SWM in search of anyone! I am a 30-something male who sustained a brain injury a number of years ago and my biggest "handicap" is my lack of success with women. Why don't they like me? Pat, I need a date -- please advise!
You are not alone. In fact, I myself have experienced some of the more unsavory aspects of modern-day socializing (including the highly coveted "blind date"). When it comes to successful socializing, the place to begin is with yourself. Take a look at the checklist below as you gaze into the mirror.
* Do you maintain attractive hygiene habits (daily showers, shaving, brushing teeth, etc.)?
* How’s your haircut?
* Are you in healthy physical shape (daily exercise of some type, sensible diet, good posture, etc)?
* Do you make the most of your appearance (clean clothes, ladies: a little makeup maybe)?
* Is your manner friendly and confident (speaking clearly, looking at the person whom your are addressing, head up, shoulders back)?
* What activities are you participating in, or what interests are you cultivating? Take a class at the local recreation center, build models, volunteer, work at a job that challenges you, call talk shows, at least read the daily newspaper.
* Are you conversational? Do not focus conversations solely on your injury and disability. Discuss your opinions, talents, and other experiences, as well.
* Are you a slave to fads? Tattoos, unsightly piercings, metallic nail polish, thongs -- avoid them!
My point is that once you take a good look at yourself and become someone you like, then others are more likely to be attracted to you. We all gravitate towards positive, self-respecting, courteous people and avoid negative, self-obsessed, insensitive people. Work hard to be the former; don’t even consider behaving like the latter.
The next skill you need to develop is a true interest in other people. When you interact with others, ask them questions about their interests, their jobs, families, hobbies, favorite movies, most hated fads, ..... Pretend you are a news reporter and it’s your job to casually interview another person so that you can profile that person in a story. (Don’t get too personal.) Try not to show an interest in someone just so that you can assess her dating potential. Make it your goal to become a "people person" who likes to learn about others without the expectation of personal gain. Again, this will make you very attractive.
Lastly, seek friends in places where you would like to be sought out. Do you like to read? Attend an author’s lecture and book signing event. Are you a painter? Take an art class at the university. Do you like reptiles? Work in an aquarium. Are you more comfortable with a woman who has had a brain injury? Seek out the social groups for people with brain injuries in your town. The department of parks and recreation may offer classes and social opportunities for people with disabilities, as well. You want to meet people who share your interests, so go where they go.
Take heart, dating isn’t easy for anyone except sociopaths. Pat knows you can do it, so put away the Fudge Ripple and take a fragrant bubble bath.
My partner (I’m a police officer) suffered a brain injury. He sustained frontal lobe damage. Just looking at him, you would think he’s OK, but he has so many mental problems which he finds difficult to deal with. This man is like a brother to me, and I want so much to help him, but I don’t know how. I try to be there for him when he feels bad but I don’t know what to do. I might be asking an impossible question, but how can I help him? How can I make him feel better? (I wish it were me instead of him)
Pat is moved by your compassion. I imagine your friend is, as well. You probably have no idea what a strength you are to him. It is unusual for someone with a brain injury and resulting psychological problems to maintain significant friendships -- most people like this eventually end up alone. Your solid, compassionate friendship is probably the most valuable help you can give him.
It is very common for someone with frontal lobe damage to experience severe personality changes, as well as difficulty controlling their own emotions and behavior. Depression is common, as a result of actual changes in the brain, as well as a natural reaction to the trauma of the injury and its consequences. While you can do little to change your friend’s behavior, you can help by conveying that solid compassion to him in many ways:
* Communicate in simple, direct, understandable terms;
* Be consistent in the way you treat him;
* Repeat things as much as necessary;
* Help create an environment that is calm and nurturing -- not over-stimulating;
* Promote opportunities for success;
* Listen to and respond to your friend;
* Be patient and non-critical;
* Do fun things together often;
* Promote opportunities for success;
* Listen to and review each day as a new beginning -- don’t dwell in yesterday or tomorrow. Finally, if you think your friend needs help that he is not getting, assist him in finding a good therapist who understands brain injury. A neuropsychologist who counsels men or possibly runs a support group for people with brain injuries would be a good start. Your state Brain Injury Association has brain injury support groups, as well. Perhaps you could attend a meeting or two with your friend to get him started.
I am a high school student. A friend of mine, who is 18, sustained a serious brain injury in a skiing accident. I understand that he has made a good recovery and the biggest problem right now is his emotional functioning (he thinks all the nurses want a relationship with him). In the next few days I will be visiting him and I am wondering how I should approach this. What should I talk to him about? Thinking longer term, what can I do to help him in his recovery? Several of my other friends and I are going to the same college, which is where he had planned to attend -- should I expect him to join us? If not, what can I do to help this person not feel abandoned?
