Meningitis Now
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Change of personality

Hi everyone. i am just wondering what anyone can tell me about changes they have encountered after viral meningitis. It has been 8 1/2 months since I had VM. 9 days in hospital and then 4 1/2 months before returning to work gradually. At 6 months I was back to work full time. I suffered from depression til about a month ago. Still suffering from some short term memory issues. What i am noticing is my change in personality. Like i am a different person than i was. Not a people person like i was. Not a happy person like i was. not a patient and tolerant person like i was. Is anyone else going thru this??

26 Replies

Hi Littledove,

I had BM & S in May 2011 and like you I have experienced changes in my personality as you described. Because of the changes in the way I am now it has caused tensions in friendships because it has changed the relationship. I will attempt to explain a little - with my best friend she was always the more outspoken and outgoing one whereas I was more agreeable and easy going. Whereas now I easily become irritable and no longer 'just let things go' but will express my disagreement or intolerance. Our friendship jigsaw puzzle pieces don't fit together so well anymore! I have also suffered from depression. I do not like the person I have become and have become socially isolated as feel I don't 'fit' anymore with the world outside my home. You are not alone with what you are going through as I know there are others on here who have experienced similar difficulties.


Thanks for responding. You described it perfectly. Would rather be socially isolated than mingle with others. Wonder if we ever get our old selves back?


I keep hoping but am not sure it will for me now. Think maybe new friendships will have to be developed which will slot together with this different me. Trouble is I don't socialise to be able to find those people.


My kids tell me I'm

Different since VM I'm forgetful but also on the goofy side - more than usual. I don't know what to do about it either. I don't cry very easily like I used to either. Sometimes I'm numb.

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How long ago did you have your viral meningitis?


Morning little dove

I am 5 yrs post vm,

I hadnt thought about my personality changing until my husband said I wasn't the person he had married.... This floored me, I had changed but hadn't realised it At tge time as i was just concentrating on getting better.....

I do seem emotionally detached, like in my own vacant world at times...

Was a bubbly person where I'm not so much anymore but I'm better than I was..... I Do laugh now where that wasn't on the agenda for a good while.... I suffered with chronic headaches, dizziness & pressure for 3 yrs..... After that subsided it began to


Thanks for responding. Glad to hear it isnt my imagination. i just dont seem to be the same person and I am the one noticing as i am the one feeling it! Happy New Year


yes I have/had all the above.I was always very calm when carrying out a task. I now find I get very frustrated. I am learning to live with it but it can be very hard and at time frightening.


Sorry for the slightly late response here but I really hope my reply might still be of some help. I had acute Viral Meningoencephalitis in August 2011and was in isolation for 12 days.

Oddly enough, we all believe that one day we'll wake up from this post nightmare illness and it'll be the 1st day of being well and back to normal again - whatever normal was in the first place :)

I got the shock of my life when my neurologist looked me straight in the eye last summer and said: 'You do know that you're not going back to the person you were before August 2011, don't you?'

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather. 'Yes', I said . . . 'I thought I would eventually one day or next month, well OK maybe not till next year that I would eventually recover completely'.

You see that's what no one tells us little dove. I don't want to sound negative here because this is a great social site and everyone is amazingly encouraging and offering wonderful suggestions but the truth is we've all had a very serious illness that has attacked our brains (to greater or lesser degrees) and we have to understand that there are some parts of the body that simply don't heal completely after being attacked by such a violent virus.

Have you contacted Meningitis Now? They are a wonderful organisation and have been so kind to me. I've had a course of Craniosacral therapy, which has been so helpful. I've also had Neuro-physio (not through Meningitis Now), as I lost my balance after my illness and couldn't negotiate stairs, escalators or even slopes.

I still get word loss (so embarrassing), tinnitus and I've become introverted and quite anti-social. I don't like noisy, crowded places and I get tired easily, which doesn't help my social life much :).

I've slowly learnt to listen to my body and 'pace myself'; when I feel tired I know I have to rest or take a nap. To re-define myself is much harder - that's still 'a work in progress' :) and I've had to learn to be patient and to forgive myself. I'm a doer not a person to sit about and have others do stuff for me but I've had to learn that as well. My husband has been my rock and so understanding, bless him.

