A year on and I am struggling to cope with the 'ne... - Headway


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A year on and I am struggling to cope with the 'new'person I am married to


I apologise in advance if this sounds like a whinge, I suppose it kind of is. But you are probably the only people who are really going to understand. I live in Australia, so I cannot call headway for help on the phone and we do not have any simliar organisations over here.

My husband had a heart attack a year ago and after 33 minutes without a pulse, suffered a hypoxic brain injury (ABI).

7 weeks in hopsital etc.. months of rehab and a year later he is back at work full time (against advice and not coping with it but will not accept that fact), now has a quick temper, a speech deficite, a bad short term memory, issues with his long term memory, only 80% heart function back, is on 2 lots of antidepressants to deal with his PTSD (from his work before all of this), is on 6 medications for his heart, does not always remember to take his medication and will not let me remind him to, walks out on me a minimum of 2-3 times a week at night because 'I have upset him', is so tired from working that he cannot deal with anything at home or anything vaguely emotional, no longer trusts me financially or any other way, has walked out on my kids (we are a blended family just to make life more difficult...), blames me for everything (and I mean everything) which upsets him or does not go the way he wants it to, and I am in tears typing this as I put my reality into words.

He has just walked out again as I tried to start a conversation regarding the fact that he has still not made apointments to have the medical tests his doctors have been trying to get him to have for the last 2 months. He says he is too busy at work to make time for the phone calls, much less the actual appointments. I have tried putting reminders into his phone and his calendar but he just ignores them. Everyone has pointed out that he spent 6 days in an induced coma and he needs to stay on top of his health to stay out of ICU again, but he is ignoring all of us.

He will be gone for hours when he goes, but if I am not home when he gets home he freaks out and gets so angry with me. The same thing happens if I try to take some time for myself - even just taking the dogs for a quick walk. He is allowed to go out and leave me but I am not allowed out except to go to work ot take the kids to their stuff as he takes it to mean that I am leaving him and will not listen to any reason.

I am living like a tightly wound spring. I watch every word I say for fear that I will upset him and that he will walk out again. But what I know is that he will leave no matter how much I watch myself and no matter how 'good'or careful I think I am being.

I love him but am finally allowing myself to realise that he is not the same person he was before the heart attack, not the same man I married 4 years ago, and never will be again.

I struggle to accept this. I have been told I need to give him 3 years after the ABI for his personality to settle down to what the 'new'person will be.

But I am not sure that I can cope with life like this for the next 2 years. I realise that he must be going through hell too. I know that he is struggling with who he is compared to who he was and that his life is extremely difficult too.

But I cannot cope with continually being put in the position of 'enemy', of watching absolutely everything I say and do, of being blamed for everything, trying to hold down a full time job myself, looking after the 2 kids, one of whom has learning disorders, coping with my mother dying from cancer, my 13 year old dog disintigrating from dementia, running a household, trying to keep our debts to a level that I can pay them myself as my husband will not willing contribute to the household costs now, coping with the despair I feel as I watch him walk out yet again and still trying to put one foot in front of the other.

Yes, I see a counsellor myself but I can only afford to see her once a month.

I am sorry for such a long post and I am open to all and any advice!!!

I hope you are all going much better than I am!

14 Replies

You are facing tough challenges. I myself had a very heavy TBI, and a 2 week coma after the French decided to redesign my skull. I did then suffer seizures. That’s all irrelevant now, BUT it did take me 3yrs to understand I can never be the same person again. It is generally difficult for men to accept that fact and become as positive as they used to be. He needs to deal with that personally, if he ever wants to retain the lovely life he had before his attack. That takes more balls than chopping timber or fighting things or people. Ideally, he could do with some bloke he knows well telling him that fact. Our strength or weakness comes from our brain not our biceps!

Good luck with it, I hope you can get the needed support from somewhere soon.

Cheers x

keg90 in reply to DTBI

Thank you. My husband is ex-army and ex-police, hence the PTSD and I can only hope that one day he realises the truth of what you say about it all - that he needs to face what is going on now and deal with it head on.

Take care

I am very sorry you're having to deal with all of this. Here is the the website for the Australian brain injury organization: braininjuryaustralia.org.au/

Denial was also very strong for me after my brain injury caused by a cardiac event and seizure. It is hard to accept. That said, even though he gets upset from something that is said or done, it is still his choice. Given that it is an instantaneous reaction now, it is not your fault. Him working is definitely not helping him for sure. It adds more stress on top of his brain injury and makes him more likely to be even more reactive than he would be already from the brain injury. My brain injury was such that it disabled me quite a bit where I finally realized l could no longer work my 50-60 hour work weeks. I ended up finding for me I could work about 4 hours per day, 4 days a week. And pretty much didn't do much else in life than that and rest.

It is not your fault. He is angry, confused, and does not know how to get back to normal and doesn't yet realize this is not going to happen that way. Like me, I finally realized I am creating a new normal that doesn't include many of the skills and things I used to be able to do easily and it is frustrating as hell. Accepting the new realities has been a huge challenge for me too.

Please take care of yourself and needs first, as he may not change what he is doing right now for some time, if at all and it sounds like you already realize no matter what you do you can't change his behaviors. Be your own best advocate, which will put you in your best position, so that if and when you decide there is a way to deal with him that you are at your very best. Stay in your power.

keg90 in reply to sca2013

Thank yo for answering. Hearing what you have to say, particularly as you have been through it yourself has really helped. I hugeluy appreciate it and I hope that your journey continues in a postive way for you too.

I know there are the two sides to this issue Keg but yours screams out abuse. If your man is so wound up & exhausted but won't address his health issues then he's trapped himself into what looks like a martyr syndrome.

