Snapping!! : I had my TBI a year and a half ago... - Headway


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I had my TBI a year and a half ago, wife has been absolutely brilliant with me (bless her😘) but I sometimes snap at her for the most stupid things , is there any body that happens to.

30 Replies

This is a fairly common occurrence after head injuries. Speaking as somebody with this a TBI myself, as hard as it may be, it might be useful to just do your best to make a conscious effort to take everything very slowly (in back and forth conversations this can be tricky,) but do your best to catch yourself before you do it. It might be useful to have a chat with her specifically about this and say something along the lines of:

"You know that I love you and never want to hurt/harm you, but as a consequence of my injury, I may suddenly snap at you for no reason. If you catch me doing this, please don't take it personally, remain calm and call me on it. This is only a consequence of my brain injury." Or something like that...

I dunno really, I don't do relationships, but that is my punt at it. Haha. Hopefully those are some useful suggestions.

Thanks for your tips, I am very aware of my "snaps" but as you are aware it's hard to control, my wife is very understanding but I hate myself for it.


Yes..yes..yes.Be gentle on urself as its not ur fault.Its just the tbi n as I say.."the gift that keeps on giving..that u don't want",lol

Good u n ur wife have communication in regards to it,as that is huge.

I found writing stuff down (when I explode) really helped to identify the triggers,as small or large as they r.Ive even learned to take myself out of situations,too avoid the blowups.

Hotspurbloke22 in reply to Hidden

☺ I've taken myself out of the situation a few times, you're right it does work. Thanks

Dear Hotspurbloke22,

I'll 'bet' that you, think to yourself, 'Why On Earth, did I just SNAP, at her....She only asked me to Move Over/ Pass The Remote/ Answer The Phone. What's Wrong with me?' Did you almost Throw, the tea at her- just because it was Cold, or Too Sweet? How loud did you shout, at her, for Very Slightly Burning that toast? What Exactly did you 'Say', that time she forgot to Fill the car? (Nothing on the time that, she got, the 'Wrong' Newspaper I'll wager.)

I'm sure that ALL, of this, is Ringing 'Way Too Many Bells' my friend..... In answer to, your question, YES this is Very Common following a Brain Injury. Think of it like this... Before your Injury, you had a- sort of- 'Built In Regulator', cold tea, warm beer, lukewarm bath water, burnt toast, runny eggs and so on Didn't 'Bother you'.... It's all part of life. Now, at least until you- begin to- Understand your Injury and what it has 'Done' to you, Small 'Things' become 'Blown Out Of all Proportion'.

Does it Matter if she Poaches, the eggs? Well Yes, to YOU it does- especially if you were expecting them Scrambled. It's the Unexpected, the 'Changes' to a routine... it IS Difficult, to explain, to anyone who has NOT had a Brain Injury. However this is what you 'must' do Hotspurbloke22, I'm sorry but you Have To 'Find' the time to explain this. At a suitable time, perhaps after a Good Meal- once You have loaded the Dishwasher And 'made' the coffee, simply say- something like- 'Darling (Sweetheart, My Love, Dearest... whatever you would normally say) I need to Talk, to you, quite seriously. Give her a kiss and maybe put your arm around her, before you 'Try' to explain your Outbursts. Tell her that you are Sorry, if you Hurt her- it was NEVER your intent. Explain that it IS ALL 'Part' of a Brain Injury but that you, really will, try NOT to 'Snap' as much..... but can/ will she be patient?

If, as I Very Strongly Suspect, your Wife just Smiles and kisses you back, before saying, "Oh you Great Big 'Lump' you Commere", or words to that effect, before Planting an even Greater Kiss, on your forehead, then I think you have a Very 'Loving' Wife! Cherish her, my friend, buy her Flowers/ Chocolates and When you Can- Covid withstanding- take her out for a Lovely Meal.

With Love, Patience (In Spades), Support and, above all, TIME you will, I'm sure, Rebuild your Life Together. Cherish her Hotspurbloke22, I'm certain that she- really does- love you.... and you her.

Sending you both my Love, and Prayers


stepclass123 in reply to AndrewT

I hope I can even have this experience with my partner we have such a long journey he’s been in hospital for the last 10 months and coming home I hope this helps him with his recovery to get into a state where he can recognise and follow some instructions. He has a great swallow after the strokes with meningitis but they want him to be more aware. It’s a slow process just wish I could see him ☹️

I feel for you , we were very lucky when I was in hospital as there wasn't any covid 19 then!! If you try to think that you are not adding to his health issues may be a way of looking at the "not seeing him"All the best 🙂

I guess yes your right but the poor man has had this during in hospital at George’s and was very highly neglected it was lucky I saw it and went quite high up to support him because I could t go in it’s been tough I know they say they r protecting the patients but to be fair they have different staff on all the time this Covid is a joke and my liking for it and view is so heavy on it.

The whole World are dealing with the situation so wrong 😑

I think lashing out can happen after any trauma, let alone a TBI. I've certainly done my share in the past, and I don't have a TBI.

