Emotional changes

My girlfriend (now apparently ex-girlfriend) is two weeks post-op for an unruptured aneurysm. We spent a long time preparing for the procedure together and at first after the surgery everything seemed to be going in the right direction. I knew about the emotional impact, but the reality exceeded my expectations.

My question is - can there be so significant changes in the emotional area? She consistently repeats that:

  • she was very close to death
  • She’s had a reboot.
  • She’s been given a second chance at life.
  • Now she wants to live purely, without lies, and everything that is not pure must go. Including me.

What’s the right course of action? I suspect she’s suffering from anxiety, maybe even depression. Is it advisable to stay, or is it better to give up? I’ve heard a lot of insults from her and I’m looking for the strength to keep communicating with her. I don’t want to leave her to her fate.


Hey Charles,
Welcome to Ben’s Friends

MOST DEFINITELY!!! That is: there were HUGE changes for me too.

I was up, I was down, I was sideways. Ohh, it was messy. I have often said ‘I don’t know how my wife put up with me’. In my mind I didn’t have a problem, it was everybody else who had the damn problem. I was trying to manage me, both the physical ‘Me’ and the emotional ‘Me’ (and I wasn’t doing it very well). I was exhausted and I took it out on those around me. I wasn’t doing it with intent, but I had nowhere to put my angst, my frustration and it came out of me in a destructive way.

I say ‘…both the physical ‘Me’ and the emotional ‘Me’…’ Physically, my normal limits/tolerance had all changed. Before all of this I had 2 speeds, full tilt and stopped. Post surgery even getting to 1/2 my normal pace was a challenge. I had to carefully plan my tasks, this was all very foreign and it annoyed me. I wanted the ‘Old Me’ back. Emotionally, I had a ‘hair trigger’. If someone said the wrong thing, BOOM, and I’d explode. Afterwards I’d often feel SO VERY guilty for my outburst. It wasn’t the person, it wasn’t what they’d done. It was me, but I had nowhere to put my angst and it would come raging out of me.

2weeks post op is still VERY early on in her recovery. The whole process of neurosurgery from the initial diagnosis, to the operation itself, all the way through recovery (how ever long that takes) is unlike any other medical procedure. The external wound may heal up extremely well over those 2 weeks, but with the brain itself, that can take much longer to settle.

I’m sorry to say but those are questions none of us can answer. It is an assessment only you can make. Personally, I do not believe giving up is the answer but by the same accord giving her space and options to be able to work through her anxiety/depression could be beneficial. Neurosurgery is a shock to the whole system and it can make us re-assess ‘life’, but to be making such assessments so soon after major surgery can lead to rash decisions, often clouded by pain and/or medications.

I do not personally know you. I do not know your partner, nor your personal circumstances and they all need to be taken into serious consideration before making a decision, but time can be a great healer both physically and emotionally.

Merl from the Modsupport Team


Thank you very much for your reply. I like her, a lot. I believed that we would get through this period together, and suddenly it’s over. No sign of her, nothing. Like a bolt from the blue…

I have one more question - what kind of psychic development can be expected? How long has it been getting worse and when can we expect a turnaround and improvement?

She is like a small child now - she can only distinguish two categories for example - truth and falsehood. She cannot move in the categories “my opinion”, “your opinion”. In short, what she says and lives now is pure truth, everything that does not match it is simply a lie. Emotionally she is completely flat, she has lost the capacity for empathy.

Even otherwise her behaviour is extreme, she feels like she is constantly dirty from her surgery and hospital stay, she showers five times a day. She buys jewelry, supposedly to make herself feel human. And she constantly repeats that she’s been living a lie and a scam and that’s why she got this purgatory. I doubt she’s willing to discuss this with a psychologist, she doesn’t see her behavior as unusual, on the contrary, she claims she’s entered a period of purity.