Wives/mothers come in for all manner of flack as par for the course but your man is overstepping the mark, and using his health as an excuse is tantamount to blackmail.

You work full time whilst attending to domestic affairs, including terminally ill mother, pets...........and pay all household bills ! Time for an ultimatum surely ? Your man needs a clear message that things have to change or you'll need to live separate lives. Sounds harsh I know, but often a wake-up call is the kindest approach.

Where does he go when he leaves ?

keg90 in reply to cat3

Hi Cat,

I do not know where he goes, he will not tell me other than it is somewhere in the bush and I have stopped worrying about it. I figure if he can make the descision to go (and get in his car and drive) then it is his responsbility. He does know that if he is gone more than 24 hours without any contact I will report him as missing with an ABI to the police. So far that has not had to happen.

He saw his psychologist last week and I am hoping she is working towards giving that wake up call as I talk to her regularly about how things are going at home. She tells me that as it has on ly been a year I need to try and give him more time (up to 3 years) so that is what i am trying to do - rightly or wrongly. I feel as though my marriage vows need to stand until the 3 years are up and I can have a look at where we are at. Hopefully things improve a little so that I can do that :)


I personally had a very very bad TBI, but that I do not need to delve into, but I too had some major 'behavioural adjustment' and in some ways, most ways, not positive adjustments. Your husband, if he is a stronger personality and/or a 'pride man' - right now and for the foreseeable future he will be battling inside with this sudden ''weakness'' and lack of control.

He will very likely return to being the man you fell in love with and he will very likely see what you sacrificed for him and you'll be on the receiving end of almost endless praise. Until then, this right now is his lowest point and because he loves you he feels like "less" because of what's happened & he might just lash out because he couldn't envisage himself facing his feelings.

My ex-wife and I separated because of a host of things, but admittedly, my traumatic brain injury and the years that ensued changed my perception of not so much everything around me, but the way I perceive my own world.

Because of this I discovered that I was unhappy. Your husband just needs you more than he let's on and some days he will say things to you or do certain things and you'll be so upset/angry you'll just want to stab him in the face, but at his core he hasn't changed so if you can muster the courage you've already had during his incident - you two will get through this together.

One day when you're grey and old and something health related will probaby happen to you, it's your husband that'll come to your rescue :)

keg90 in reply to Hidden

Thank you. Hearing from those of you who have gone through this yourself is very, very welcome as my husband is not at a point where he can communicate anything like this himself. I hugely appreciate your input :)

hey i too have an abi but im 6 years into my journey as a new person.

i have a very bad short term memory like your husband so if you told him not to talk to you like that, he, like me, wouldnt know what youre talking about.

another reason for his aggression is fear, why cant he remember things. before my abi i worked with people with signs of early dimensia and because the were having good and bad days, they would show signs of aggression. like wise when youre not there, he feels scared and thinks youre going to leave him.

welcome to the family, drop in anytime.

steve x

keg90 in reply to steve55

Thank you Steve :)


Keg90 my heart goes out to you. At the moment I'm sat At home alone as my husband has left me after I snapped yesterday.

I too have been watching every word I say. One day I can say it and he's fine, the next he'll have my head off.

He's in complete denial about his bi and has no insight at all into what's happened he thinks he's back to normal.

I've seen my GP today he says I need specialised counselling, respite and time. My OH is 12 weeks in from burr hole surgery for a chronic bilateral sub arachnoid haemorrhage and acute left sided haemorrhage.

Has he had a full cognitive assessment done by a psychologist? That might help. My OH is on the waiting list for one. I'm hoping when that's been done I'll have the proof I need to show him that this isn't all in my head. I'm not making it up. It's real. He'll then be given the treatment, skills ect to aid in improving things. If after that he doesn't or won't accept that he's changed then I'm afraid if he does come back, he'll be going again and for good. At the end of the day living like this is not good for you or your children and as much as you love him and even though he has a bi you cannot be expected to live like this for the rest of your life. Big hugs xx

keg90 in reply to Hidden

Hi Marie, Thank you for taking the time to respond. I hope knowing that you are not the only one in such a position can help you a little too. I am taking it day by day. He sees a psychologist and a psychatrist and we have the occasional good day with the many bad days. Most of the time I am prepared to give himt he 3 years the specialists are telling me it will take for his personality to 'settle'into what it will be for the future. It is just when there is a run of very bad days that I get desperate - and this time I reached out to all of you (and I am very glad I did). Huge hugs and I hope your OH gets an appointment soon.


I think it's all too late for us. I told him I want a divorce this morning. I've had nearly 2 years of his behaviour getting worse. I can't take it any more. He has made me I'll so I'm putting myself first. If he begins to have insight into how he's changed then maybe we can salvage something but for now I want to be on my own.

I hope you are having a better day xx


I am experiencing a lot of what you have said regarding living with a different person.

My Husband sustained a head injury 8 weeks ago and has become verbally aggressive, zero tolerance, no motivation, minimal short term memory, some long term but then gets confused to who has passed on etc.

He is only loving when sex is involved, it is the only time I feel he is back but who wants to go there when two minutes before he is in your face about nothing.

I walk on egg shells, everything I say or do is wrong and it is my fault for everything that happens.

He also is hard work when trying to get him to take his tablets, he suffers from depression which worries me, he says heart breaking things to me then says he is only joking!

Although he does not leave the house he constantly tells me to leave and that he doesn't want me, he has no empathy and looks through me if I break down in front of him.

I have no advice to give you, I just want you to know I am where you are and cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Am happy to hear how you are doing and talk to you, hope it helps us both to offload it

keep strong


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