Personality differences

I’m having some issues with my personality and it’s driving my loved ones away. I have a hard time responding to others without sounding like I’m being defensive, putting the other person in a similarly defensive posture.

For example: This morning my wife asked me where the razors were. From her perspective, she was just wondering if I knew where they were. I, on the other hand, reacted in defensiveness, as if she was accusing me of moving – or losing – them. This caused her to react in kind, sparking a little argument along with hurt feelings. She feels like since my SAH a couple years back and my clipping early last year, my personality has changed. I think I’ve always been a bit prickly, but it’s gotten much worse since my clipping.

Wondering if this is part of my brain recovery and what I can do about it. I can try not to be prickly, but I’m not very good at overcoming that. Any thoughts/suggestions? Thanks!

-Nacho

1 Like

Jared, I started a new topic with your first post. It’s a really good question that many of us have experience with after a rupture. I think you’re ahead of the game as your are taking responsibility for your responses. It tells me that you’re becoming more aware of what’s happened to your brain and how you’re responding, that’s a good step in the right direction.

It’s really hard to lose those we love when we can’t understand what we’ve done wrong much less being able to identify what we are doing that’s the source. I can suggest a few things - learn relaxation breathing or mindfulness or square breathing. There’s a lot of different YouTube videos on it but I think the current name is square or box breathing. Here’s but one video Relieve Stress & Anxiety with Simple Breathing Techniques - YouTube

The way I was taught it back in 1976 was to inhale through the nose all the way to your diaphragm for count of five hold for count of five and exhale through your mouth for a count of five, pause for count of five and repeat for five times. It’s just a starting point but you can increase it as you get better. It helps to know what your body does immediately before you get prickly, do you tighten your jaw, stomach, make a fist?

What is so neat about it is that one can literally not keep a tight muscle as the body is being provided with a good amount of oxygen. It also helps the heart, blood pressure is reduced and the brain gets the oxygen it needs. When I taught it for several decades with different clients, it seems the boys really liked this exercise coupled with me telling them to make a fist. If they were breathing deeply, they couldn’t keep the fist and it brought a lot of laughter and amazement.

As with any exercise, it has to be practiced all the time - before you get out of bed, when you’re in the bathroom, before and after each meal, while watching television or doing anything fun or not and when you go to bed. Eventually it will become such a part of you, you’re not aware you’re doing it. I was doing it in ICU when they were trying to keep my BP up due to vasospasms and they were having a hard time of it. One of the doctors told me “Stop that!” I asked “stop what?” and he said “breathing”. I was confused and asked him if he wanted me to die…he replied no, of course not, I want you to breathe normal.:joy:

Because of the client population I served, I would have them do the breathing before, during and after a conversation. This was more difficult as conversations don’t usually have pauses especially when we get prickly as you say, or angry, or anxious, in pain, or not thinking and just blurt something out which leads to bad feelings all around. See if your wife will practice this with you, it makes it easier. When you get good at it, it becomes part of you and it just takes one or two times before you verbally respond.

Another suggestion would be to check out the TBI sites. Because we are such a small group of specialized brain issues, there isn’t as much information as what the TBI folks have. To me, brain damage is brain damage no matter how we got it. The brain still has to repair its neural pathways and that can take a very long time.

My last suggestion would be to seek out a cognitive behavioral therapist or NeuroPsychologist in your area or any therapist that deals with brain injuries. Perhaps your Neurosurgeon or Neurologist knows of one they would recommend.

1 Like

I also have experienced personality changes. I’m in my third year post recovery of a subarachnoid hemorrhage. The first year it was especially noticeable. I really understand that feeling of being defensive and reactionary toward things people say and then feeling badly about it afterwards. I found that over time that got better. A physical therapist explained to me that a part of my brain that was affected was the part that controls emotionality. It’s been immensely helpful knowing that!

I agree with the moderator. Deep breathing really does help as does psychotherapy. I’m currently doing a course of Noom Mood, where I’ve learned about different ways to do deep breathing that the moderator mentioned. The course has been helpful for me because I feel like it’s been a lot to pull together over the last 3 years. The course combination of CBT and DBT skills has been helpful for me.

For me, a big part of recovery has been understanding how my brain works now. That has taken a lot of time and will continue be a work in progress. Nobody really talks to you about what’s going to happen after you leave the hospital!

I hope you will work on being kind to yourself and giving yourself a lot of time out. Learning when you’re feeling overwhelmed and taking time out really helps also. For example, I know that if I’m spending time with people I will likely need downtime afterward.

