Personality change: Heather's story 

Heather had a brain haemorrhage in 2005, which led to a personality change. Find out how she and her family cope with the changes.

Recovering from subarachnoid haemorrhage

Transcript of Personality change: Heather's story

At the time when we were in hospital,

a couple of doctors had told me

that it was very unlikely that Heather would make it through this and survive.

At that point you make promises and you beg and you ask,

just one more chance.

I was gardening and I remember getting an intense pain in my head

and I was holding my skull, almost holding it back onto my head,

it was so painful.

And I collapsed on the floor.

(Andrew) Heather had a subarachnoid haemorrhage,

and it was a bleed on the right posterior communicating artery.

She had a 12-millimetre tear in the artery there.

She had damage to the frontal lobe part of her brain,

which is where, as one of our counsellors put it,

it's where you have the good idea/bad idea part of your brain

and it's where it weighs it up.

In Heather's brain that had been damaged,

and especially in the early days it just wasn't there,

so any impulses that came through,

there were no brakes on that impulse,

so if Heather had an urge she would follow it through.

Before the brain injury I'd been living with Andy for 15 years

and I had never, ever strayed, never.

I just wouldn't ever have gone with anyone else

because Andy was everything to me,

and then after the brain injury suddenly there were men everywhere that I fancied

and it was really strange because it wasn't how I used to be.

So it was different and it was quite shocking.

The other thing I found when I came across some of these men

is that they weren't attractive as to how I knew Heather.

One guy was in his 70s.

There was a guy that Heather knew from school

and he must have weighed about 17 stone of pure lard.

It didn't seem to matter what the person looked like.

It did feel like I had to do it.

It was almost like once I was on a roll I couldn't stop.

Every normal sexual urge that we have on a day-to-day basis, or thought, was...

- Amplified. - It was amplified and it had no brakes.

Heather would see a guy and maybe proposition him.

It can be horrible.

It's been nearly four years since Heather had her haemorrhage

and Heather still will speak to people

and is likely to indulge in risk-taking behaviour, given the opportunity.

It's almost like I'm 12 years old because I've got 24-hour supervision.

I do find it very frustrating, don't I?

I'm always moaning to you, "Why can't I stay here on my own?"

"No, you can't, Heather."

If there was nobody here, the braking system, what do you think you'd do?

I don't know.

Just be honest. If you didn't have the braking system from the outside...

I don't know. I'd probably have lots of fun, wouldn't I?

- What would that fun involve? - I don't know, darling.

Are you finding it difficult to say it now?

See, for me that's another sign that Heather's managing to make a recovery,

because at one point she would have just spoken exactly what she was feeling,

there would have been no braking system,

but as you can see there's a bit of a braking system.

"I'm not saying that on the camera."

Now it's coming to a point whereby Heather is learning

to sort of control her impulses.

(Heather) I felt like I was just the same as I always was

and I've got people examining me and saying I'm not, I'm not.

It was hard to accept that, wasn't it, for me?

It's still difficult for you to accept it now.

You have to be non-judgmental,

you can't put across your own views

and hold your own standards on this person.

I got the same feelings and emotions

that anybody in a long-term relationship would get

when their partner's strayed off or had sexual relations with somebody,

but I've been lucky that I've always been able to fall back on

this is not Heather acting out, this is her brain injury acting out.

This is not Heather, this is her brain injury.

It takes time and it takes patience.

For us it's been worth struggling through anything that we've come across.

It's been worth it.


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