What a conundrum you’re in @Charles! The first thing I thought when I read your post and Merle’s reply (which is very good) is can you speak to her surgeon? In the USA, we have HIPPA rules that prohibit the medical field from discussing a patient unless the patient has signed a release for the most part as there are always exceptions to the rule. If you can speak to the surgeon or their assistant it may be a good place to start. I also wonder if she ruptured on the table when they were doing her procedure.

Craniotomy’s are more invasive than endovascular methods but over the years our members who haven’t ruptured pretty much share they feel the same way on being close to death. Whether we ruptured or not, most of us feel we have gotten a second lease on life and we contemplate how we are going to live that life. For many, a turn to spiritual and religious beliefs begin, priorities change and philosophical ideas can change.

I think that craniotomy procedures are more invasive because the surgeon is working from the outside of the artery and thus has to access it through brain matter, with endovascular procedures the surgeon works from the inside of the artery so no cutting of brain tissue. I also feel, but don’t know, when our blood pathway is changed, it also changes the course of our neurotransmitters this happens with ruptures most definitely and with craniotomy procedures due to the nature of the beast, I’m not sure with unruptured aneurysms and coiling. I do know that with every angiogram I’ve had, my brain gets wonky and it takes me several months to set it right. My Neurosurgeon explained to me that it’s mostly the contrast dye and the anesthesia with a small bit in the change of blood flow. I takes me about 3-6 months to get my brain back to where it was before an angiogram I’ll never be back to where I was before I ruptured but have accepted the changes for the most part and challenge it when I’m trying to improve.

After I ruptured, I had no affect, none whatsoever, I also spoke like a robot because of it. I have a tremendous amount of brain damage and it took a long time, over three years, for my neural pathways to reconnect or find a work around to get my emotions (affect) back. Everyone is different in the issues they have and the length of time it takes our brain to heal.

This concerns me, her insulting you, I mean. Hopefully, you are able to walk away and let her settle for a bit. Constant insulting can take a blow on our self worth, so please make sure you’re taking care of yourself first. Our caregivers cannot care for us if they aren’t taking care of themselves. Should you leave or should you go? Like Merl says we cannot answer that for you and like Merl I am in the don’t give up boat. I also strongly encourage open and honest communication without placing blame on the other. No one can make us feel something, we allow it if that makes sense.

For me, I know that the anesthesia and contest dye really set me back. I follow my Neurosurgeon’s advice on hydration, protein and rest. I need the water and sports drinks to get everything out of my system and I have to be diligent with the whole routine. Our brains benefit from the electrolytes, water and protein along with rest. Ask her surgeon about this. The WHO recommends 120gms protein daily whilst the USA recommends 90gms or so the RDN told me.

Please stay in touch, we are here to help.


Thank you for your support. So far I haven’t been able to talk to her about our relationship. I always hear the same thing - our relationship was fake and now I want to live clean. I don’t know what’s going to happen in her head that’s going to turn 180°. As recently as last week at the hospital, everything was fine.

Her aneurysm didn’t rupture, according to her surgeon, everything went perfectly. He says it’s a postoperative change in her mental state. From a neurosurgery point of view, everything is fine.

So far, we’re separated, and I can’t imagine her suddenly behaving in a different way. As repulsive as her current behavior is, I miss her. Very much.

It’s as much as a life change for you as for her it sounds. Was or is she able to explain to you why she feels the relationship was “fake”? It can take a very long time for our brains to heal and it can be very upsetting and frustrating for patient and loved ones alike. Also if you don’t mind me asking, did she have coils or a craniotomy?

Yes, she did, I have a limitation from the past that we went into our relationship with. Even before the relationship started, I pointed out that it could only be fully resolved over a longer period of time, so we agreed right from the start. So far, she’s accepted it. She had a craniotomy.

