A couple of days ago I had an email conversation with a very nice and smart fellow blogger. She said that if there was a way for me to show a different point of view to this injury that it may shed a little more light to a complicated time in someone’s life. I am going to take that conversation to heart and I am going to try to do that in this post. I am going to attempt to explain what I saw as my families reaction, as well as actual reactions that my family had. Everything that I have written in this blog to this point has been shoot from the hip style of writing. I sat down with the lap top and I went after it. This post is going to be a little different. It may take me a day or two to tell this point of view in an effort to be as clear and concise as possible. Please be patient. Hopefully it will not be too long and still hit all the points I want to hit.
The first part of this is the obvious. A families reaction to this type of injury or life changing event as I say sometimes will be the same for everyone. You will be afraid, confused, worried, tearful, mad, and sad. You will ask “why has this happened to our family?” Of course there is no answer that you will hear that you will make you as a family feel better or understand such a quick and unexpected tragedy. You will do everything within your power to make it go away. The only thing that will make it go away is time, compassion, understanding, and the ability to accept what has happened and look forward to better days. Sometimes I suppose that won’t even work, but remember I am only speaking from my families experience.
The second part of this is a little more complicated to understand unless you are the one who has had the injury. There are going to be alot of emotions running through your head, and as much as you the family are trying to help an injured adult, they may think that you are holding them back or treating them like a little child. I had alot of these emotions going through my head for sure once I was able to use my brain again for something productive. What a family or spouse needs to understand is everything that you are doing for the best of reasons may be beating the injured one down in their mind. I am not saying that is the truth, I am just saying that when I was injured I had those feelings. I was full of guilt thinking that this was my fault, also for my children to have to watch me when my wife was at work. I had to be followed around the house when I stood up. I had to have my food brought to me, I had to be bathed, and actually dried off and dressed because I could not bend over to put my own socks on without excruciating pain. This causes alot of guilt for a man that is used to going to work everyday providing for his family. I was the rock that all of my family depended on. Now I am literally a rock that can’t get off the couch by himself. I was full of grief for seeing my family in so much emotional pain. I tried to make it all go away for them. Actually I was making it worse by trying to do too much which scared them and made them work harder.
As a family caregiver, you may get yelled at alot. “I can do it myself” or “just leave me alone” were common for me. Leaving me alone was nothing more than just stop talking to me for a few minutes. When this kind of injury hits your family remember that the only thing the injured may have control of their opinion. Do not take their opinion away from them. You don’t have to agree with it, just acknowledge it. The injured may want to speak for an hour at a time about things that have no relevance or may not want to talk all day. I wanted to talk so badly about what I was feeling but I felt that it would cause more grief to my family. I stayed to myself about it which made me withdraw completely some days. Its ok if they decide not to say much today. Its ok if they get a little angered, or frustrated, or sad, you most likely have done nothing wrong. It is a cycle that I went through that had no rhyme or reason.
I did do things that I was not proud of of. Most of it I have no recollection of because of the nature of my injury but it did happen.One that stands in my mind is a story that my wife has told me on a couple of occasions and I do have vague memory of. She had taken my medication and hid them because I was messing them up and taking the wrong ones at the wrong times. She would get the proper pills out and give them to me when needed. When I first went to get my pills and they weren’t there and she told me what she had done, I picked up a large down throw pillow from the couch raised it above my head and slammed it to the floor. I have been married for 23 years and my wife has never been afraid of me. She told me that she was afraid of me on that day. She had put those pills in a safe place for a very good reason but I could not see it that way at that time.
Be ready for a mix of emotions that you have not seen before. You will see plenty of tears, anger, sadness, guilt, some happiness and gratitude as well. There are plenty more and I could name them all day. Just be ready for the unexpected.
Just remember that you do not know what they are feeling or what they are going through. Also remember and make them remember that you are going through it as well, just in a different way. Do not allow them to continue to pity themselves. Encourage them that it will get better and try to help them keep their held held high. You cannot make it better, but you can make it worse. Be very understanding while at the same time standing your ground. You do do not deserve to be talked to in an angry fashion. It is not your fault and let that be known. “I am sorry you feel that way but its not my fault. I do not deserve for you to talk to me like that.” That is how it sunk in to me. I was actually causing a bad situation to get worse. Once I realized that, things started to get better.
You can and will get through this and hopefully the outcome will be great. If there is anything that I missed or did not say clearly, please do not hesitate to send me a message or post a comment. I will try to clear anything up as well as I can.
Lisa thanks for the idea to try to get this point of view across.
- Understanding Shame and Guilt (sdtherapy.wordpress.
- How To Manage Your Partner’s Bad Moods (psychologytoday.com)
- Dealing with the Mental Trauma of Sport Injuries (gturle.wordpress.com)
- Guest Post: The Enormity of Brain Injury (ryansrally.org)
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and The Family (laveldanaylor.wordpress.com)