Looking For similar stories that might help

My father was knocked down twenty years ago and was in a coma for two weeks. Thankfully he lived but was never the same again suffering a major brain injury that changed his personality and meant he was no longer able to work.

He went through rehabilitation and was able to live a normal life

As the years went by it got harder and he started suffering depression and was on a number of different tablets. These seemed to work and he had things under control although in the past couple of year it is as if the tablets have stopped working and he slips back into very serious depression. However, he will then come out of the depression and become almost hyper active.

So to give the best example during his depression stage he will be worried about money and then during his hyper stage he spends money like it is going out of fashion.

His GP is trying his best but doesn’t really have a clue who to send him to - they are currently suggesting he might be an alcoholic as he drinks a lot during his hyper stage.

As you can imagine this is very testing for my mum.

I am just wondering if anyone has a similar experiences and perhaps what the solution might be?

Piedpiper, Your fathers story sounds so much like mine its eery, I was hurt 27yrs ago (coma for 2-weeks) I also am trying to figure out what is going on with me as I never felt depressed till lately. I’m not sure how old your father is but I am 58 and I’m starting to think that the natural deteriation of your mind or brain as we all age is the problem. Right now there is no research on people like me and your father that are 20 or 30 years out. I have tried to work and I feel as a man I’m not setting a good example for my kids and I watch my wife as we get older struggle getting up and going to work and it kills me. I don’t know the answer, I do think drinking is not good I quit 20+ years ago cause I knew I didn’t have the brains cells to spare. Your Mom must be a special lady cause I know its not easy for my wife, cant help but think she would be better off without me. Lately as I age I try and be thankful for what I have but as I’m sure your father feels bills ect. and the fact that as a man before I got hurt I could work two jobs if needed and take care of my family. That is very hard on men from my generation. Anyway sorry for rambling, I wish I knew the answer but its sounds like your Dad is lucky in that he has kids and a wife that care. Good luck to you and your family.

Hi John. My dad is now 63 so perhaps you are right and it is a natural age thing. Obviously you know exactly what he is going through because everything you are saying is exactly what my dad has said to me in the past. My dad can actually stop drinking when he wants - not drinking at the moment - but like you say he can’t handle it as well as he did before the accident.

The difficult thing for us to get our head around is when he is in his hyper stage he doesn’t care that he can’t work - although when he is in his depressed stage like you he feels he is letting the family down.

Your wife does sound like a special person like my mum. Hopefully you, like my dad, both realize that they would never be better off without you.

As daft as it sounds good to know we are not alone out there with our tribulations. Hopefully someone will come on and give us the solution.


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My brain injury is 43 years old and for me my mental connections go haywire more quickly. I cannot tolerate lots of information, as I become overwhelmed and then I feel violated. The difficulty is I have a fear of being overwhelmed and powerless. This fear will convince me I cannot cope with people or practical life. Then if I seek sanctuary in my mind, while watching the world in my growing anxiety and then fear taints my thoughts. I become disconnected with the real and I become cut off from the world. I then feel there is nothing to hold on to or believe in and then I shrink into my self-created prison of “nothingness.”

From my experience, nothingness is horror and it feels like the fear is fulfilled. “I was afraid that was going to happen.” Also when fear and nothingness are fulfilled it makes me feel I have no choices. When I have no choice this feeds my depression and my rage becomes directed inward. So to your Father, I suspect he is feeling certain fears are being fulfilled and he may even feel overwhelmed with anxiety. He may feel if he runs out of stimulation, of things to have and to do, something terrible will happen. He may feel this “nothingness” and this hole will consume him.

I suspect this fear is locked up in every cell in his body and locked up in cellar memory. This fear is unconscious to him and unknown territory for him. He may feel he will be swallowed up by it and what use to feel solid now may feel not solid enough. He may feel he needs to save himself from this unconscious dread engulfing him, as this unconsciousness is breaking into consciousness through his cells in his body. The worst part about cellar anxiety is this terror is unnameable, which is extremely difficult to deal with or resolve. So in a sense your Father wants increasing experiences and stimulation and yet the drugs have not taught him to get in touch with himself.

This depression and obsession serves a purpose, as it appears to express unconscious means of dealing with anxiety. It is a way of trying to gain control over himself and re-repress his anxiety. He could become a lightning rod in his destructive impulses and if manic defense does not work he may become even more depressed. So my suggestion is to listen to your Father’s physical energy and especially listen to physical anxiety or agitation. Find ways to validate this anxiety, such as expressing, “Dad you appear overwhelmed with anxiety.” You could ask, if this anxiety is terrifying? Is it unnamable? Your point is to help your Father release the anxiety pinned up in his cells of his body. You could also validate ordinary experiences as being satisfying. Your aim to help him find stability and security in his normal day to day life.

Try to make your validation respectful and try to stay away from giving him advice. It is just a process of centering him and teaching him how to more profoundly penetrate his life and allowing life to penetrate him. Validating his feelings is teaching the cells to have a sense of wonder and shifting from a sense of anxiety. Physical therapy and massage may work, yoga and swimming may help, or just look for creative ways to help him release pinned up anxiety. Your creative ways and validation is to help him make contact with life beyond the surface of life. It is teaching his body and his brain to feel awake, sober and in clear contact with his immediate experiences. A quiet satisfaction and the quality of awareness is what I am suggesting you teach him and validate an unshakable inner peace.

Also this fear, terror and anxiety is in everyone and it just more pronounced with people who have a head injury. It is overwhelming and we feel overwhelmed with anxiety. The cells in the body remember and for some reason it seems to make us defensive and impulsive. So in a sense your validation to your Father will validate your own anxiety and should help you feel more stable. I suggest you listen to your own anxiety, validate yourself and feel your kinship with your Father and every human being. In a sense you may feel how you are tapping your inner springs of courage ---- trust in yourself and real trust for your Father. In a certain way it is unlocking cellar memory of this painful anxiety and learning to draw from the moment.

Thanks Syd. Will give it a try


Just for fun, a book that may give you meaning is called “Hope for the Flowers” by Trina Paulus. It is a kid’s book but offers this deep meaning and it might stimulate creativity in you for your Father. Your Father might find an ecstasy in it beyond words and feelings. Also from this you both may find your own creativity and the essential goodness in life. (“Consider the lilies of the field …. they toil not, neither do they spin.”) Creativity seems to help us embrace life and helps to calm or center the cells into the moment. Creativity, like this book “Hope for the Flowers”, seems to help these unconscious experiences because art makes us instantly aware of, and immediately respond to, life. And thanks for being open and wanting to support your Father.