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Learning to accept the changes in yourself

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Hi everyone.

So when I was in hospital last year it seemed like I had such a physical mountain to climb. The list of what I couldn't do was so much longer than the list of what I could do and I think most of my efforts in recovery have been pointed at each physical and mental goal I wanted to reach and I have been blessed that I have met so many of them.

Thing is I think it's only now that I am beginning to realise how much I have actually been changed emotionally by my brain injury. And I am finding it a little hard to process how that feels. My GP asked me today whether I was aware of how much I have changed since surviving my SAH and I honestly couldn't answer him because although I feel like me I also know I think and act quite differently so I think I need a little help with that.

So how has everyone else come to terms with this personality and change to their individual style. Have you made friends with the new you, did it just come with time, please tell. I'm curious.

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The new me is less outgoing, more anxious going places that previously I would never have thought about. I guess time has made me friends with the new me & I get less frustrated with my shortcomings.

On the upside I discovered a few things about the new me I like better so its not all bad news! I really think time is the greatest healer (its a cliché I know but its really true) & I'm less angry all round than I was 12 months ago.

I do think it takes time to go through the five stages of healing to get to acceptance so maybe it is really all down to time?

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It has been almost 2 years since my SAH and I still haven't come to terms with the new me. I'm not dramatically different, but it seems like parts of my personality have become exaggerated from what they were before.

I have a hard time finding anything positive about the changes. For me, the emotional and personal changes have been the most challenging thing to deal with. I don't understand the changes or what they mean which makes it frustrating for me and those around me.

If you can't tell, I'm having a not-so-good day. :frown:

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Hi Daffs good thread xx

I cannot remember much in the early months but after a shunt was fitted I was okay.

Anyway I asked my daughter if she thought I had changed as I feel like the old Win.

More fat on me though !!

This is my Sarah being tactful "Mum since shunt I saw you coming back to us" We blubbered again !!

I am more watery headed, I cry at the drop of a hat.

All in all I am happy with my life. just like to be able to walk further.

Found out how much I am loved and that's means so much to me as you cannot buy love.

Thanks to my family. Thanks to All on BTG as I know I'm not alone in my struggle.

Love to All

WinB143 xx xx

Edited by Winb143
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Like this thread :-D

This is the early months for me (SAH 9/10) and I would say that I have certainly not accepted the new me yet. In fact I am still finding out what has changed about me.

As well as the me who can't read properly, remember words and forget everything all the time, I get very stressed about changes or things going wrong, even minor things. I get very upset and I cry really easily - usually at least once a day. I have trouble talking to people about myself, particularly trying to answer questions. My Occupational Therapy Lady has definitely put me down as having anxiety.

At the moment I think of all the things I can't do any more. I would really like to start to think about the new me and find some happiness in how I am and be comfortable with a new life and be a "survivor".

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I am 8 months in and I am at the angry stage. Be sure, I know I am blessed to be alive and I feel my gifts in life given to me are my abilities to walk, talk, see, hear, and feel. I want to use them for good, just has not revealed what I should do yet. I am much more sensitive than I was before and I cry at the drop of a hat.

But, I find myself frustrated and short tempered lately. I was always so self assured and confident. Happy and ready for a night out with the girls. Now, I'm ready for bed.

I am having trouble accepting the changes in me. Maybe a year from now my answer may be different.

But, push forward, I will.


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What a fantastic thread!

I did not accept my circumstances immediately. Looking back, I can see how I struggled with confidence and self-esteem. I was, as I saw it, officially ‘useless.’ I do however appear to have taken a leap forward.

I attend regular group sessions with a psychologist at Headway. There is a theory that ‘we are what we think.’ So if we think that we are useless, we are going to feel useless. At these sessions, we practice Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) which is all about managing our emotions in a more positive way.

Another thing I do is try to adapt my environment to suit the new me. After 12 months of trying to slot into my old life and failing miserably, I decided to create a new environment for me to live within calmly.