2 Likes

I had my Annie eight years ago and I too must be prickly. My husband often takes offense to what I think is a simple question. We didn’t have this problem before my stent was put in.

I think when things are adjusted in our brains everything is not always the same. I have other deficits but have been learning to deal with them. Talking openly with your spouse about the changes you notice might help them to be a little more patient and less defensive with you.

I agree with the comments regarding breathing exercises and also I sought counseling and that helped me.

This group has been very helpful because you see that you are not the only one dealing with the different issues that occur. Our families don’t always understand but knowing others who also deal with similar issues makes me not feel crazy. If you know what I mean.

My life has been extended and enhanced through the grace of God so I give everything to him to guide me. May God continue to bless you too. Peace be with you.

Jj

2 Likes

Hello me… I had the same problem and I did the only thing I could do to stop it. I retreated and I rarely say anything about anything to anybody. I don’t like the new me and I can’t expect anybody else to like her either. I just don’t know how to change me.

Hi,
It’s been a very long time since I’ve been up to posting. Not for not wanting to, but, as a caregiving wife with physical limitations and a plethora of mental health issues to deal with daily, I can barely find the strength to eat or practice my self care. Since I brought Dan home at the end of May last year, I’ve been repeatedly yelled at, cursed out, ignored and just made to feel worse about myself than I already do. He has never been so verbally abusive in The 14 (last year doesn’‘t count, sadlly) as in these last 10 months. Before he came home, I had a male therappist lined up, researched lots of brain healing, relaxing, confidence building meditations, loaded up his Kindle (that I bought for him to use on rehab…Netflix mostly…which he didn’t touch), with fun, easy word, matching games, had his blankets and pillow for the couch fresh and ready. He blew off the therapist, blew off meditation (still does, and toether we found a guy he really liked), blew off the games. I have been nothing but a realistic supportive wife and cheerleader when warranted. I make lists, white boards, notebooks, pens, extra glasses, ask if he needs help or wants to do things on his own (on bad days, I need to do more). I have not put pressure on him to be “like he was before”… we are realists and know that he will BE who he is now. He will do what he can when he feels secure and confident to do so safely. I am extra careful with my words and wish he tried to do the same…We had a few couples counseling sessions where we discussed with each other, under guidance of therapist, how we wanted to be talked to, trigger words and phrases and, always, " I" messages. I truly feel that I have held up my end, as I check in with him often. He, on the other hand says whatever he wants, sending me to the bathroom to sob my heart out (I don’ t want to scare my dogs or expose them to my negative/sad energy). Sadly I could go on but am tired and my head hurts from tonight’s crying because he said I was just like someone who he knows hurt me deeply…I got him a great brain coach (I had to constantly remind him about himreally wanting to work with her…I said I’ d put it on my credit card because he “was easily worth the investment”). I honestly don’t know what else to do…please HELLLP!! What am I forgetting? Oh, I fix his covers every night so he can get into bed easily at least because he doesn’t sleep well…

Be patient, it’s okay to be yourself just hang out with people who enjoy the new you. Take care!

1 Like

As hard as we try we can’t control what others do but we can decide how we respond to what they do to us. I pray you will find a way to find joy for yourself. Often when we find joy it leads others to find joy too. I used a counselor to help me find my joy again. God bless you!

2 Likes

There’s so much here now I can relate to. Yes the first year after rupture was trying for everyone and perhaps a few years after that. I had no filter, would say anything that popped out as I couldn’t process. Many times it was hilarious and I would be confused as I didn’t get humor anymore.

@Mary I would caution you into retreating, it’s not healthy in my opinion, but I’m not a therapist. If you don’t have a therapist, I’d suggest finding one. We really need to like ourselves. Can you put affirmations on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator door and everywhere else you can think of? These can help, one of my favorite sayings is from the movie “Help” where the actress tells the little girl something like “You are beautiful. You are smart and you are loved”. We actually did this with a rescue we have early on, she loved it and we did as well so in the end it helped our relationship with each other. Also for me, after rupture, I had to practice and couldn’t do that if I retreated. It’s much easier for me to identify when I’ve said something incorrect now and I credit it to my few friends, BH of course and some family members. Practicing here with the group helps tremendously.