Hey Charles,
Firstly I have to agree with everything Moltroub has said

I’m not sure ‘psychic’ is the word you’re looking for here. ‘Psychic’ is like a clairvoyant and I’m sorry my skills here are limited. I was saying to someone the other week about the ‘Gifts’ this journey can give. My ‘gifts’ have been some weird side effects. It’d be nice if it would give be gift I could use, like the lottery numbers or something useful at least :laughing:

I’m often saying to members “…that’s like asking how long is a piece of string?..” Nobody can give you a time, not even the medicos. They can give you a ‘Best case scenario’ and a ‘worst case scenario’, but we’re all wired differently, we have different types of annies, located in differing regions. Many treated in differing ways. Two people can have exactly the same condition, in exactly the same place and have it treated in exactly the same way, but have vastly differing outcomes. So to be giving an exact ‘time’, it’s just not possible.

Me, personally, I’ve needed a few neurosurgeries and none of the outcomes have been the same. They were all variable, but trying to find some sort of stable within myself was awful. My last major neurosurgery was in '13 and even today that variability still hits me. If I actually sitdown and think about it all I can fall into a very deep pit of what I call the ‘Poor Me’s’.

I don’t want to sound negative here, but there isn’t much you can do. She needs to find her own level. At 2 weeks? I was nothing like level. At 2 months I was having periods of level, but I still wasn’t right. It took me months to get to my level. This could take some time.

Merl from the Modsupport Team

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Thank you for your support, it helps me, very much.

I am 10 years post three ruptured then coiled aneurysms. Pre aneurysms I was so full of energy and always on the go. It took me a few months to be able to get through the day without a nap but still have not got my stamina back. Fortunately I never had anger issues but have and still do suffer from depression- not something I ever had before. I was 63 when my aneurysms ruptured. I know I am very lucky to have survived and have never worried that it could happen again. What will be will be. However as I said I was 63 and had a terrific life behind me. So glad I survived to meet my two gorgeous granddaughters and watch my lovely grandsons grow into young men. Perhaps I would have felt different had I been younger.


Thank you for the clarification. Merl is my go to guy for craniotomy procedures as are some other members here. Over the years I can tell you that it seems members who’ve had them can take a longer time to heal than members with an unruptured aneurysm that was treated endovascularly. It also seems that those members who have mental health disorders before can have a tougher go of it; although, some members seem to come out better. To me, it shows a strong correlation between the way a brain works and the effects of the repair.

I don’t know the two of you and speculating on why someone changes their mind about working on a relationship has way too many variables, it may just be the effects of her surgery and it may have other things coming up, hard to say. I do know that each and everyone of us enters into a relationship with their past experiences and it’s never a good idea not to be honest about them. I commend you for your honesty when you told her in the beginning. There’s a couple things I could suggest but don’t know if they’ll help…I’d try to stay in touch with her, perhaps a phone call or maybe a card just to let her know you’re still here for her. Try to keep it about her, not you and not your relationship. It’s not going to be easy. Many of us end up self isolating and the world feels very heavy on our shoulders because most everyone has that belief if you look fine, you are fine. This is definitely not the case with brain issues where we look fine but we are far from healing. The other thing I would suggest is for you to work with a therapist. I know you’d like her to see one and I would venture to say they’d like her brain to be a bit more healed. My Neuropsychologist wouldn’t do the Neuro testing until I was three months out of my second procedure which was six months from my rupture. He had to put me on hold as our first appointment was right before we found out I had to be coiled again. I think my ophthalmologist wanted at least two months, it may have been three, after any of my angiograms just to check my eyes which hopefully shows you how much our brain has to go through and the effects any procedure can have with other things.


Hi Charles,
Wishing You both well during this difficult time I would like to say I have not been in your shoes, but I have been in hers a little bit about me. I had a ruptured brain aneurysm in my basal region due to being so young they wanted to transfer me to another hospital and thought I was using drugs. Ironically, I was a paramedic, and knew how to get to the hospital fast before ended up Unconscious and throwing up all over myself since then, I have had hiccups along the way along with having a two year old daughter being married for five years, everything seem to crumble I no longer knew myself. I no longer had a memory I couldn’t recall who I was I was very angry this process took a long time for myself I chose not to go to , see a psychiatrist after being 11 years rupture free I now have three more aneurysms in play that are monitored yearly by my fantastic neurologist. This time is so very difficult. We need people in our lives speaking for myself only I can’t tell you the support system that I feel like I lacked . I hope you and your girlfriend ex however, you may feel find peace. This is a very difficult time a brain is a very sensitive thing sending prayers love and hugs your way best of luck.