You'll find a way through this little dove that will work for you and yes, it will have changed you - Meningitis in whichever form it takes us changes all of us.

I'm very impressed that you're back to work, well done. How is your concentration? Do you get tired more quickly? I hope your HR people at work are aware of what you've been through and will support you. Look after yourself and keep well - post meningitis sufferers tend to be prone to picking up infections more readily i.e. colds, sore throats, winter flu' etc. although, you should be eligible for the winter flu jab. Anyway, this is a great 'sounding board' site but do get in touch with Meningitis Now if you need someone to talk to on a one-to-one. My very best wishes for 2015, XO


Thank you so much for your reply Covenham. it is good to know others experiences. My neurologist actually had me going back to work in one week after coming home from the hospital. i cldnt even stay awake or think or drive yet. i now know what they talk about when they say very few people know about vm in our MD world. my ins. company at work declined me for ltd as their medical book states 42 days and u shld be back to work. i have appealed this and my doctor who saw me every 2 weeks for 6 months has helped me with thst appeal. i just found out insurance accepted my claim. so obviouly not many know the seriousness of vm. i wish you well in 2015.


Hi little dove, it's been a year since I had meningitis and I am still dealing with the changes it has made to my life. Personality, mood swings and feeling very low are just to name a few. The trouble with meningitis is that you can't see it, after your initial stay in hospital people around you think that you are better but deep down it is just the start. My advice is to keep telling those around you how you are feeling. The true friends will stick by you know matter what. Remember to listen to yourself, it is ok to have bad days it just apart of your recovery.


thanks for sharing. great advice


I can SO understand what everyone is saying.It feels like everyone is describing me to a "T". I feel a lot of what others are describing. I am 2.5 months post bacterial meningitis, and have constant headaches daily. I don't agree people anymore. About the memory loss, I feel stupid at times. I feel like getting my cat, parking my car on the train tracks, and seeing what happens. This new "me" sucks and I hate it. It's bad enough that I'm mourning the passing of my dad, but I am also mourning, Me. I don't have a job, or get disability (yet). My doctor won't see me like she should due to the high cost of office visits, as I don't have insurance. I don't have any money. i just don't me. Along with having my numerous health issues, a dark corner would suit me just fine. But I wish everyone on here future new health and a brighter New Year.


Reply hang in there. yes vm and bm change us and we must must must be good to ourselves. it wasnt a minnor illness like so many think. And you are only 2 1/2 months post. be easy on urself. rest lots. be kind to urself. And take it one day at a time. i was depressed for about 6 months. it is slowly getting better. its hard to say but losing ur father at a time like this makes it hard to know what is really going on. Grièving is a big job. There may be some bereavement groups in your area that you could attend. And always rely on Meningitis Now for support. You csn do this Roxanne. you are not alone.


Hi littledove. I am 2 1/2 yrs post vm. Physically I feel I'm finally back to my old self. However, I don't feel like myself in other ways. I am definitely a different person. At first I thought it was all in my head but my kids and my husband noticed it too. I'm easily frustrated and my concentration is no where what it used to be. I was an elementary school teacher and have not been able to returned to work since vm. Patience and being able to multitask are a must for the job. I can't handle more than one person talking at a time or loud tv/radio because I feel myself getting frustrated and anxious. I have short term memory issues and that in itself is frustrating. I was an extremely organized person and was known for being an overachiever/perfectionist. Now I'm this person who cries easily and feels overwhelmed most of the time. At times I feel like such a failure. I know I'm very fortunate to have recovered the way I have and I don't want to sound selfish or ungrateful so I never talk about how I feel with anyone. At least not till now.