@Tenged are you doing too much for him and not yourself? If caregivers (carers) don’t take care of themselves, they cannot take care of their loved ones. That first year, I resented BH doing everything for me and not letting me try it seems. The PhD I went to for evaluation to see why my brain wasn’t working correctly did some therapy sessions with us both (before and after the IQ test and the MMPI). What we worked out as a team helped me and BH tremendously. I was finally allowed to at least try and BH was finally able to let me try. Can your husband turn down the bed sheets? If so, let him do it. Don’t do anything he is capable of doing would be my personal suggestion. In the world which I worked in, doing something that another is capability of could be construed as “enabling”. It’s not healthy for anyone. I would also suggest not getting into a word fight with him. Though others may disagree, I think walking away is better. Something men seem able to do naturally and women need to learn. Just use your “I” as in “I’m not able to have this conversation right now with you” and walk away. It is perfectly ok in my book to revisit at a time you both can remain calm.

As @SeeJ says in part:

This holds true whether we are the ones who experienced a rupture or aneurysm repair or the caregivers.

2 Likes

Great information, well said. Thank you!

2 Likes

Hey Tenged,
I’m sorry to hear of your situation and when you mentioned the stresses you are having, there was a few which had me going ‘ouch’ because I did some very similar things. I was frustrated, annoyed and angry. I focused it all on those around me, (which more often than not was my wife) but the reality was that I was frustrated with me, I was annoyed things weren’t back to normal and I was angry at the world.

For many of us males, dealing with emotions does not come naturally. In society, males are the strong ones, I wasn’t and this dented my view of ‘Me’. That was ugly, that ‘ugly’ turned into anger with self. ‘I could before…why can’t I now?’. I don’t like accepting help, I never have. I enjoy being the helper but as for me needing help. This is very foreign to me and at times I fight it with all of my being.

For me personally, I had to find my own new ‘normal’ and although it was nice being waited on and at times I did need assistance, there were times when I needed to do, needed to fail to then learn my ‘New Limits’. My frustration was/is a mammoth beast and although I don’t purposely let it out, every now and again it boils to the surface and burns everybody. I try to keep it under some sort of control by keeping myself occupied, to divert my thinking from ‘My Damn Head’ but if I do too much I end up in agony. My wife ‘tries’ to help, but there’s nothing she can do and the more she does the more annoyed I get because I feel I should be doing more, which only adds to my frustration and around we go again.

My wife could see what was happening and we had to sit down and have a big, long conversation regarding expectations for both of us. She understood my need to find some sort of normal, but by the same accord, she could see I was frying myself in trying to achieve it. We came to some sort of agreement, she would back off until asked. But that I had to be honest and acknowledge in myself when enough was enough and not to try and simply ignore it all and just ‘push on through’, but to ask for help. So there was a bit of give and take for both of us. I’m almost 10 years on since my last surgery and still today it’s a work in progress. Some days she’ll get on my case when I don’t need her too, but then some days I say I’m ok in what I’m doing, only to then fall in a heap at the end of the day because I’ve over done it. Sometimes I think I need to learn the hard way.

I am NOT saying my wife and I have it all sorted, not at all. Even today, years later, there’s some days we get it right but days when we don’t. But we’ve put steps in place so that when either of us see an issue, we try to deal with it then and there, rather than either of us getting to that ‘Boiling point’.

I’d suggest you need to have a sitdown conversation around expectations for you both. How to ask for assistance if it’s needed. How to identify when and where you may see assistance may help. If you can both give (and take) some direction from each other to reach a mutually agreed outcome, this may help to calm the seas.