Hi Charles, I can certainly identify with your wife’s behaviour, that was me too after my two craniotomies in 2013 & 2014. If my partner wasn’t as persistent, dog headed and as stubborn as me - I probably wouldn’t be here. He should be writing this reply from his point of view but I know, I definitely put him through hell and back and I had that “I don’t give a damn” attitude because I had cheated death, twice. I called the cops on him, because he was smothering me emotionally. I was legally unable to drive for a year after the surgeries so I would “take flight” as the therapist said. Fright or flight, I would run until I was too tired, lie down and go to sleep. Meanwhile, my partner would have a search party out looking for me. I knew something was strange going on in my head, I had a newfound freedom which I wanted to explore with my bulletproof vest on, so to speak. Like skydiving without a parachute. But when I came out of these “clouds” I only wanted him, so I could say I was Sorry and we would do it all again the next day. 8yrs later I got my drivers license back because I subsequently suffered from epilepsy as well, can go anywhere I want to by myself, but choose to have my partner share my newfound freedom. I am in my 60s, and I know the debilitating pressure I put my partner through, I was violent (through ASM) and he literally saved my life. Don’t give up, give her space, don’t smother her. Good Luck


Hey, thanks for the support, everyone. Unfortunately, it’s been another two days and it’s getting worse. We both seem to have lost our inhibitions and have brought out the heaviest weapons to hurl the ugliest nastiness from one side of the battlefield to the other.

We don’t communicate normally anymore, we just blame each other, who is the bigger liar, cheater, traitor, backstabber, what did who say, did, should have done, blah, blah…

In our country there is not much information on the subject, so we decided in the beginning to start a website on the subject of aneurysms for the use of future patients - https://aneurysma.cz/, there are also paintings he draws in the Gallery. Emotions are splashing in all directions.

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I have one more question for you. The C.T. showed that she has five more weak spots in her head. On the C.T., they were white dots. I read in your posts that you’ve each experienced more than one aneurysm. After how long? And you didn’t see anything similar on your head scan? How did you live with the fact that it might reoccur in a different location? How did you act to delay it as much as possible?

For our members who may not know, you can use Google Translate to translate the website!

Hi Charles,
This feeling of having a second chance was something that I experienced. There are things in one’s life that demand a bit of work or lack of authenticity on our part to make them work. I was present and cognizant the entire time. I would not assume that as a result of surgery she doesn’t know what she is saying. She is responsible for what she is saying. It may be time to give her some space.


I am going through the same metamorphosis as your partner. Not quite to the same extent articulation wise, but the feelings are the same. In some ways I feel as though she is testing you to see if you’re strong enough to stay the course. And if that’s not true, then she’s pushing you away to save you the pain and anguish of watching her deal with her new reality. You yourself have to decide what you want to do first. As the caregiver, it’s the hardest side to be on. This road is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. My suggestion to you is, get professional help! That is a truly the first step if you care about succeeding in this relationship. Please take care of yourself first, let her know that everything is going to be okay. Then take that step and talk to someone professionally. When you get to the top of that mountain, the view is wonderful! Warm regards!


unpopular opinion, but she might’ve wanted to dump you for a long, long time and this has nothing to do w the surgery and everything to do w the fact that she does now have a second chance at life. this surgery is very life changing. so is the diagnosis. she isn’t “emotionally changing” she just simply doesn’t want to be w you. it isn’t the surgery. it is her, it is you.

“leaving her to her fate” of what exactly? it sounds like she’s recovering well? she wants to be away from you, all you can do is respect that.

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