“is it common for a stroke victim to lie about everything?”

house with black dots over it
This is what life after stroke may look like – you don’t realize what you don’t know… and you misrepresent it

Please Note: All brain injuries are different. They will affect people in different ways. The following are my observations from personal experience with a stroke survivor, as well as what I know about brain injury. Not everyone is going to have this. My point is, lying is a complex behavior that may be unintentional, as well as organically based — not deliberate or manipulative. Some people may be manipulators, and they may become moreso after stroke, but some people simply don’t realize what they’re doing, and they need help and compassion, not judgment and suspicion.

Somebody found their way to this blog by searching for this question: “is it common for a stroke victim to lie about everything?”

I believe it’s not uncommon.

Stroke can confuse you about what’s really going on. And they may not even realize they are lying.

Either that, or it can make a person very anxious, to the point where they’ll lie to get out of trouble, or they’ll just say whatever comes to mind, to cover their tracks.

It can be a real problem, because it can keep a stroke survivor from telling you exactly what’s going on with them.

And if you don’t know, you can’t help them the way they need to be helped.

It sucks.

But it happens.

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Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

10 thoughts on ““is it common for a stroke victim to lie about everything?””

  1. I had a conversation with someone on this topic and here’s my two cents… What if the person who had the stroke also sustained auditory deficiencies as many of us with TBI did? With hearing dysfunction you often miss key words or phrases. Following stroke, many cannot deal with their new situation and don’t reveal to others their struggles. Instead of admitting hearing and understanding difficulties their brains fill in the blanks of what they thought they heard. That then translates to them sharing their “truth” as they believe they heard it. If someone is consistently lying but believes they are not, a good hearing eval may be in order. After my TBI I have certain auditory deficiencies (yet still fall in the normal range). It might be something to check. I am dealing with a relative who had a stroke and she is in denial of some symptoms 8 months later. Food for thought! And, thanks for your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am accused of this all the time. In my reality, I don’t lie. I think my family use it as an excuse to tell me or others that I am wrong therefore they are to be believed. It is rather disempowering. Cheers,H

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think your perception of stroke survivors is off. I am a stroke survivor. I had a major stroke. If anything, I am just the opposite of what you proclaim. I have a tendency, to tell the truth when it would be better to tell a white lie to spare feelings. Maybe you need to read a little about stroke victims.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry if you got that impression. I actually live with a stroke survivor, so I’m just speaking from my experience. Brain injuries are as diverse as the people who have them, so personality traits can vary, and the way the brain is affected will differ from person to person.

    The most important thing of all, is to remember that each person is different, each brain injury is different, and to not make generalizations about a large group, based on a subset. I’ll update that piece to reflect this, because while I have seen evidence of this, myself, it’s not true for everyone.

    Obviously.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That can be disheartening. I’ve been accused of lying many, many times when I was a kid – but it was confabulation — getting confused about the actual state of things. It wasn’t deliberate lying. And I got pretty much of a complex about it, thinking I couldn’t trust myself at all.

    I wish this were easier…

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  6. Just so you know, this is not an accusation, nor is it a criticism of folks who have experienced stroke. It’s just an observation that it can happen. If it doesn’t happen with you, then great. But it can happen. It’s not unheard of. It doesn’t reflect on you at all. In fact, if anything, it should enlighten people to the fact that perceived “lying” might be something very different – organically based and a result of an injury, not bad intent.

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  7. I have always been accused of lying, when A) I was missing auditory clues – like you said, and B) I was just confused. I genuinely believed what I was saying was true – I just didn’t realize I was wrong. And it backfired on me.

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  8. My fiance is at the end of his rope, thinking no one understands. I see the confusion, the lying and the desperation. Because his several strokes, he’s 51 and had 4 or 5, most recent Jan 2016, hasn’t left him paralyzed or more visibly physically affected, everyone thinks he is just fine and he’s far from it.
    Please share how I can help or get him help… he’s in a really bad place and I’m very afraid for him.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m sorry to hear that. It is extremely difficult to deal with – especially when everything looks okay on the outside, but you’re darn’ sure things *aren’t* okay on the inside. Here are some thoughts:

    1. Your fiance is NOT alone. Someone in the US has a stroke about once every 40 seconds. Of that number, stroke kills someone in the US about every 4 minutes. But the survivors who continue on with varying degrees of difficulty also “die” a kind of death. Brain injury in general does that to people. You lose a part of yourself and you don’t know how to get it back.

    2. Stroke can sometimes cause “anhedonia”, which is a fancy way of saying you can’t enjoy anything anymore. I have a friend who is older — in his 60s — and has had several strokes. Anhedonia is a big problem for him, and he has tried to commit suicide. He is convinced that he cannot enjoy anything, but sometimes he clearly does. It’s important to find things to enjoy — a way to A) get your mind off your troubles (which are many and shouldn’t be discounted, but aren’t the WHOLE story), and B) remind yourself that life can be good.

    3. Gratitude heals. You might try helping him focus on that. When I am in a dark place, I force myself to make gratitude lists – every day, list out 10 different things I’m grateful for. No copying, from day to day, there have to be 10 unique things. It really gets me in line.

    4. It might be helpful to connect with others. If your fiance can’t do it in person (like with a local stroke survivor support group), there are forums online to discuss. It might help to check out the TBI/Post-Concussion forum at https://www.neurotalk.org/forum92/ — stroke is a brain injury, just like TBI, and it is traumatic, too. It might help for him to read about the experiences of others who are struggling with brain stuff.

    I hope this is helpful. Stroke is a really tough one, and I’m surprised there aren’t better resources for people supporting loved-ones after it. You may want to reach out, yourself, to support groups for loved ones / caregivers, so you can connect with others in similar circumstances.

    Best of luck to both of you. It’s not easy. I hope you both find the support you need to live your lives to the fullest.

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