Merl from the Modsupport Team

2 Likes

Thank you, Merl, for taking the time to share with me. Dan and I have had many, many heart to heart conversations. I make it a point to hold his hand while we talk, a technique recommended by marriage counselors. I have caringly told him that, at any time, if he has a feeling that is troubling him, I will listen. When he says “I don’t want to burden you with my problems” I respond, “You are my husband, I love you and nothing about you is a burden. Let’s share the load together.” Sometimes he does when I ask him what he is thinking or feeling. Often days go by where he chooses not to say anything and then gets defensive or says things to me in hurtful ways that we had talked about in our most recent heart to heart. I don’t expect him to remember everything or have ‘expectations’ other than him to figure out a way to remember my triggers. I suggested that he write them down. I journal and write important things down myself. He has shared with me some things that I could have said or done differently and I asked him how I could say/do in a way that wasn’t upsetting to him. Not ‘enabling’ but respecting his wishes…When I do that, it’s not met with loving kindness and, male or not male, he knows my history of being in emotionally abusive relationships. He has always been a sensitive, anti male stereotype, understanding, reassuring loving man. I do not throw this into his face because I know he is thinking differently now. I do tell him, again, that I need him to please write these things down…My therapist and support system agree…he knows that I am getting support. I tell him that he can create support for him too…right on this site…I won’t read his stuff so he has his own ‘safe space’ like I try to. He still isn’t ready. I don’t know how much more abuse I’m able to take. And, yes, I do ‘walk away’ a lot, share with my therapist, looking for perspective, do my breathing, love on my dogs, watch something, then ask him if we can talk. I’m a talk things out girl. If I don’t, it will eat me up. He is the opposite. In these cases, I have shared, both in couples counseling and just ourselves, my needs, asking him if he could try doing blah blah next time he’s feeling a certain way before saying something to me. He could walk away too, but doesn’t. I’m Irish and Italian, stubborn and not a quitter but I refuse to be disrespected in my own home where I am now paying all of the bills. His words and actions have damaged my ‘safe space.’ I’ve told him this, non confrontationally (with advice from my therapist) and he seems to get it…until a few days later when something inside him triggers him. I’ve shared with my support system that I need to ‘get away’ for a short while (stay at a nearby hotel for a few days to get some peace). He is supportive of this and at a point where he is physically able to take care of himself and 1 of our dogs (our cavvie, Pax, is very low maintainance). I’d be taking our Yorkie, Breezy, because she has been very stressed too. Plus, she’s my emotional support pup (so is Pax, but he loves Dan and I hope that the boys might have some bonding time, missing the girls). My therapist and circle think I ought to ASAP…

Welcome, Nacho! My husband had a rupture last Feb and it affected his mood, reactions and emotions. He has always been a head thinker but, since meeting me, we have balanced each other and worked well as a team for our first 14 years together (the 15th wasn’t good). 2 days after I brought him home from his first rehab, my groomer was coming to do my dogs Dan and I. Dan insisted on washing his hair first. While I knew that Kelli wants to cut hair dry, there was no talking him out of it. He described how he wanted to get on the bathroom floor and lean over the tub to get to the drain. I didn’t think it sounded safe as he was still working on balance so I simply asked if I could join him upstairs so he could show me his vision. He cursed me out majorly. Put me in tears so that I could barely breathe. He had never spoken to me that way before. This is just one of many examples of him misunderstanding my intentions and just going off on me. I told him all I wanted to do was “see” what he was describing, not stand over him. To be honest, I didn’t think it sounded safe but kept that to myself. Before the rupture, with the exception of people at work, he was the most kind, thoughtful, understanding, patient, loving man. We did Imago couples counseling and it was such a beautiful session. We both spoke and repeated what we heard each other say, checking to see if we got it right and we did! The very next day, he went off on me, no imago, nothing. Not even an ‘I message’ or feeling words. There have been numerous situations where I have been the brunt of his frustration. I have sat next to him, held his hand and asked how I can best respond to him when he is obviously frustrated. He told me a few things which I wrote down. I told him that I had a few triggers and asked if he would please write them on his white board. He did not. I still do not know why. I suggested that we try to find a meditation…short…that he liked. He found one but didn’t stick with it though he said he really liked the guy and how he presented things.

I apologize for rambling. From all that I’ve read and people I’ve spoken with, it can take time, nobody knows how long, for the neuroplasticity to rebuild in the brain. I searched for ‘post aneurysm brain rebuilding’ and found a brain coach. We did a free telephone consultation and she was wonderful! Her methods are tailored to each individual and she was just so kind, not pushy. I’m currently learning breathing techniques for stress and anxiety which have great results.

I hope in my ramblings, there is some clarity. A little bit of prickly I could handle. Lately it feels like rose thorns…

Kim

Moltroub,
Thank you for your input. It is very helpful as always. Now that I look more closely at what were acts of loving intentions, perhaps they weren’t received as such. I do not do a lot for him and encourage his desire for independence and doing things that he used to to help out, like laundry, getting the dogs up, fed, pottied and cleaned up. I repeatedly thank him for his help. I never want him to feel pressured so he knows that I don’t expect him to do everything, though I hear him when he says how desperately he wishes it. I’d give anything if he would attend counseling but have ceased suggesting it because it is repeatedly met with ‘I don’t want to talk to anyone, I have you.’ I try to tell him that I’m no expert nor can I truly, honestly relate to his experience, his trauma and that perhaps the right therapist could at least listen to his frustrations and fears, offering suggestions. I am truly hoping that the brain coach might be able to reach him. He does struggle in bed which is why I offered to help straighten the sheets as his restlessness causes him to get very tangled up. I asked him first if it was :Ok’ and he said it was. I am going to take your advice and let him do his thing. I will remind him that if he needs or wants my help, he can ask…

