A member talked about losing friends after a brain injury and asked me the question: “Can concussion affect relationships?” I "loved" this question because I dealt with this for so long, and I know many people do. In this blog, I will tell your more about my experience.
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Can concussions affect relationships?
This is a question I never thought about in my first year. It was all about surviving, and it all felt so temporary. I always thought that when I am better, I can continue with all relationships like before.
So, I tried to hold on to friends, even the ones who didn’t understand or didn’t even try to understand how I felt. Why should I let go of them? Within a few months, I would be the old me, and we could go out again, go to festivals, dinners, and so on. Yeah right!
This wasn’t the case.
Read my other blog: How does a concussion affect you socially - my experience: Click here.
Losing friends after a brain injury
For a long time, I stuck to the idea that it was all temporary and that I would be the old me soon. I tried to hold onto every friendship, also those that didn’t serve me in my healing process.
My life before the injury was very social. I loved to go out for dinners, drinks or festivals on the weekend. So did my friends. Most friendships were a bit more superficial and talking about deeper subjects wasn’t something I did with most of them.
Some were just there to share our love for festivals and have fun, but when things became difficult, and it wasn’t all about partying or having fun anymore, they didn’t know how to act. They kept silent.
What happens to relationships after a brain injury? I realized some aren’t my real friends.
The people who were only there in my first weeks after the injury stopped texting me when things took longer. When I still wasn’t feeling any better after months, I realized who my real friends were. So, can concussions affect relationships? YES, DEFINITELY.
Some people only texted me to ask me out, didn’t ask how I was doing, didn’t even try to understand.
Over time, I noticed they didn’t ask me anymore because they already knew I would say no. Some people asked me, “Can you hang out with friends with a concussion?” Yes, you can, but I wanted to meet at my place because going to public places was sometimes just too much. There were always music, a lot of traffic, and more people, and I just couldn’t handle that.
But visiting me at home was only a thing they did once in my first week, and then it was like I disappeared from their lives. It made me sad at the time.
When you’re at home, you have all the time to reflect on your relationships.
Realizing most people (“friends”) weren’t my real friends was very hard. Did I never mean more to them than just some company to party with? I think so.
I struggled with this a lot when I was home for months (and years). In the beginning, it felt very lonely, but in the end, I realized it was also a blessing to learn who your real friends are.
I don’t want people in my life who don’t really care about me and only there when life is fun, and everything is going well.
I didn’t realize that I had so many friends who expected this crazy positive “everything is awesome” attitude that I must have had before the accident.
Over time, things did change – but I didn’t want to wait until I was the old me again.
Holding on to something that didn’t serve me anymore was making me sad and it causes even more stress for my brain. I was “waiting” for so long to become the old me again, but I was done with waiting, and I didn’t want my friends to wait, only wanted the old me.
I wasn’t the old me anymore, and maybe I would never become that person again. How long should I wait? I’d already been waiting for 2 two years. Something needed to change.
Holding on to everyone who doesn’t serve me anymore did cost a lot of energy, and it was really holding back my recovery. So, I realized losing friends after a brain injury is sometimes needed to move forward.
I was done with the acting part.
So many times, I tried to act like nothing was going on, just seeing them sometimes for lunch but totally out of energy when I came home. They just asked how I was doing and then continued about their lives, about parties and everything that was so much fun.
It made me feel even worse. I heard about all the fun things I couldn’t do anymore, and they didn’t seem to care.
When I told them I wasn’t feeling well, they just said: It takes time, but you will get back to your old life. That’s it.
They never asked how I was really feeling; they never visited me at my home, they never did things like helping me make dinner or text me to see if I was okay.
I just couldn’t keep up with this “life is all about having fun” attitude, and one day I came home and decided something really need to change.
I wanted to get better, but this wasn’t helping at all, and I wasn’t even enjoying it.
My “old friends” didn’t seem to fit in my new life anymore.
So, after two years, I decided it was time to put my health first and only meet with people who gave me energy.
It was better being home alone than surrounded by people who didn’t really care and only cost you energy. So, I let go of all the people who were more like my “party” friends.
I didn’t want to get reminded about everything I was missing; I didn’t want them in my life anymore.
Sounds maybe a bit drastic, but when you’ve been feeling like this for more than a year, let’s say two years, there is a moment when you’re just done with it.
Right now, I still have a few people in my life.
I get that question often: “What happens to relationships after a brain injury?” Well… the people who are in my life right now are my real friends. I also became my own best friend (sounds cliché, haha) but so true! I love my me time more than being with people who were holding back my recovery.
For a long time, I thought, what if I get better and don’t have friends to “celebrate” with? But I do understand that when I feel better, I want to celebrate with REAL friends who are happy for me, not just people who were happy to have some company at a party.
I changed a lot - Personal development & different interests
I also noticed I changed a lot. When I was at home, I was into personal development, reading/listening to books, diving into spirituality, and way more. But these friends were still the same (like I was before the accident), and it felt like they didn’t fit in my new life anymore.
I discovered a life without all the partying, dinners, housewarmings, birthdays, and drinks. And I enjoyed this life even more. I felt more connection with people who were also interested in yoga, spirituality, and personal development. People with whom I could dive deeper into some subjects than just talk about yesterday’s party.
I think you already know my answer to the question: can concussions affect relationships? For sure, you will change, but maybe your friends won’t. You’ll realize your interests will change, and you are maybe a whole new person looking for other things in life.
It all takes time
It takes time to realize who doesn’t fit your new you anymore and who does. Losing friends after a brain injury can also feel scary. Maybe there is a fear of being all alone. But in my experience, every time you close a door, a new one will open. Even a better one.
What do you do when you’re not going out like you used to?
The old me thought the only things you could do with friends wass go out to restaurants, bars and festivals. Haha!
There are way more (quiet) activities that I enjoy a lot right now:
Going to the sauna
Getting a massage / facial or any other beauty treatment
Going to the sand dunes, the beach, or a park
Doing a fun workshop (photography, painting, tea, cooking)
Going to yoga classes
Going for a walk in nature
Travelling (not to overwhelming places)
Camping in nature
Stand up paddleboarding
I hope you see that losing friends after a brain injury is not a negative thing. Concussions can affect your relationships with friends, but so many other new people can cross your path, and you will discover new activities and a whole new life.
Not being the old you don’t mean you will never have a life that doesn’t serve you anymore. It can also be the other way around.
What if you discover the life that really is meant to be your life with the people who really care about you?
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