Although difficult at the time, not being able to return to work turned out to be the best thing. My job had unpredictable aspects with a need to think quickly. Instead of returning to work, I undertook voluntary work, choosing my hours and duties. This gave me a sense of control over what I was doing and because it was new, I wasn't comparing myself to how I was.

I scaled down my friends and ceased contact with everyone who was a challenge. This ‘clearing of the decks’ saved me a lot of wasted emotional energy.

I also adapted my hobbies. I tried to resume my running, but as hard as I tried, could only manage a jog. Pushing too much in this aspect led me to being fatigued for days afterwards. Also, my reduced ability was frustrating and a reminder of what had been lost.

I therefore took up a new way to keep fit and now enjoy yoga, pilates and walks; and because they are new pursuits, I don’t cross reference with how I was.

For me, the essence of dealing with the changes post SAH, has involved creating a new environment, suitable to the needs of the person that I am now. Take a house plant for example. It needs the correct conditions and environment to thrive. If it needs sunlight, it won’t cope very well in the shade. For me, the SAH changed my ‘environmental conditions.’

Although I have issues after the SAH, notably fatigue, memory problems and anxiety; these do not make me less of a person. I am also far more empathic, emotional, caring, nurturing and kinder. These positive changes have improved family relationships. Those who love me do not think less of me because I get tired, forget messages and become nervous in some situations.

I am going to make an analogy. Since having a baby, I’ve gone up a dress size. I would love to be the size I was, but when I squeeze into my old clothes, they feel uncomfortable and make me feel a little depressed. The tight clothes remind me that I’ve put on weight. By wearing a size that is correct, I feel comfortable and consequently am less worried about my weight gain – the new clothes don’t dig in and so I don’t have that reminder that I’ve gained weight.

Sometimes squeezing into the past (or an old pair of jeans!) just doesn’t work – and for that, my SAH and pregnancy weight gain, have something in common!

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In the early days my emotions were all over the place and I really felt I had a complete personality change ...not a nice feeling.

I always had hope and its been my biggest asset. I kind of always knew that things would get a lot better and they have, I'm 5 years 3 months in.

I used to cry a lot in the early years but rarely do so now. Instead of feeling so sad about what happened to me I now feel so glad and thankful that I walked out the other end of this. As the years have passed this feeling has grown stronger.

The emotional recovery and overall mental recovery has been by far the biggest hurdle. Not many people have had to face the challenges that we have had on here. I think when the emotional stuff becomes too much its important to take a step back... I have the little voice that says 'wait a wee minute, look what I've been through and look at how much I've improved'. I listen to that voice a lot and it keeps things in check for me.

I have pretty much accepted that I have changed but happy to say that the old me has come back quite a bit now. I think she was there all the time waiting for the chance to come back.

Anyone struggling with all the emotional stuff do try to get help with it the earlier the better. And talk to people about how you feel although this I always found difficult and needed plenty of hankies. But I can talk freely about what happened now and how I really feel and don't need the hankies anymore!!

Good luck with this everyone.

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Like everyone I found it hard at first but came to the conclusion that it wasn't going to go back to the way it was no matter how I tried, I just had to get on with it.

I wasn't with any groups there wasn't anything like that (or if they were it was in the evening not an option then)

I think if I'd have kept going the way I was looking back it was unhealthy about the same time I found BTG & the veil lifted slowly.

Don't know if that makes sense I've just wrote it as I think it...

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From my own viewpoint, I can only say that I didn't change, not as a person, just needed to adapt and adjust to this new life that was suddenly thrust upon me. It took me a fair few years to work it out and it wasn't easy, but I needed to stop comparing myself now, to who and what I did before the SAH, as all I did was set myself up to fail each time and become more miserable.

I think that I became emotionally more stable once I accepted that I would have some pretty big limitations in my new life and instead of working against them and fighting it, try to work alongside them and have as good a life, as I possibly could and no, it's not a perfect situation, but I'm fairly happy with it all now and have finally found some peace.

