We are individuals with differing strengths and weaknesses within our personality, as such the emotional aftermath of stroke can be different for each person; yes, of course, there are some similar symptoms that we all share following stroke, fatigue for example, however what may trouble me most may not be your most distressing issue. The symptoms are exhaustively long, speech, memory, mobility, cognitive, balance, dizziness to name but a few.
Emotions are a little more subjective to the individual and whilst we may feel them all we may not want to show them or talk about them to others, some may think of them as private, just for them to know about. What we feel affects how we act and interact; they should be discussed openly.
Fear – It’s a biggie, well it was for me, when I was sitting in my hospital bed wondering ‘what just happened’, am I going to live, will I be disabled for the rest of my life, how do I care for myself, will it happen again? It’s a daunting prospect.
These were all questions that floated through my mind in the beginning and to some extent still do, but I have this emotion more under control now, though it took time, lots of time and counselling to get to where I am today (15 months later). I previously ate a good diet, didn’t have high BP, no heart issues (other than Bradycardia which was discovered with the ECG), cholesterol levels good, exercised regularly, what to do now? So I took the meds I was prescribed and improved my diet, trying to exert some control, I felt I had to do something as I thought what I had been doing before was not enough (caveat here, sometimes you just can’t prevent a stroke from happening that’s why so many people have them, stroke doesn’t discriminate).
Anger – Yes, I was angry, why did this happen to me? Then I rationalised ‘who was I angry at’, who did I blame? My body? My brain? My blood? There was no one to be angry at, it was an event that happened. Anger (to me) is a negative emotion that keeps me stuck in the moment, it’s not healthy to stay angry.
Cheated - I did feel cheated. I didn’t feel the same as I did previously, I lost my self-esteem, some independence, I was scared and frightened, not traits that I thought were part of my emotional makeup.
Frustration - Arghh the frustration… not being able to express myself, I couldn’t speak or write, I couldn’t communicate, everything inside my head was clear and concise, I knew what I wanted to say and do but my body failed me at every turn! I dropped things, couldn’t fasten buttons/zips to get dressed all the little things I’d taken for granted we’re taken away.
Lonely - I felt lonely even though I was surrounded by people, family who loved me. I felt no one understood what I was going through. So pleased I joined this forum. Everyone here knows the daily struggle and doesn’t judge or criticise.
Disappointed - Strange as it may seem, the anger faded into disappointment. I somehow felt I’d let myself down, should have taken better care of myself. I’m more comfortable now with thinking, it happened, move on, don’t dwell. I have to enjoy each day, I have to find enjoyment in each and every day and live my life.
Anxious - I still suffer from anxiety, not as badly as I’d did in the first few months following the stroke but I can easily become anxious and panicked in certain situations if I don’t feel at ease, out of my depth. Maybe it’s a control issue? I like to feel I’m in control of a situation but new environments, things out of the norm phase me and the anxiety flares. I’m working on it.
Acceptance - Every experience throughout our lives changes us, good and bad events/experiences happen to all of us all. How we rise to the challenge is our own personal struggle, life goes on, don’t be afraid to live it. Do the best you can. Whilst I may not like it, I’ve come to terms with the fact I’ve had a stroke, this is the hand I’ve been dealt.
I’m moving forward in the best way I know how to. Thank you for being with me and sharing my journey. I’m wishing you all happiness, joy in your lives, take care, big hugs