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Overwhelmed in shops please help

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It is 3 months on Monday since I had my sah followed by coiling 6 days later due to various problems with diagnosis. I now have blind spots in both eyes and I am trying to adjust. However this is making going out very difficult. I get overwhelmed in supermarkets by too much information coming in to my brain. I get dizzy and feel almost detached from everything around me. I feel so so sad right now. Christmas was always my favourite time of year I loved looking at all the decorations in the shops.


i also fear that I won’t be able to do anything with my daughter. She is 6 and I am scared we won’t have those mummy daughter shopping days together in the future. 


Will this ever get better? X

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We cannot give you med advice but 3 months is still early. I would rest and won’t do anything that might upset the brain.  Rest, rest, rest and hydration. Colors and crowds and noises might be too much for the brain. I would call and ask the neuro what they think. 
I m sure there are other xmas traditions you can do and it might just be this year that you can’t shop together. 

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Hi JenniH,


I had exactly the same experience.  It was my first supermarket trip post-SAH and my wife asked me to go and choose a soup or two.  I was completely overwhelmed by the choice and various colours and shapes.  My wife found me in a trance-like state staring at the selection on the shelf.  It was a real eye-opener and it did knock my confidence back. 


Happily I can report that it got better for me and, within a short time of easing myself back into old and familiar routines, supermarkets and other crowded spaces posed no such challenges. Keep positive...I'm sure you and your family will have a great Christmas together after a difficult year.


All the best.


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Hi there


I felt exactly the same - too much noise, too many people, lights were too bright etc.  I feared the same re Christmas with my daughter at the age of 9.  My first Christmas post SAH was 4 months and it was all so overwhelming. You're very early in recovering right now and it all seems so frightening and daunting - I can't promise it will get better as we're all different, but the following year was a lot better and every year since has been great.  


I know it's easier said than done right now, but stay positive.  Can you shop with your daughter in a place or at a time that isn't so busy?  You may not be able to escape the bright lights at this time of year, but if you can find a time and a place that's quieter it may help a little.

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Thank you all for your kind and supportive replies. I know I still have a long journey ahead. I am going through all sorts of emotions right now. I keep torturing myself over not going to hospital when I had the bad headache at bedtime. But I didn’t know how serious it was. Then after visiting the doctor first thing I was sent to sit in a&e for 4 hrs before they did a scan. By which time the bleed did not show. This was the start of 4/5 days trying to get a diagnosis.


I just keep thinking if i had been treated earlier then I may not have had these problems with my vision. Which most likely means I can’t drive and have lost my independence. I’ve been looking forward to my daughter getting to that age when we can start enjoying doing things together and now I feel it’s been taken from me. It’s so so hard to move forward. My partner is very supportive and has been encouraging me to accept and move on. Xx

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Hi Jenni


Please stop torturing yourself over not going to the hospital earlier, it may well not have made any difference to your outcome. A lot of people are misdiagnosed at the start which can cause delays as long as yours. The fact you need to focus on is that you are here and although you have vision problems you can see and hopefully things will get better. I believe you have an ophthalmology review in January? (just trying to remember what you have said in previous posts).


I think we all wonder what would have happened if we had been treated sooner. I was left from 8pm until 4;30am in a hospital side room with worsening hydrocephalus. It wasn't until my husband kicked up a fuss that I was moved to the nearest neuro hospital, I often wonder if my outcome would have been different if I had been treated sooner. However it is what it is, we are here and we need to be able to mourn our old selves and slowly move on.


As others have said it is really early days for you. I was unable to face shopping for a long time, too much over stimulation with all the lights, noise, colours etc - and that was in March! I still struggle shopping, often too noisy and busy but I do go and honestly the Christmas stuff is much better now for me.


I'm sure your little girl realises that her mummy has been unwell and is struggling a bit a the moment. But it will get better you just need to take time and find other ways of doing things. I internet shop a lot now it's just so much easier on the senses. You may find that this year you can't do all the things you want to do with her but hopefully this time next year you will have improved a lot and be able to do them then.


Take it easy and relax, spend some time with cuddles and reading Christmas books together - or looking a the Christmas catalogues so she can chose what she likes (then buy online ;) )


Be kind to yourself, things will get better maybe just not as quickly as you'd like.


Clare xx

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Hi Clare 


i have been reading about inter cranial pressure. I had unbelievable pressure in my head and ears with tinnitus in the first few weeks out of hospital. I was confined to my bed.  I didn’t know if this was unusual or not. I was told I would get headaches for weeks so just put up with the pain. I guess it’s that pressure that caused the loss of vision but I don’t know if there was anything else that could have been done. 


You had hydrocephalus which is very serious. Did you experience any loss of vision? 


I wish i hsd had been more educated on this. 



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Jenni, as a suggestion, many shops, including supermarkets and shopping areas now have quiet times mainly geared up for the autistic, although not exclusively for them. Would it be worthwhile going with your daughter during those times.


I always go to the supermarket early evening when it is much quieter as I cannot cope with crowds and noise easily.

You may have to change your routine a little to suit yourself.

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Hi Jenni,


Another point of view here.  I struggled at the beginning also.  What I did was to plan my shopping so I knew what I was going for before I went. This meant focussing only on those things, going for them and coming away.


I also went in daylight so the Xmas lights didn't feel quite as bright and I wore sunglasses to take off the glare.  I got a few odd looks but it was well worth it.


I went on their least busy day of the week which is usually a Tuesday or Wednesday morning here. It's just in these early days it will be difficult, but as the others say, it will get better.  

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Hi Jenni


Please believe me when I say that your daughter will not care about missing outings to shops and for now you need to give yourself permission to heal, slow everything down and just be here enjoying the now as best you can and to take each day as you can.


Explore different ways to share Christmas with your daughter,go on short frosty walks to get the fresh air and winter sunshine when it fleetingly appears, make mince pies together, make old fashioned paper chains, get partner to drive around looking at xmas decorations and counting trees... these are all things that will still take you effort, still use your energy but won’t have the same cognitive overload that Christmas shopping will take from you early in recovery.


If you do venture to shops avoid weekends, wear sunglasses and ear plugs and limit your time there and rest after. Everywhere will Be busy and noisy an each is an assault to the brain whilst it heals. Do your shopping online!! Better yet give someone else the list this year! 


i understand entirely, you feel you should be able to do this after all it’s  so easy right? but try please to see that right now everything that used to happen previously without much thought and effort has changed as the brain ability to proceed and filter stimulation is a bit bruised and altered from blood going where it should not have been.


Invest your time and energy wisely now and it will pay healing dividends.


Post mine, I had to contend with further surgery , couldn’t drive for 16 months,there was no way I could shop unaided for even longer, absent from work for longer still and That was with me Being rushed into hospital within one hour of mine...and surgery within 3 , that said I was working on what was usually a day off. For sure Had I not worked that day I would not be here. 


Look for the positive if you can, yes you were seen, you were helped and thankfully you are here and home. 2 out of 3 sadly do not make it home. Of the 1in 3 of us that survive a SAH 1/3 of us live with lasting deficits or disability  from the bleed and that is going to take adjustment and it won’t happen fast . 


You can’t change the past, you can only count from now, onwards with curiosity about the possibility of a slightly altered course. 


Go steady , we are with you. 



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