I think that it really is a question of time, not months, but years and adaptation and to be honest, I can't really remember what life was like pre-SAH now, it's almost like looking at another person, but life's pretty okay and as the years go by, I'm doing a lot more than what I was doing in the early years.

Good luck guys, you will get there too. xxx

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I feel like a 7year old right now. It is an improvement because I felt 5 for the longest time.

a 5 yr old cries at anything, a 7yr old cries at things that are more meaningful

a 5yr old plays outside without a care of when dinner is, a 7yr old is more aware of the time

a 5yr old only plays, a 7yr old is struggling with reason as well

a 5yr old feels things to the max a 7yr old tempers feelings with logic

I am still growing up. But I realize this is the stage where I am at now. It's strange to be able to actually witness the stage instead of just being in it like you are when you're a kid. It doesn't make it easier, it actually can make it harder at times as I'd just like to get to adult stage ASAP...and I know what I am missing. However, I still have that innocence that a child has and that care-free, fun-loving feeling at all times. I wouldn't trade that for the stupid adult responsible feeling if given a choice. I do think that I won't be given that choice and it will come upon me with time. Is the age of reason a blessing or a curse?


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Daffs, what a wonderful thread!

To answer your main question... Yes, I have made friends with the new me, and yes it took time, plenty of it.

For quite some time I kicked and rebelled a bit, wanted so much to be the person who I once was.

Recovery from an SAH can be a very dark, lonely, scary place. Without the wonderful support from this site, my husband, my daughter, family and close friends I honestly don't know how I would have made it through.

Many times over the years there have been tears, frustrations, and self doubt.

I needed to pick myself up, take a long hard look and my life and start living it again.

I would say my turning point came after two years, I started to have much more understanding, patience and tolerance.

We are the lucky ones. We survived.

I still have a mixture of good days and bad but I just try to ride with things and take each day as it comes.

I still have full blown paddys but that's ok.

There is a lot of the old me still in there, it's just taking time to find her.

My daughter floored me with a comment recently, she said 'Mum, I can't remember what you were like before your SAH' at first I felt a bit upset by this but then I thought, well actually that's ok, because I can't remember much of the old me either.

I can honestly say that I am happy , and I would not change anything about any of the journeys through recovery that I have had to go through.

To all those new in they're recovery it really does it easier, you will learn to accept and adapt. You will find yourself again.

Have patience and understanding.

Time really is the best healer and I honestly believe I will continue to improve as the years go by.

Yes, I still get shattered beyond words. Yes, I still get really bad head pains and temple pressure. Yes, I still muddle my words and forget things but that's me, that's who I am, and I'm very proud of all I've achieved and I'm very privileged to still be here alive and kicking, doing something that makes me laugh every singe day!

Take care,

SarahLou Xx

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I feel I am sat in a circle of very wise and compassionate group of women in this thread. Thank you all for your replies. Really really helpful . Lin, I love the analogy of the jeans , I need to lean into my differences rather than being frustrated and annoyed that I wasn't like that previously. What's that saying? ' Give me the strength to change the things I can, the courage to accept the things I can't and the wisdom to know the difference. '

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I have come to this thread rather late and do not have any pearls of wisdom to add.

I would just like to pick up on Sarah Lou's point about it all starting to become clearer when you hit the 2 year mark because that is uncannily similar to the way I am feeling right now.

My grown up son & daughter have been telling me from almost day 1 that I need to relax and let my brain recover in it's own time. They acknowledged it is so easy for them to say and probably so much harder for me to do, but I am finally beginning to see they were right.

The new me is more patient, more relaxed and I am much more selective in how I spend my time. I have over the years wasted time and energy on people and pasttimes that gave little in return. No more (well nearly!).

Like Lynne, I have cast aside friends that took and gave nothing in return. It has left me a little isolated, but one of my personal goals right now is to build new friendships with people who matter. A little challenging when I don't have the energy to go out and meet people but I am sure I will find the opportunities and my life will be richer for it.

