Losing friends after stroke
People who have suffered a brain injury often find that friends disappear quickly. Some find it too difficult to cope with hospitals and rehabilitation phases, while others may have simply have been ‘fair weather’ friends. In other cases, personality changes or challenging behaviours can drive friends away.
The families caring for someone with a brain injury may find they lose their friends for similar reasons. Added to this can be the fact that a brain injury in the family can be so traumatic that there is little else that you can focus on. Even the best of family friends may find it difficult to share your focus on an event that has changes your life so drastically. Often people are bitter at this desertion by friends who thought would stick with them.
Another issue for families can be the disbelief of friends. For example Sue’s friends simply don’t believe that her husband, Allen, had a raging temper, can no longer control his money and is self centred. They only see his charming witty side that he can still project in short public appearances. Sue is finding it difficult when her best friends are starting to believe she is making up stories about Allen for sympathy.
In these situations you can either provide your friends with information about brain injury (and stroke) or remember your local brain injury association or the National Stroke Foundation or association is always available if you are close to breaking point. Sometimes getting things off your chest to someone who understands can be a great relief!
Some final points worth considering are:
• Look at establishing new friendships in a support group
• Keep your appreciation of support from friends high while keeping your expectations low
• Finding strategies for challenging behaviours to prevent social exclusion
• Try to be understanding if friends come back after the worst phase of hospital and recovery are over
• Carers may need to focus in talking about ‘normal’ things with friends some of the time.
Call StrokeLine to talk to a health professional for free information and advice. 1800 STROKE (787 653) or get help through our website www.strokefoundation/get-help.com.au.
Thank you to The Brain Injury Association of Queensland for the article in Synapse Bridge Magazine the official journal of BIAQ. This article was first printed from the ABIOS fact sheets available at www.health.qld.gov.au/abios.