I am so glad you got in touch. It is such a relief to know we arent freaks..we arent crazy and that many of us suffer with personality changes. i cry easily also and less patience and tolerance. too much action and commotion is not good for me either. you are not a failure. we are not failures. we have suffered from a condition that few understand including most doctors. and friendd, coworkers and family only see the physical self however we can support each other on line and we need to know we arent alone. i wld love to chat with you anytime. have you spoken to the Meningitis Now support line? its an option. i wish you well Missy2012. I always call my daughter missy and she is an adult now. reach out like i did on here and it helps so much knowing others suffer some of the same thinngs. it id like there id an empty hole inside me..a low grade depression..most of the time and i just keep moving along.


Ditto the other comments and thank you for expressing what is going on so beautifully well. It is revelatory when I am reading what has been pinging round my head and not understood by friends or family...!


I had BM in 2011, September. I'm still dealing with migraines most days, low energy, low mood, and shame that I'm not who I used to be. I too was highly organized and had a middle management position. Now, I have trouble keeping the house up. It is not easy to be on this side of the disease. I wish things were different. But, they are what they are.


From what i know (and it is little) bm is worse than vm and you must be grateful to be alive. we may never be the same again but in the long run maybe we are going to be better than we were. we hotta learn to accept and love us for what we can do today and who we are today

take care


Hi Littledove, and sorry for the late reply. Time management isn't one of my key strengths anymore, though you’d had some truly soulful responses to your post, so if I’m out of time, you’ve got great comfort already I hope :-)

Our other friends here have summed up so much of what the ‘new’ us are like, it wouldn’t be beneficial to re-cap or to repeat it all. It’s all correct and applicable, to me too, with some variances here and there to map to our own idioms.

I’ve been handling VM issues on and off for 3 years and it’s not that I’ve found it gets better. As maineknitter says, it kinda is what it is. But for myself I’m still finding new and surprising ways in which I’m not the same person anymore, which itself is something to hang on to. Some of them are things I’d not thought about much before, or at least for a long time. (For example, I’d forgotten till recently that I used to get a bunch of Christmas and Birthday cards, but this year, it’s slim pickings.) My circle of friends has dwindled as StrawberryCream’s jigsaw thoughts have mapped out at this end too.

Aside from the brain function side of things (meaning the memory, headaches and the like), my mental wellbeing has taken a profound hammering, and getting social isn’t very easy (I’m susceptible to the chicken pox virus so am cautious where and who I hang out with). A common theme hey. So you’re right, we’re not alone, and our old selves ain't coming back. But…

To heck with that I say. Each day is a wonderful chance for a new start and to celebrate another day post-bugs! I know it’s not a fan-fare for many when I shave, get dressed and make a cuppa in the morning, but I can hear bugles playing at the self-achievement. I’m thankful too that I can now enjoy the little things that I missed so much before, like what the underside of my cooker looks like (I got a close up of it on Boxing Day as I had a ‘spell’ on the floor before my good lady found me and put me to bed). But I’m creating a micro-ecosystem under there without even trying, and bugs (non VM/BM ones) need a break too, right! And I'm not even trying. Bonus!

Seriously, some days I do morn the old Justin, but there is only forward and here’s some stuff I’ve found out that makes that the only way I want to go:

-I know who my 2 a.m. friends are now very clearly, and have saved a bunch of time that I was wasting on the ‘fair-weather’ variety. They did soak up more time/energy than I had thought and though I’ve less time now overall, I’m spending it really well. Jerome K Jerome had it right (if you need two hands to count your true friends, that’s one hand too many).

-The brain/body filter having essentially gone means my senses are really heightened. So I get more regular pain than I did before, but, massages and overall body contact is delightful. Kissing has become what the romantics always said it was.

-Crying is a great release. As a man (even a very emotional one), it wasn’t so easy to let go before. Well, that’s not a problem now. I just need to make sure it’s over the right things, or I look a bit dumb. And at Sainsbury's adverts is just embarrasing.

-I value every day. I always wondered what it would be like to go to bed each day thinking if I didn’t get up, how would the karmic balance look? It looks good, and is getting better daily :-)

-I’m fighting to keep my driving license (but I hear walking is good for you), my job (it sucks anyway), and my house (okay, that would be a bummer I'd struggle to see the bright side of for a while). Still, isn't everyone in their own ways fighting to keep something that their life could exist without, so I'm not alone there either. It's just if and how I 'worry' that matters, the substance isn't relevant.