You actually have posed an easy question. The best thing you can do to help your friend throughout his recovery is to be a consistently supportive presence in his life. While he is hospitalized, visit when you can. Even if a person is comatose, it can help to talk to him, let him touch his favorite teddy bear, let him smell his favorite lavender oil, play his favorite Puff Daddy tape. In other words, create an environment that gently stimulates his senses and reminds him of everyday life. This is comforting to someone in the hospital.
When your friend comes home from the hospital, he will face a difficult adjustment period as he reorients himself to his home, school, friends, etc. He may not be able to do some of the things he did before the injury (e.g., driving a car). He may feel and act different because his brain is different -- it has been injured so it will control his body in a new way. By visiting him regularly and just being yourself, you can help make the transition a little easier. Your friend may have lost the ability to do some things; he may lose friends that move on without him; he may lose opportunities he had counted on before the injury -- your enduring friendship will become one of the most important things in his life. By accepting the person he has become since the injury, you will help him accept himself and move forward.
So, to summarize, visit your friend, talk about yourself, ask him how he is doing, listen, don't be afraid to talk to him about the injury and how it has affected him, take him out with your other friends, help him set new goals for himself and support him in his endeavors. Lastly, keep reminding yourself and your friend that recovery from brain injury can take a long time; give him time to get better and try to stay positive.
Six months ago, I had a serious brain injury and have been unable to return to work. I recently found out that my husband is having an affair. I want to confront him, but I am worried about what happens if he leaves me. I’m not sure I can take care of everything on my own.
A place to start may be simply asking him how he feels about you, whether he is satisfied in the marriage, and what he would like to see change to make things better. Talking to your husband about these issues may give you an indication of how he will react if you confront him, and whether he wants to work on the marriage. It will also give you a better idea of how he feels and whether you think the marriage is worth saving.
Before you make a decision about what to do, you need to remember that you are an important, valuable person who deserves to be treated with respect. The second thing to is to remember that you won’t be alone. Your family, friends, neighbors, or religious community are likely sources of support. You are not alone and you won’t be alone no matter what happens. People will be there to support and help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Ultimately, you will have to make a choice. You really only have two choices.
Seek a divorce
Try to work it out
If you want to seek a divorce, you should consult an attorney before you confront your husband. You need to know your rights and how to protect yourself legally. Don’t just leave the house before consulting an attorney –especially if you have children. In many states, this is considered "abandonment" and can hurt you in court. Seriously consider whether you really want a divorce.
You will also want to talk to family and friends about the type of help and support you’ll need. Find people who will help you around the house or provide transportation. Finding a therapist that specializes in divorce is often a good idea. Many people benefit from talking to an expert about how to adjust to life after divorce. If you have children, consider arranging for family sessions for them to discuss their feelings about the marital separation. Talk to your doctor, therapist or counselor about what resources may be available to assist you should you need them.
If you want to work it out, you have to tell him you suspect an affair. Doing nothing won’t make it go away. You will need marital therapy. Very few couples can resolve the anger, feelings of betrayal and lack of trust on their own. Consider the quality of the marriage before his affair. Affairs can be a symptom of long-standing marital problems, not the cause. Were there problems adjusting following the injury or did problems exist before you were hurt? Is the relationship worth salvaging? How long has it been since you felt the marriage was strong? Was it strong before you got hurt? Remember, if you decide to work it out, you will have to be prepared to work toward forgiveness. Both of you will have to work hard to regain trust, intimacy, and commitment.
If you want to work it out, the hardest part will be facing the possibility that your spouse might not. The thing to remember here is that if he doesn’t, your marriage isn’t going to improve anyway. Talking to him is the only way to find out if he’s willing to try. You may want to consider talking to a therapist about your dilemma. A therapist can help you decide how to approach your husband, and how to cope with things if he decides he doesn’t want the marriage any more. Either way, it won’t be an easy road.
A good man is hard to find. Too bad a bad man isn’t.
I have a friend who was in an accident over a year ago. He says he had a brain injury and now uses this as an excuse to abuse his wife and the people around him. I do believe that people suffer from brain injuries, but I also know this person’s reputation for conning money from others. Is there physical evidence involved in the diagnosis of brain injury or do the doctors just go by the patient’s reported symptoms? We have been told that all of his inappropriate behavior is not his fault and is due to medications and injury, but what I fail to understand is that he is the exact same person he was before the accident. Only now he is suing for a lot of money and he has the doctor’s support. Help! We don’t understand.
Why are you friends with a wife-abusing con artist? Seriously, if his "abuse" is physical, it is a crime and he should not be allowed to continue harming other people. Even if his "abuse" is just verbal, why are you, his wife and "others" continuing to put up with it? Having a brain injury is not a license to treat people badly.
