What I’m really thinking: the wife of a brain injury victim

I know people must look at my husband and think, “What on Earth has she got to complain about? He seems OK to me.” Well, he isn’t OK to me. Six years ago a near-fatal car accident altered him beyond belief. A big personality change, resulting from brain damage, means I never know how he will be from one day to the next. When he stirs in the morning, I hold my breath – he’s unpredictable these days. I try not to let him see how much my feelings have changed, but it can be difficult keeping up appearances. The criticism can start from the time he opens his eyes. His moods mimic those of someone with a bipolar disorder, only his is a brain injury disorder, and there doesn’t seem to be any treatment to even things out.

Talking to other people, he uses a thousand words when 10 would do. While he’s unable to recognise their expressions of boredom, I stand next to him wanting the ground to open up and swallow me.

Occasionally I get a glimpse of my old husband – his brilliant sense of humour, and sometimes his eyes soften when he sees me, like they used to. But not often. To the outside world we still come across as a couple, but for much of the time I live with someone I don’t really recognise. It sounds brutal, but sometimes I find myself thinking it would be easier if he had died. I could have grieved and moved on. As it is, I grieve but cannot move on. I am all he has got.