Posted on March 28, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Elizabeth

TBI Mood Swings: Elizabeth Part Nine

While still largely a frontal lobe issue, her TBI mood swings and social issues fit into a bit different category of pathology. Her TBI moods swings are not only severe, but can be totally unpredictable. She explains:

I can be sitting here talking and having a good time when we get our TBI together. It’s so wonderful to sit with other people because they understand me and I understand them but doing things like with my mom or my in-laws at all or nieces or nephews or somebody that you truly love and care about as far as family and I can be talking like this with them and understanding and I don’t know if it’s a look; I, I have no idea what it is but some days it’s like one word, and, and it could be a good word. It could be how you doing or whatever and it’s like snap and that’s the part that I don’t understand and it’s gotten worse. I can turn everything around; apparently in my brain it all turns around.

TBI Mood Swings and Marriage

She was asked what the biggest problems are in her marriage and she answers with a smile: “Me.” What she really seemed to mean was her TBI mood swings.

I’ve got to take one step at a time 24 hours a day but when I snap and lose it, he is right there and he tells me to sit down, calm down. Okay, what’s doing this to you? Why are you mad? Why are you mad at me? Why are you yelling? What did – you know, what’s got you going? You know, and he will sit down with me and try to get me to calm down and understand what made me do it; why did I do it.

Th Husbands Take on TBI Mood Swings

On the question of her TBI mood swings and social problems, her husband had this to say:

She’s not the same woman I married. She gets frustrated real easy. She doesn’t understand a lot of basic everyday things that people take for granted, you know, just how to cook a meal or to follow instructions. She’ll have to look at it continuously instead of just reading and doing it, and helping her control her emotions. Basically she gets, like I said, frustrated. It’s just, she didn’t ask for this accident to happen, nobody does, but I think she tries to do the best that she can but she still needs, you know, support to, to help her through just the basic things in life.

In contrast to the upbeat lady we interviewed, every day life isn’t like that because of her TBI mood swings.

She’s not that upbeat. She really looked forward to doing this today because she wants to help other people. She’s a very caring person, but most of the time she is worried about what other people think of her more than what she would normally, I would think a normal person would, I would say think or care about. She gets, self-esteem I guess would be the biggest issues. She worries about what, more about what other people think about her.

She feels incompetent or that people are going to think less of her because in her words, they’re going to think I’m stupid, is what she tells me; they’re going to think I’m stupid, and I’m like no they’re not, but that really weighs on her, you know?

I think she worries too much. I think that’s her, her, really her biggest issue, is she worries. How are things going to get paid for, the biggest thing is, that she really worries about. I tell her not to worry about it, we’ll get through it. And she’s well we’ve got to have money for, to pay this bill or to pay that bill and I says, it’ll come out in the end, you know it does, and it does. But she still continues to worry about it, even though I tell her not to.

Eizabeth’s Take on Her TBI Mood Swings

She agrees with his assessment of her TBI mood swing issues.

If somebody said something I could take it the wrong way and not understand it the right way, and so for no reason I’d snap. I guess snap’s a good word. Kind of yell, scared, afraid, so I’d kind of take everything out that way.

She believes that help with her TBI mood swings are the most important assistance she can get from this point on:

Just more, more mental, excuse me, more mental to, to try to keep things right in my head and as far as me understanding things and trying very hard not to snap and lose it. And that’s why I’ve got my doctors and my counselor and, and my hubby. I, I need to sit down take it like an eighth grader, little kid. I need to sit down and take a time out, let my mind clear, kind of I guess try to forget everything and then come back and one step at a time.

Most of the time it (has helped) and the only thing I’m snapping with lately – I’m hoping I’m right but I could be wrong – at least hopefully we’ll find out soon and then hopefully I can try to turn things back in the right direction again – is stress, nerves, fear. Those are the top ones.

TBI Support Group Helps TBI Mood Swings Issue


Her work with her TBI support group and doing things like our interview, seem to help her with her TBI mood swings.

You know, and there’s, there’s a lot of people that I do know that have injuries that their husband left them; their wife left them and with the TBIs a lot of people don’t understand them but the wonderful things that you do and that all of us together try to do is help each other out and get as far as we can possibly go.

And that’s to the good and that’s – you know, you, you’ve got family members or a good close friend that they knew you before and they know you now which is after it and they’re still there. They, they understand it and they may ask questions to, to neurologists, to other people too and try to understand it but there are people in our support group that understand you better than you think a doctor would some days because they’re dealing with it every day too.

They both committed lots of time and personal energy to taking part in TBI Voices. What he hopes will be the take away from his interview for other TBI spouses:

Don’t give up. Patience, patience and more patience. Try and understand what you would be like put in that position, and try and look back at it that way, you know, what would I feel like. Asking, not having to ask but expecting help, and if you don’t get it, what would that feel like? That’s what I think about, what would that feel like.

TBI mood swing issues are one of the most troubling aspects of accommodating for brain injury. While environmental, pain and reactive emotional issues account for much of the problem, there are also organic issues that can make the meltdowns totally unpredictable. While much is still unknown about the irritations to the cerebral cortex that account for this, it is clear that mood responses can far exceed what the brain injured person has the capacity to control.

Elizabeth Explains How TBI Mood Swings Can Come Out of Nowhere

As Elizabeth said towards the end of our interview:

They don’t know and, and that’s the one thing that you can hopefully learn and help other people with TBIs is it can be anybody and they can be having a great day and all of a sudden they can turn around and snap. Something hits them the wrong way.

In our final chapter of Elizabeth’s story, I will postulate an explanation for the quandary of the more severe result from the milder injury.

Next in Part Ten – Puzzle of Greater Disability from Mild Second Brain Injury

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447