-I find something new out about myself most weeks, and get to make friends with myself anew each day. And though I could be a better guy, I’m better company than the ‘fair-weather’ friends I used to have, and I’m my own 2 a.m. friend too. Which is handy as I'm up often at that time and could do with a (semi-reliable) buddy on my own wave-length. Get in!

-I’m finding new ways to handle being intolerant and impatient. They kinda hurt to acquire but feel good too when they work out well.

-I’ve met new friends here that truly understand me, and know what I’m going through. We may not all laugh together often, but I’m sure we can if we have faith.

So, good riddens to the old me I say. He was a good guy, though took things for granted, worked too hard and was pretty stressed most of the time. Sometimes so stressed, he had similar brain-function symptoms as post-men without the excuse for them.

Not so the new me. I’ve good reason to be a grouch now and again (though not to be indulgent about it), and at the other extreme, can cry over the sight of my boys sleeping so profoundly I've never feel so alive. And I’m lucky compared to so many others. That gives me confidence that the future is good, and I’m keen to see what tomorrow brings, challenges and all, and to meet myself again.

Not sure if this helps, but yes, I'm going through it too, but it darn well ain’t going to get the better of me. We’re strong right, and stronger together. Here’s to the new us, every day, and 2015 bring it on. We’re ready for you, if a little impatient it has taken so long to get here :-) And remember how beautiful you are. We've not met of course, but you are. Only beautiful people would care if they saw these developments. At least that's not changed right? X 


Wow!!! In depth explanation and you are right. We are on the right side of the ground and maybe for so many years of our life we people pleased and stuffed feelings. perhaps this is who we are meany to be and God needed to wake us up. all the bes in 2015! xo

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Hi Littledove. You know what, that’s exactly what I think it happening. It speaks deeply to my beliefs on pain (not in a masochistic way) and spirituality, and the limitations of omniscience without physical exploration of experience. There’s a fab book by the Dalai Lama I never finished about that you’ve just encouraged me to get off the shelf again. Thank You! I've been in need of literature direction for a few months. Bonus! :-) X


Thank you everyone for your comments and perspectives on life after meningitis. I've been in tears here reading & empathising with each one. I had viral meningitis six months ago & if anything i feel worse now than I've ever done. The doctor calls my symptoms now post viral chronic fatigue. I too am much more short tempered than I ever was & much more emotional. I wonder when if ever I will get back to my job as a primary school teacher of 5&6 year olds. I do worry I won't be able to cope with it but I'll just have to cross that bridge when I get to it for now it's resting & trying to improve.

It's so true I've found out who my real friends are through this. My friendship group has lessened but my real friends (fewer than I thought) have stuck by me & care.

Wishing & praying for a happier & healthier 2015 to you all



Be good to yourself. Rest and one day at a time. It will change.

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Hi Juanita. If it’s any comfort my own GP and those medics I trust are labelling my situation now as best understood as CFS, and I think there’s much to be said for it, for me. I plan to do some more reading into it but have a friend with the condition and he and I are becoming firm 2 a.m. buddies. By clearing your life of those folk who purported to be real friends, maybe you can have chance to find some of these too :-)

Be kind to yourself and if ever in doubt, I know siobahn would know where to direct you, which I’ll do on her behalf (

Time and well-honed resting will bless you on the road to recovery, and hopefully we can help each other when we stumble. Things often do seem at their worst just before they turn around too I figure, and you have my wishes and prayers for a wonderful 2015 too. Slowly, slowly though. Littledove is right; today is just one day.

Mine will end in a bath tonight and a massive mug of hot chocolate. With my list of vices dwindling, I’m going all out to enjoy the 'pros' of the new me. Eventually I’ll bath in hot chocolate when I’ve nothing else left. Today is just training for that joyful day!

Be well, and let those emotions go. It’s kinda wild but I’m sure it has to help to let the heart run free. X


Aweskme stuff Justinp. Often we are sk hard on ourselves. That bath with hot chocolate or tea sounds heavenly. Enjoy


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