To try and get to the bottom of why the outbursts occur, a visit to a counsellor might help. Additionally or alternatively, have you thought about/tried meditation and, particularly, mindfulness?

If you have not and you're interested, there's some good resources available including helpful meditation CDs to help re-focus on the "now". It also helps train the mind to notice the presence of anger/frustration without acting on it.

I think mindfulness meditation is fascinating; it's a learned skill and, with practice, I think it works. Well, it did for me concerning a number of issues.

Books: Start with "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle.

CDs: Have a look at "Resist Nothing" by Kim Eng at

Practising mindfulness may also help your wife to cope with seemingly inexplicable outbursts that can hurt both of you.

Whether you've been down the meditation route or not, try not to punish yourself with guilt and sadness, which can only make things worse for both you and your wife. Better I think to try something more practical to change your approach to dealing with what might be a physical condition causing a chemical imbalance in the brain, or stress (which also causes an imbalance).

At the very least, think about having a word with your GP if you haven't already, perhaps seeking a referral to psychological well-being services.

Good luck with finding a way forward that works for you (and your wife!).

As we say down here "the hotter the fire, the bigger the sparks!"

My wife and I have been together for 44 years and used to argue and snap at each other before our head injuries, know it is much more.

It is all short lived and after a few hours of silence, everything gets back to normal.

Sometimes that's just the way it is

Hey there Hotspurbloke22 I can say that I definitely used to do that within a few years of my TBI. I became (and still am) sensitive to noise so used to get really angry with my husband (who also was amazing) and shout and get really angry in a flare up and then I would stop and get upset. I did this for probably four years after my TBI - although only occasionally, and it got rarer and rarer until now, 12 years later, when I can't remember the last time that I did. So I can vouch for the fact that it improves - or at least it did for me X

Noise sensitivity, especially when quite 'extreme', is, I am sure difficult to deal with for those living with someone who has it.

I 'got away with it' after previous surgeries, but this time, it seems as if it's payback time for all of my good fortune in the past.

'Artificial' sound (TV, radio, computer, sirens, construction noise, domestic appliances) are things I find very difficult/ intolerable, depending on the day.

Trying to understand that someone wants to unwind in front of the idiot box, after being at work all day is very problematic. I understand their need, but, at the same time, it is genuinely difficult for me to cope with, meaning I have to withdraw elsewhere for my own silent methods of escapism.

My main issues are around spontaneous, un-announced noise.( Tell me ten minutes before you plan to get the vacuum cleaner out and I will go for a pointless walk etc.)

I have rather bulky but effective noise cancelling headphones. No good for sleeping in, but useful if the local ne'erdowells decide to bellow to each other, or race up and down the street in their noisy noddy tricycle.

I do what I can to help myself and lessen the impact of noise, but suffering in anything but silence is sometimes the only option, especially if treading on eggshells and not wanting to cause a disagreement.

Like many things, unless you are affected by noise, it is hard to imagine its impact, I suppose.

Some damaged brains have less restraint than before. Been there - done that.

What do you mean "been there done that " ??

I would snap too. And still do more than before.

Very helpful (NOT)

One of the things about opening up for input from others, is that it offers the opportunity for a different perspective on things. That perspective may, or may not offer anything that you feel can help you move forward, but it will almost certainly have been given in good faith. Please bear this in mind and, as I and I suspect many others do, if a contribution doesn't offer you anything, simply think that, rather than commenting in a way that might be seen as confrontational...There's more than enough of that in this dysfunctional world already.

I concur, Froggiefrog 🌸

Hi, I'm sure you understand that brain injury can effect people in a vast amount of different ways, in sashaming1 comment I didn't find helpful at all ,It was a nothing comment ,why comment on an issue that your not interested in!! Which is what I felt,All the best

I have literally only just had a conversation with my psychologist about this, she suggested having a word you use if your feeling highly irritable and close to snapping with will indicate this to your wife how you are feeling, I haven’t tried this yet, but give it a go see how it works?!

Hi Hotspurbloke, ok - I live alone, and I don't think my TBI has triggered the irritability that some people's injuries do - except I have noticed that I haven't had so much patience with my mother since the injury - whether this is because I have more worries of my own now, my inner impulse monitor doesn't function terribly well ( or I'm more irritable than I thought after all) I don't know. It makes me feel bad too. However, it does seem to happen when I'm getting more tired. So apart from apologising in advance as others have suggested here, I would also be inclined to try to have a look at your fatigue management strategies (perhaps with your wife, as people around me notice I'm getting fatigued before I do) if you can then pinpoint when you are more bad-tempered, perhaps that's the point to set alarms to have a regular break in advance (no reading, tv, radio etc - eyes shut, flat on the floor, with or without a mindfulness recording for 10 -30 minutes works for me).

