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Emotional change after an accident

answered 08:44 PM EST, Sat October 15, 2011
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My boyfriend and I were in a terrible car accident a couple of weeks ago. I was not badly injured but Tony was. He was driving a vintage VW bug and we got hit hard by a truck running a red light and his leg was crushed and trapped in the frame and there was a lot of blood all over his head and he was in such a lot of pain. They had to use the jaws of life to get him out and I thought for sure he was going to die.

He is going to be OK and will probably even walk normally again in time, but I am now left to care for him during his recovery. We have been living together for years and I love him so we are basically married and so taking care of him should be no big deal. But now I find that I am just so irritated by everything he does and I just feel no love for him anymore. I know this is terrible, because he is doing nothing wrong and is actually a very considerate patient. I try to hide how I am feeling but he can see it in my eyes so I am not doing a very god job of it.

Why am I feeling like this? I feel like I am such a terrible person, after all, I got out with scratches and bruises and he is so badly injured and now I’m so testy with him all the time. Is the way I am feeling going to go away?

Dr. Ari Hahn Says...

Dr. Ari Hahn A. Hahn

It is very difficult to assess why you have such a radical emotional change after the accident. I would first rule out any physical injury causing your change. Did you get hit in the head during the accident? Are there other unexplained changes in your emotions? (Less initiative, more/less nervousness or irritability?) Before any psychological help you should try to get a comprehensive neurological assessment to rule out even minor brain injury from a concussion that you might have received in the accident. 

Assuming you did not sustain any damage in the accident you need to think about your question to me: is it really important to know why you feel like that or is it more important that you change your feelings so you no longer harbor resentment? Understanding the sources of your feeling can be a long and difficult process, but changing your feelings might be easy even without understanding the whys and wherefores. 

Are you spending so much time caring for him that you do not have your own life? If so you need to re-balance in a way that you can care for him and do things that you enjoy also. That needs to be according to both of your needs, because some people go too far in the other extreme. Usually people who are in your situation find that the person being cared for understands the needs of the caregiver. That certainly seems true in your case.

The second step is to find some pleasurable activity together. Something that will make you laugh together. Laughter will not only reestablish your bonding with him, but strengthens his immune systems and can speed up his recovery. (It also helps your immune system and ability to deal with stress.)

Other questions that need to be explored include ways to improve details of your interactions. Also, how has this accident impinged on you intimate relations? Have you had to make adjustments there? Has the accident effected other relationships such as with your extended family or his?

I hope this has been helpful. Contact me if you still have questions.

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Page last updated Oct 17, 2011

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