not see another person washed down the plughole of life, like I have been.


Gaia_rising - love that post!

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Thank you Neverdidmind

Apart from being angry at everything, most of the time, I have a massive bee in my bonnet about the "That might pass in time.", and "It's silly getting angry about little things like that." My poor, long-suffering son quite often says "Have you tried just NOT having brain damage, mother?", he's joking, of course, but I'm very aware that my issues impact on him, whether I'm having an utterly irrational outburst about an email about a stapler (yes, that actually happened, I was 'off on one' about a work-related email, and, in sheer exasperation, he shouted "Mother! Angry! Stop it!" at me.) or having to leave a shop, because if I don't, I will kick the next person who stops dead in front of me.

I 'was' a Learning Mentor before my brain decided to spring a leak, so I 'know' a million and one strategies for anger-management, the trick is catching myself early enough to implement them... easier said than done, sometimes.

Some medics aren't particularly helpful, with the "You survived..." lines, and GPs aren't brain specialists, so tend to start with the 'general' advice, about going for a nice walk, or having a cup of tea. I have been angry at the kettle before now, and it hasn't even done anything to me.

I'll carry on not-punching-people, and reciting my internal mantra of "This is your problem, that person thinks their behaviour is normal." when people slurp tea, or smell funny, or try to touch me. Except the ex, shoving worn socks down the sofa cushions was never normal.


Ask for a referral for some CBT. This will help you talk about these issues and teach you ways to get them under control.


You've not even reached the 12 months stage yet, this means your brain is still repairing itself. I found I went through different me(s) over a three year period, so there's still time to become a person that feels closer to your old self.

As exhaustedwife said it's probably time to seek counseling/CBT to take control of how you're going to continue to develop.

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I'm sorry you're struggling so much Beth. The OCD needs some work, probably between you and a Cognitive therapist. It's your brain's desperate attempt to put your world to rights, and keep it so, by controlling everything in your power.

Anyone who dares to ruffle that neatness/cleanliness (safety) is in for a rough ride, but you know it's extreme and unhealthy for all concerned, especially you as it will drive loved ones away.

You can resolve this. Ask for a referral for CBT ; it'll take a while to come through but will probably save your relationships. In the meantime sit and explain the issue to partner/family and that you're dealing with it. Cat x


Hi Beth sending you a big hug. I empathise, I also don't like mess unless it's my own but there's just me and hubby at home and fortunately he's tidier than I am.

I can't relate to the dirty aspect of things but my OCD or what feels like it is being organised.

I've always been organised and very capable but after my BI, a stroke, I've become even moreso and probably quite irritating!

On a daily basis anything that needs to be done has to be done early in the day. Its only when chores etc are done that I can sit and mentally rest.

If there's any future events or plans coming up they have to be organised and detailed straightaway. I try very hard not to 'grill' my husband for details regarding what he's up to but it's not easy. What's worse is i feel like that even when it's someone else's event that I am part of.

For example my son got married last month and whilst it was a very small affair, It drove me nuts that they seemed blaze about detail and getting things organised. Not that I let them know that. On reflection they did a brilliant job because they also relocated from Ireland to the UK.

Has there been some trigger that you know of that makes you feel this way?

For me I think it's just an extension of how I was before. Moreso now because being organised and having routine helps me tremendously with managing fatigue which can still be an issue at times.

I wish you all the best and agree with the others that speaking with your GP for a referral for CBT might be a good place to start.


Hi Beth, without waffling to much it took me 3 Years to get ‘back to normal’. I believed I was after a year but I wasn’t. If possible, remember you are the only person who has changed, and someone who cannot be exactly the same as you were in the past. Be positive as possible, you will improve over the next year. x

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Have similar probs, ocd was massive issue. Meds is the only thing which works for me.

The aggression may lessen with meds.

Speak to your neuro doc with regards to some form of SSRI

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In the long run it will drain you. I have a similar issue after my head jolted in motor accident. Other people are hard work to deal with and as such I avoid them if possible. The anger can cause people to worry and sometimes it is not possible to know that others are being upset.

Controlling the anger is what makes me feel unwell, it can cause me to become hyper like an adrenaline rush for several days. You will have to re organise your life and make it so you are not in an environment that causes the distress. I found that Diazipan really helps but I use it very sparingly as it is very addictive. It kind of makes me feel normal or usual taking the side effects out of the equasion.

I do not think it is possible to fix it and the personality change is there for ever. I am constantly reminded because I have a pressure feeling at the front of my head all the time. For the migraines I use ZOMIG RAPIDMELT. I am around 14 stone and 5mg is about right for me at that weight. Ask the GP for it, it has worked with 100% success. The biggest issues for me are motivation. Check this out, this link explains the motivation. It's an Australian site. In the UK they do not appear to properly understand the problem. The second and most worst issue is the lack of understanding from others and mostly to do with benefits. They have made my life hell at the DWP and this is almost certainly because they lack understanding.

This type of injury is more common that you think. I know at least two other people who worked on the same building site as me who have the same problem. One person had it before he worked on my site and the second person got the injury on a different site whilst he was working with me.

You know what the anger feels like, if you were to act that anger out, you could kill or harm someone. Its the controlling of it the anger makes it uncomfortable and again other will not understand. Your in for the long run with this, try and get used to it and deal with it rather than keep trying to change it back. It won't go back you will have to live with it but you can do this. I really feel for your situation. My accident happened in 2002 and it took me 3 years to get diagnosed.

This link is helpful and so might be the other parts of this same web address. I sincerely hope you get some comfort for knowing you are not alone and what lies around the corner.

Try and enjoy your life for what it is now.



Hi Beth,

just been reading through the comments having not been on here for ages and can relate to so many things that have been said....

I get really agitated at times when shopping and have often muttered a few choice words under my breath when it's to noisy or busy it just suddenly appears out of nowhere and you start thinking here we go.

It comes on as quick as it goe's off sometimes but I have been diagnosed with partial seizures so could be a combination who really knows!!!!

Even my neurologist has said my personality is a stress one when I have been to him over the last few years. when I explain I just go on rants(my bitch flip switch) and can go up and down with certain people who irritate me or just say it in the wrong tone of voice.

Then other times I can be so calm and must admit my personality was abit like this before and have been known to be blunt,now days even more so because I think I don't have to listen to some crap and moaning that people do specially work collegues....

I can't tolerate moaners and whingers sometimes my tongue has got the better of me but i'm like so what!!! if you don't like it keep out of my way.

I must admit I keep away from a lot of blah blah blah specially at work so will walk away and find a chill out zone because at times it gets to much and my mind just goe's blank and starts going all over the place.

I have a strong personality again something I had before the op so going back to earlier I can upset certain people who can't take the truth there problem not mine.

I can admit and will agree if someone says I've been out of order but its the one's who can't do this who really p@@@ me off...

I am terrible when driving I get a bad case of tourettes every swear word you can think of...lol ...but you should try driving over where I live and you would understand oblivious they are to other drivers ,and driving through the village is worse than the highway I call it village mentality and some need to go back to riding a donkey....:) :) :) :) it would be a lot safer...lol

Those moments when you get a bee in your bonnet, another half a dozen things at the same time sends you gaga forgetting which is top priority then brain freeze!! Suddenly getting that light bulb moment but then don't know which to do first......hiho hiho of my brain goe's......(**,)


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