Coping When Someone You Love Suffers a Brain Injury

Brain injury survivors have a very tough road to recovery, and so do the people that love them. If someone you love has suffered a brain injury, especially someone you are very close to such as a spouse or significant other, the feeling of loss and isolation that you experience can be as overwhelming as if they had died. But instead of taking time to mourn and rebuild your life, you are now acting as a brain injury caregiver, unable to share your burden with the partner who used to be your sounding board and ally. It is terrifying, tiring, and very lonely.

Knowing What to Expect Can Help

No doctor can accurately predict how brain injuries will affect a patient. TBI survivors and their loved ones are often blindsided by symptoms and changes that no one warned them about. Your loved one may not experience all of the possible symptoms or a symptom may come on suddenly weeks or months after injury.

  • Personality changes
  • Subtle or severe problems with communication
  • Memory problems
  • Unexplained outbursts of anger
  • Unexplained sadness
  • Inappropriate behavior in front of others
  • Substance abuse
  • Withdrawal
  • Seizures

Changes in your relationship dynamics can include:

  • Shifting responsibilities
  • A shift in relationship roles
  • Loss of or increased need for closeness and intimacy

Taking Care of Yourself is Imperative

Brain injury caregivers often feel that they don’t have time to take care of themselves or that taking the time to do so is selfish. The truth is, it is an essential part of doing your best as a caregiver. Taking care of someone with TBI can be both physically and emotionally exhausting. And, it requires patience. Letting your own health fail will ultimately be harmful to your loved one.

Make sure you are eating a healthy diet, getting adequate rest, and getting the emotional support that you need. Consider joining a support group or talking to a therapist. If you cannot attend meetings in person, you can find groups and therapists online. You are not alone.

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