But by having that discussion with your wife and trying to do something practical about it with her help - would do more to demonstrate to her that you know it's hurtful, and that you want to stop snapping at her, than any amount of soft soap would (but make sure you do all the nice things too! 😊)

If there's an impulsive element to it, it would be helpful to be aware of that tendency also, and I think someone here mentioned mindfulness ? The MBSR courses are quite often online now, and are very useful - plus they're credited with improving neuroplasticity - so a win win...

Just an idea anyway - and I do hope you can develop some good strategies to manage this, before it is a habit. Noticing a problem is the first step to solving it. In the past, I've watched my grandfather and father become bad tempered with chronic illness when chairbound - and though it might've helped them to cope, it's jolly hard on the spouse who bears the brunt of it.

I think temper/ being angry or irritable, is probably a reasonable response to suddenly having a chronic or life limiting condition, even if you are unaware of being angry - and it's slso probably easiest to fire off at your nearest and dearest. But a safer route would be to seek out a helpful psychologist with knowledge of brain injury and see if they can help with anger and depression - and grief too, frankly, we're of an age when we could have reasonably been expecting life to get a lot easier - not harder! My neuropsychologist has been brilliant with good strategies for handling fatigue too.

Good luck 😊 and let us know what you come up with!

Jen x

( PS Is Hotspur after the team or the comic?)

Hi Jen, thanks for the info and tips, but first things first Hotspur is my favorite football team ☺(Tottenham). I do believe your right about your nearest and dearest being the main target (sad to say) I'm getting more understanding day by day and as you say knowing that you have snapped is a good part of the learning!! Thanks Jen.

Hope it all goes well - and always good to support Spurs 👍 (speaking as an ex North Londoner 😊)

My husband 9th month with TBI, brain injury clinical psychologists visits us at home and this week had safe conversation on triggers. We agreed this week on main trigger and have a strategy written down, basically if same topic with snapping, skip past the ugly and get to the end, as you both know whats going to happen. Were only 2 days trying this method, but makes sense. Again were in early stage but trying to expose issues impacting so we can understand for long term managing techiques.

Although, we both feel overwhelmed with changes and both accepting were adjusting, im willing to take on all the issues straight on which i know now will take 2-3years to balance.

I dont have no answers, but there must be atleast 1 trigger you both can agree with and have an sort action plan what to do, it could just be a code word you both think is funny to reduce the confrontation. We have that in place when accessing the community so i just say code instead of stating behaviour. Everyone is different we have 2 young kids in our mix and we have dreams and plans i wish to keep too and get near in the next 5yrs. I love my husband more than anything and i will guide and support him to manage best to mine and his capabilites whilst we have this professional input.

Hi Hotspurbloke22,yup, I had my accident over 22 years ago and I've lost just about everyone. I married my wife in 2016 so she only knows 'After accident Phil'. She tends to forget that my crankiness is due to my brain damage. I don't like being cranky, snappy & grouchy but it seems to be how I am now. I've lost my 'filter' so I engage gob before brain. I do try not to but the more tired or stressed I get the worse it is. Keep battling.

I am on the receiving end of my husband’s nastiness

I have tried to accept that it is his head injury but ...

Its only me he is lovely with everyone else ... he can control his temper with other people but is verbally very hostile to me and I am fed up with it ...

Hi Katie, it's not nice to hear about your husband's verbal abuse, just that my wife was going thru the same sort of thing ,she is a retired practice nurse and perhaps knows how to handle me. She sat me down and explained what effects my "snapping at her"had on her, have you tried that on him? He like myself have to realize there actions. Hope this helps

Hi Long Name22

I’m always wound up with my TBI. I’ve managed to work round to try and be the way I was before the RTA where I was chilled and any argument I’d be calm.

The health tablets Calms helped a lot over the first stages that I still have but not as often. now I’ve understood how the pain grabs me making temper bad, and other triggers, TV on and talking, two or more talking at onceI, makes my head want to explode. Thinking to much makes my head hurt and get wound up because I can’t do what I used to do, and in that situation I stay away. I record everything on TV and watch back any time when alone so I can rewind the bits my head can’t keep up with, someone going on endlessly that stops me thinking at all.

You have to be in a place where you no longer care what anyone says. This helps a lot because people are annoying. Put duct tape of your misses mouth to see how long it take you to stop laughing and getting wound up with all the silence.

As well check your medication, lots make temper worse.

I walk away now If wound up and bite me tongue even if you know your right, just no point stressing.

Jot down your triggers to bad temper.

Hi Symoundo, thanks for the information, a few I could try (apart from the duct tape ,I think the wife has gone thru enough ) I have tried one or two of your methods, working quite well 🙂

No worries, glad somethings helping. I’ll try think of other things for you. Kinda blank at the mo. I know I can have 6 hours normality in a day before my temper starts, so I clear out of the way. Makes life easier. I only get 6 hours because pain and brain starts to shut down and memory getting worse than it already is. It seems to work. Kalms I’ve recommended a few times now they should be sending me freebies.🤔

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