I have truly tried walking away. I do go up to the bathroom to cry, beat my dammit doll and share my frustration and sadness with my circle of trusted people to try to get perspective and guidance on how I can best handle myself. I have gotten so much great support and advice along this journey…Having a history of being verbally and emotionally abused by men, I have to at least get resolution after time. I sometimes go for days without talking because I am so shocked, hurt and don’t know how to express myself. We always end up talking. I just wish it didn’t take me having a breakdown to be listened to…

Hello Mary,
It is normal for some to withdraw or as I would prefer to say “to become quiet.” Our life has changed and is no longer following the same patterns as before. A confusing time for sure and there is nothing we can do but wait and see how it will turn out. It has taken many years to learn patience and to accept the changes that have taken place in my life. I used to worry, and at times I was an angry muppet.

After my rupture, I had time to look at my life, where I was, and what was coming next. In the space of three years, I changed everything. Or perhaps, everything changed me. These days I have time, time for the important things in life. Quiet is good Mary, enjoy it. :ok_hand:

2 Likes

Having good manners in a relationship certainly helps a great deal and is often neglected isn’t it? I’m happy to read you’re not forgetting! It sounds as you’re doing everything you can not only for yourself but for him as well. Does he have a neurologist? Perhaps he needs some type of medication to help him along. As everyone who has read my posts, I don’t often suggest meds, in fact it took my neurologist a bit of time to talk me into trying some a couple months ago as I was a wreck. He prescribed a limited amount and cautioned me to not go over the prescription. Not a problem! The last time he saw me, I had taken but two in those couple of months. He said I needed to carry one with me at all times. Guess I hadn’t improved as much as I thought.:joy:

1 Like

I understand your desire to try to fix everything. My wife who ruptured in April 2022 Is struggling with her mood too. I get yelled at a lot, most of the time i try to just ignore it. there are times I don’t achieve that. If i yell back it does not help and makes my wife cry. One of her doctors recommended she speak to a therapist about her crying and the fact she is combative. She saw the therapist twice when she (therapist) called me into her office and told us nicely that because my wife was unwilling or unable to partipate that we should wait until she can remember anything because she fears she is just frustrating my wife. Her memory is really bad 5 minuets or less. I think my wife was frustrating the the therapist.
I don’t journal but was think the other day i should start so i can keep thing straight in my mind. Some days i think i can’t do this anymore but what choice do i have? The next day is usually better. Everything is a struggle ie showering, appointments, changing into clothes, brushing her hair or teeth, eating she will feed the dog 1/2 have her meal if i put dog in another room she gets mad if i ask her not to she does it anyway. I try to put it in perspective. My wife has brain damage it takes time to heal. As i have read here sometime years. We do have laughs now but she is not the same person.

It sure sounds you are doing anything you can. I am sure you are doing a great job but as caregivers we can’t solve everything

2 Likes

Hi Nacho, I can relate to what you describe and wish I had more suggestions to share with you because if I did it would mean I have found the work around. Hindsight tells me that what I have rehearsed in my head as a better method to deal with a situation really is not what I end up doing when I am actually in a similar situation.

I do know that when I am overwhelmed mentally I tend to lash out far more easily and readily. As such, I try to pay attention and recognize when that is happening and deal with it before something else happens.

2 Likes

Ohh yes, very much so. My cup, it overfloweth (over anyone in the vicinity). It can be something insignificant, just enough to fill the cup that little bit more than I can handle and …look out. One day I was having a chronic bad headache day and just needed to get home. I shouldn’t have been driving, let alone working and someone innocently asked me the time and that was the single drop too much and I blew up. It was nasty horrible. My tongue can be very vicious. I have learnt to slow things down and listen, think, then respond… …calmly… …most of the time. But at times my ‘calmly’ up and vanishes and the words escape without thought (often full of expletives) and offend everybody.

Merl from the Modsupport Team

1 Like

Oh my gosh me too, despite the promise I made that I wouldn’t curse! But being mentally overwhelmed seems to put a roadblock to all my skill sets.

1 Like