I have always been a great believer that experience is what makes us well rounded individuals. This is an experience I did not choose to have, but it is one that has made me a richer person. I have been able to see life from so many different perspectives and also see how shallow life can be if you let it.

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I do not want to go off on another subject but I do know exactly what you mean about needy friends. I have someone that has always been very needy and I've helped her greatly through the years. Felt sorry she was not at the same place in life I was, etc...

After my SAH she not only embarrassed me in the hospital but also needed money to get back home!! I realized she did not come to see out of concern me she came to tell everyone she came to see me. After I was released, I never saw her and then got her feelings hurt when I did not want to talk to her on the phone and posted it all over facebook.

So, what I learned and changed since my SAH is let go of "taking care" of needy people. The more you try to help the more they pull you into their misery and that is not good for recovery.


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Ahh Daff, we shall all gain strength from each other. Other people's strength will become your strength.

Lovely Wem, we are so similar! Friendships and relationships have shifted quite a lot since I had my SAH, I used to get very upset by it but then accepted that there are some things that I can not change.

I do not have the 'spoons' to waste, so am now much more selective with who I spend my time with!

I too am building up friendships again, making time to meet up with people and socialise again as I have really missed that.

I lost a dear friend this year, he died age 41 from a stroke, loosing him made me step back and look at a few things differently. A good thing to come from his passing has been that my path has crossed again with a dear old friend. We are now back in regular contact.

I think that acceptance comes in many different stages and that sometimes you're the only one who can find that acceptance but at other times it's the strength, understanding and encouragement from those closest to us that help us along that journey too.

Take care,

SarahLou Xx

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Boy, I am 27 months post SAH so I am in the new reality of "OH this is how it is going to be". I have drastically cut my work hours, I am hoping to be able soon to have a routine at home and maybe have some sort of hobby. Darn it, can't recall what this thread was about. LOL.

My neurosurgeon said to me yesterday that with any sort of brain injury just like the football players in the news right now one does not know how any of the injuries will affect our brain now or in the future. I liked his honestly. I am becoming better at getting that my life style will be drastically changed soon. The Dr. said yesterday that fibro is very similar ( I just had to get that in here!) you cannot predict when you will over do it or undo as everyday your body and brain reacts differently. But even so you must DO everyday, use it or lose it. SO I am at 3 weeks of being home the majority of the week and am finding my place.

My friends are the same ones I have had, I got a sweet letter with the young gal I share my job with who has taken the brunt of hours. I think I really could not of been bothered with people that were not real way before this happened. But I do like I that I can understand a whole new group of people now.

At home now I am just starting to get oh your are tired go rest, or yes you did a lot yesterday so you can take today off from dragging myself through chores. I am not waiting like I had to do with working to be ready to collapse before I can rest. We shall see! I am already planning a big garden this spring!

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I'm 3 years on and still figuring out who the new me is. Some new things come quite naturally now. Like grabbing my sunglasses, water, and earplugs before I leave the house. Spending anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours laying down every afternoon feels quite normal now.

But there are many times where I have to pause with confusion because I don't know how to move forward. I wish I could stop and do a mental check in with myself but 'myself' doesn't know what all the answers are! If I'm asked to do something (like give a talk for example) after 3pm I'm really thrown off kilter. I want to say yes! The old me would just do it. Or if I've got a couple of tasks on the go and someone asks me to do another and I've only got an hour before I have to leave I get muddled on what to do because there are so many things to figure out. Do I have enough time, can my head manage another task, how do I feel right now - do I need a break, do I know how to do his, will I remember the instructions....

I was saying to someone this week that I'm looking forward to the day when this more complex stuff comes as naturally as knowing when to put my earplugs in. For now I'm still drawing blanks more often than I want to. I suppose the good news here is that my expectations of myself are different and trying to be observant in learning who I am now.

Sandi K.

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This is a great thread!!!

At the end of January, I will hit my 4 year mark.

I wish I could say that I have completely accepted the changes in my life. As Sandi and several others have said,

it's a process. And it does continue, every single day.