Regarding the "evidence." Sometimes there is physical evidence you can see with brain imaging (CT, MRI). However, sometimes the effects of injury cannot be directly observed and doctors use patient and family reports of symptoms and neuropsychological testing (tests of things like memory and attention) to gauge the effects of injury. Can people lie? Yes. Can they fake injury effects? If they know what to fake and how to fake it, it could be done. Is it easy to fool a good, well trained medical professionals? No. But it can and does happen. Doctors are fallible just like all of us.
It is also not uncommon for an injury to cause someone who had pre-existing problems with anger management or impulse control to get worse. Frustration resulting from memory or attention problems, physical pain, or mood swings can contribute to making an already angry and aggressive person even more angry and aggressive.
The thing to remember is that you don’t know what the medical professionals know. You probably don’t know his medical history, medial records or the results of medical tests. Unless you’ve talked directly to his doctors, you don’t even know exactly what he has been told because you are getting information second hand. Also, keep in mind that if this is litigated, there will likely be professionals on the other side that will scrutinize things very carefully to be sure he really has suffered an injury and to challenge his doctors’ findings. Unless the opposing side just settles the case, this person may have to undergo several evaluations and depositions. Also, if the accident wasn’t his fault, he may be legally entitled to some reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering even if his injuries didn’t cause his angry, aggressive behavior.
Probably the best thing for you to do is not to worry too much about it and avoid spending lots of time with someone who isn’t pleasant to the people around him. Hopefully the system will work for the best. Most of the time it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.
My life is in a rut. I do the same thing every day and see the same few people. Life is so dull and lacks luster. Plus, it's been three years since I had a head injury and I haven't been out on a date since. At first, I was too busy getting well to worry about dating. I didn't know what the future had in store for me. Over time, I've found out that I don't have as much in common with the people I used to have as good friends. I'm trying to think of ways to meet new people (maybe even someone special) and to find different activities that are more in line with who I am today. Help!
Could this be a case of the "winter blahs" or something more terminal like "love sickness?" Either way, you are not alone. We all experience times in our lives that seem a little too familiar and routine. Are you ready to make some changes, shake off the snow, crawl out of hibernation, etc.? If so, read on…
First, give yourself some credit for taking the time to get better after your injury. Reliable schedules and familiar people make the recovery time easier for most people. Second, Pat suggests you take stock in your life. What other areas may need a make-over (besides your love life)? When was the last time you picked up a new hobby, tried a different sport, took a class, or went to the library and browsed the aisles? These types of activities not only improve the "inner" you, but also increase your exposure to new ideas and people. When you broaden your range of interests, you increase the chances others will be interested in you! Third, you may want to consider ways to accentuate your outward appearance as well. Ask yourself (and answer) these types of questions to see where you could improve your "people skills."
* Would others consider you a warm and friendly person?
* Are you a good listener and show interest in the other person during conversations?
* Do you make the most of your appearance (neat haircut, clean clothes, big smile)?
If you're kind to yourself, cultivate new interests, and appear approachable, you are well on your way to being a good friend to yourself and someone else. Good Luck!
I’ve recently re-entered the dating scene after 4 years of absence. I had a brain injury in 1998 and lost my girlfriend soon after. It really hurt that she didn’t stay with me. I was pretty mad and had a hard time trusting people for a while. I’m completely over her now, but I am afraid of dating someone new. I don’t think anyone would really want me because of my head injury. I get embarrassed easily and can’t think of the right words to say all the time. I don’t want them to think I’m dumb, so I usually avoid being around a lot of people.
After many weeks of pestering me, my older brother finally talked me into going on a date with a family friend. I thought the date went great. We went out to dinner and then to a bar, partying until 2 a.m. I told her all about my ex-girlfriend, how she left me high and dry after the accident, and how long it’s been since I’ve been out on a date. We talked for hours about my brain injury and what I went through getting better. I took her home, but she wouldn’t give me a goodnight kiss. When I tried to call her the next day, she wouldn’t even talk to me. I left messages, but she hasn’t returned my phone calls. What do I do now?
-- Dating Dud
Sounds like you two had quite a night! Without being a fly on the wall (or in your soup), it’s hard for me to guess what went wrong on your dinner date. I do know that you are not the only person to have ever felt confused after a date. Years of reading letters from brain injury survivors about this topic have certainly been educational for me. Dating can be a complicated process for anyone, but it may be especially hard for someone recovering from a brain injury. Let me share with you some ideas from “Pat’s Secrets of Dating after a Brain Injury.”
Remember, dating can be complex with many “rules” to make things go more smoothly. Next time you ask someone out for a date, choose a person you are truly interested in knowing better. Good luck on all your future dating adventures!