Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi, Carolyn: About two years ago my husband was in a bad accident, no fault of his own, and while his physical injuries have mostly healed, he suffered a head injury and his personality has changed. He was once so even-keeled and sweet, and now he’s volatile and moody. He’s never been violent or abusive, but he sulks, withdraws, and snaps quickly. He’ll give me and our two elementary-school-age kids the silent treatment over the most minor incidents.
He’s knows he’s different and he’s trying hard (with therapy) to get back to what he was, but honestly I don’t know. One year I could take, but it’s not good for the kids, we are all stressed, and he may never get back.
Financially I could leave without a lot of problems. I don’t want to leave my old husband, but I don’t think I would have married this one. My kids miss their old father as well, but are so tentative around him now.
I know it hurts him too; he doesn’t want to be like this. I don’t even know how to frame this decision. Help?
Recovering but Not Recovered
I’m sorry you’re all going through this. It’s heartbreaking.
Now that the understanding of the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) has advanced so much in recent years, there has been a needed expansion in support offerings, including for families. If he’s the only one getting professional help for this then you’re leaving half of your options on the table. Find a reputable, local organization that works with TBI issues and call to see what kind of family support and counseling it offers.
Re: Recovering: The Department of Veterans Affairs knows a thing or two about traumatic brain injury and its effects on family. You’re probably not military, but your local VA office may have referrals for trained therapists and counselors who are not part of the VA system.
Re: Recovering: I have a friend who suffered a severe TBI. It took several years, but she is FULLY recovered. It’s hard on the kids to see moodiness and bad behavior but please don’t give up. I always assumed my friend would return, and she DID! She did. Hang in there.
Re: Recovering: Unfortunately, the belief that EVERY patient can recover (if you want it enough and if your doctors are good enough) is sadly erroneous. I wish it were true, but medical science is just not there yet. I don’t like the pressure society can put on patients these days to “maintain a positive outlook” to the point where it almost sounds like we’re blaming them if they don’t recover.
Re: Recovering: My mom was in a car accident when I was 16. I’m currently in my 30s. Just wanted to say it does get better. There were a lot of chaotic years in there but we all stuck together and it got better. My mom still isn’t “her,” but there are longer stretches of time where she is and where things are more normal. It takes time to develop a new normal.
Thanks, everybody. Mileage obviously varies, so getting the family – especially the kids – some professional guidance is paramount.
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