While I am certainly in a much happier state than I was even 1 year ago, I still am surprised when I attempt to do something and find that it's beyond my current capabilities. I do try many new things, attempt to meet goals and when I find I cannot complete something, I don't get as upset as I used to - I know that it's just the way it is. It's maybe not what I want, but I guess it really isn't the destination but in fact the journey that really does matter. I repeatedly tell myself, "I am not broken, Im perfect just the way I am." Most of the time I'm good with that. I definitely have my down days and that is probably another given with this new life.

I do have a deeper reverence for life itself, and all that comes with it. My feelings are more intense, I'm more honest with myself and therefore others. I don't want to waste time with negativity and petty things. There are some people who are now gone from my life, and that's as it should be. Yes, it can be sad and isolating at times, but I believe there's a reason for everything. Like so many of you have found, my true friends are still with me and I have met some very wonderful and special people on BGT, who have helped me get to the place I am now :)

Through this site, I've learned to pace myself, set smaller goals (even though in my head I still come up with dreams that are possibly beyond my reach, lol), be kind to myself and to listen to my body. Reading others' stories and how they are coping has also helped me to come to a better understanding and acceptence of myself. I know I'm not alone in this, you all "get it".

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Brilliant thread! Like Winter, I'm coming up to my fourth anniversary (10th Feb) and it's been quite a ride!

It's true, it does take years to get over a SAH - even if you don't want to hear that when you have one. I still don't think I've completely got it sussed. It's very hard to accept your limitations, and who the "new you" is, but I think I'm kinda there. It's more automatic now to turn down invitations or rejig my diary to avoid being overtired. I used to say yes to everything and now I realise I can't. I can't do tai chi at lunchtime AND a volunteer committee meeting in the evening for example... but luckily my friends (and family) understand.

I wish my partner had been able to read a thread like this 4 years ago. We split up about 2 years post-SAH. Lots of reasons of course, but I know he didn't understand how different I was for a while. Unfortunately it was impossible to tell if I'd ever be "back to normal" again, and if so, when. We're still very close, but he's no longer my life partner, which has been tough.

I started working part-time about 1 year post SAH, and 2 years on I started a part-time job. That was reallllly hard at first, because one of my after-effects is problems with speed of processing, and taking on board new information. I've got into quite a routine now, but there are still days when my speech gets a bit slow or I get overwhelmed by paperwork. Oh and of course, there are the days when I say thank you to the cashpoint like this week lol, or get confused by the plot of a film. On the plus side, films are always new to me, even if I've seen them before hahaha.

So if you're new here, take heart. It's going to be ok, it just might be a bit different :D

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Something to add...

I have recently gained another level of being. This creates hardships as well. At first, the post SAH brain didn't allow me to do the things the way I had always done things. Now, my healed parts trick me in that I still think I can't do something that I actually can now.

For instance, I got up from a theatre chair last night and was able to walk steadily down the isle. For the longest time, I haven't been able to do this. My brain has adapted it's thinking to accommodate this state. However, it is once again wrong and I started off like I was going to limp and have weak legs which made me feel really stupid since I didn't have a real limp or weak legs.

It is just as hard this way around and takes just as much brain power to process the incongruity. The only difference is that I am grateful instead of humiliated :)


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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

As usual, I'm coming to this thread very late!

It took me a very long time to get used to the changes. The frustration was very intense at times. I remember saying to my GP one day that I was looking forward to the day when I finally stopped finding things that I can't do anymore. He told me that it was amazing that I had survived at all and I really ought to look at all the things I could do. This helped, although it made me feel like a sulky child.

I have found that practise is everything. I couldn't do the most simple maths to begin with. I found a kiddies app and practised as often as possible. Getting back to work spurred my recovery on for a while. My memory is much improved. Due to practise I can now cook.

Over time, I started find good changes. I am nicer, calmer, more compassionate, less anxious. People like me more, even my partner. I like me more. It might sound very odd, but what worries me is that as time goes on and the improvements continue, will the old me come back? I don't want her back!

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