Posted on April 19, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 10 of 14 in the series Gina

Brain Injury Mood and Emotional Problems: Gina Part Ten

While Gina’s doctors weren’t interested in hearing about brain injury mood emotional problems, we are. I asked her to elaborate on her brain injury mood problems:

I think the biggest problem I have is I’m flat. I guess I don’t have, I don’t feel like I have emotions either way. I rarely feel completely happy about everything or feel like joy or anything at all. I’m just flat one way or another and I don’t show emotions.

Are you depressed because of your brain injury mood problems?

I am, I have been right along. I know I have but I also have issues with my insurance company and I find that it’s, I probably don’t, I don’t like, they have tried me on several different anti-depressant drugs and it seems like when I go on that, I’m on other drugs to keep the headaches away basically. I got thyroid problems now because of that. I’ve got a lot of other things that it seems like then when the anti-depressants are added into the whole mix, it screws up other stuff so it’s kind of like I’ve played like what’s the lesser of two evils? So I deal with the depression. It’s not the depression so deep that I’m suicidal. I don’t feel any true joy or happiness or I’m flat. I just feel like emotionally I’m flat. There’s just nothing either way.

Gina’s husband sees the brain injury mood problems and depression as well.

She has gone through periods of depression. She struggles with it and she’s a very independent person so it’s hard for me to intervene with that a lot but she does have a lot of struggles that she does share, she keeps bottled up. (Before) she would share her feelings and what was going on and if she was having a bad day or whatnot. Now she tries to sugar coat a lot of the problems that she is having.

Gina sees anger problems as one of her brain injury mood problems in herself:

I think anger comes through more than anything and I will get angry over nothing and it flashes like that and all you have to do – I mean and I don’t know. I don’t know what sets my off.

I don’t think it’s seizures. It could be but a lot of it is. I notice a lot of the anger is if I am extremely tired. By the end of the week, I will be more tired than anything and, and if I have plans, like say tonight I’m tired and if I don’t get to go home and just kind of decompress or go no, no computers, no TV, just complete silence, if I don’t get to do that, I, I don’t, I shouldn’t say I’m going to lose control but I’m not going to last at that party very long. My husband and I have learned a lot of times to take separate vehicles.

Crowds Cause Brain Injury Mood Problems

Gina also has anxiety problems as one of her brain injury mood issues, especially in crowds, another common complaint from TBI survivors. She explains:

Yes, I cannot handle crowds at all. Its more anxiety (than anger) with crowds. One thing that I feel like people, I’ve got this thing, people should move at my pace when I’m in a crowd and if they’re going slower, I get irritated and if I can’t get around them or if they’re going faster and I feel like they’re crowding in on my space, I get frustrated.

Like I said, I think it’s more anxiety but like for instance, we were in New York City about a year and a half ago and we had tickets to the Lion King and of course that’s down near Times Square and the place was so crowded that I actually started hyperventilating over the crowd because I felt closed in and I don’t like people getting in my personal space. My husband was with me luckily saw that I was having problems and pulled me off, out of the crowd onto a side street. Got me breathing, got me you know moving, getting down a little bit.

We have already gotten where I have been at Disney World and the crowd has gotten so much where I, I don’t think I’ve said things inappropriately completely but it’s just like oh, I’ve said oh, come on a couple of times to people or excuse me and my husband just says the way I’m saying it is rude.

Is it the personal, invasion of the personal space, the bumping, the noise, the, all of the visual distractions that causes your brain injury mood problems?

It’s the noise and the bumping, that’s the biggest thing. If we are at, we’ve gone to a few concerts and I generally have learned that I can’t take flashing lights or strobes or anything like that so we, I avoid doing that and I, that’s – something I miss I guess from my old life is, I would go to a lot of that. I used to be into WWE wrestling of all things and in fact I’ve gone to a couple of wrestle manias and I was perfectly fine. I loved the whole fan fare. I know it’s not, I know it’s entertainment.

The last time I went to a wrestling, when they came into town, I actually had to leave because the, we were too close to where the pyrotechnics were and the loud noise and the pyrotechnics and the lights, I got to the point where I can’t handle this. It was anxiety I think more than anger. I wasn’t angry at anyone. It was more, I’ve learned, I have to remove myself from the situation and I don’t think we completely left, I think I was with my dad and my son and I think my dad got me out of there and we left my son in the seat but he was 15 at the time. Old enough to stay there for a little bit and I never went back in to see the rest of the show. My dad did and I just stayed out, kind of off to myself.

Her husband corroborates the brain injury mood issue she has with crowds:

We were out in New York City about a year ago and we were going to Times Square. It was the evening and it was real crowded and she was like I just got to get out of here and so we just took one of the side streets and just kind of got out of the big crowded area. She even just in grocery stores and what not, you know, crowded and she loses her temper a little bit with crowds and people.

What’s it like to deal with other people’s anger with your brain injury mood issues? She answers:

You know, my husband is the biggest one that I will, I’ll detach myself. Anyone starts with the anger or starts I feel like yelling at me or what, I’ll detach myself and just walk away. I won’t, I won’t fight. I will, the only thing I will fight with believe it or not is my insurance company. That’s the only ones. I did get upset with a couple different doctors but you know what? I’ll just go elsewhere. I will – that’s about the only fight I have in me but I feel like if I don’t do it, I’m going to get run over.

Dealing with Brain Injury Mood Problems at Work

What about angry customers at work? How do you deal with them with your brain injury mood problems?

You know I’m pretty good about that. My biggest thing is just calming them down. I’ll write down, if they’ll write down their problems or try to just repeat this is what the problem is. This is what you think. I’m, I actually think I’m pretty good at it because I rarely, I’ve only had a few instances where somebody is just swearing at me. I’ve been called names and I calmly actually say, I’m sorry but I am not listening to you calling my, calling me names and if you want to talk about this, that’s fine but you call me one more name, I’m hanging up and I have done that.

She freely discusses brain injury mood problems she has maintaining the same level of intimacy with her husband as she had before her injury and her brain injury mood issues.

Yeah, that has more or less – I force myself pretty much. Again it’s the flat. I just kind of force myself to do, you know.

Her husbands thoughts her brain injury mood issues  are helpful. He said:

I think that’s probably one of the biggest things that’s changed in our relationship is we don’t have that bonding, that together like we used to. We’re still together. I love her but it’s not like it’s – we don’t plan time together like we used to. We’re off doing our own thing.

Next in Part Eleven – Current Cognitive Functioning

About the Author

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