Hi. It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been out of hospital for a few months now and I was doing well mentally, but things seem to be getting bad at the moment. It’s been 5 months since my stroke and physically I feel like there’s some progress but I feel like I’m in panic mode constantly.
Any time I get any pain, Wether that be a headache, my affected side feels fatigued, if my fatigue is bad etc I instantly worry that I’m having another stroke. I don’t know if it’s because of other forums or Facebook groups where people are talking about how they had a stroke and a few months later had another or if I’m just being paranoid but it’s really starting to get to me.
Does anyone have any tips on staying positive while I go through recovery?
That will play a big part in your mind. And if it wasn’t for my aphasia holding me back, I’d probably have scared the bejesus out of myself back then too, with other peoples less fortunate stories on here. But it is what we all worried about in the beginning and it’s not that we don’t anymore, it’s just that we’ve learned how to push it to the backs of our minds and keep there. The more you recover the easier it gets. You know the headaches and fatigues are part’n’parcel of the recovery process and yes, you could have another stroke, but you could also be run over by a bus in the morning! Does that not make you paranoid? Does that not send you into panic mode, the thought of being run over by a bus? What’s the difference; that’s what I ask myself, therefore what’s even the point of worrying about because there’s nothing more that can be done to prevent it anyway.
Whenever I found myself dwelling on stroke too much I’d go do something to distract; if in bed, I’d tell myself stories…because I wasn’t yet proficient enough to read again or get up and go do something for a time. Distraction is the key, you need to be continually finding things to distract those thoughts, until such time that you don’t need to anymore.
That time will come, just learn to relax. Maybe now’s a good time to take a break away from all things stroke related, and just concentrate on your recovery and developing new hobbies maybe. And stop reading the horror stories of strokes!
It’s perfectly natural. Knowing some of the psychology & so how to rationalise it may not help you - knowing the management techniques may
I should say that I’m to end a half years on and I too suffer from days when I think “this body and mind are not performing the way they have for the last few decades - I have no attributable cause, is it another stroke building?”
There are probably several ways to deal with it. ‘Live with it’ being the summary of all of them. Perhaps the most useful is to engage in some mindfulness and anxiety management study and practise so you can use the techniques when worry builds.
When your trigger, say a headache has no explanation that you can rationalise and you have a history of a previous experience leading to a conclusion like last headache was just before your stroke there is a strong belief in a relationship that one was the cause of the other. (The topic of risk management is full of the psychology of perception of threat but it won’t go off in that direction here)
For anything that can happen in the future you have an emotional response, which in this case will be anxiety.
Anxiety causes an awful lot of physical reactions as the mechanisms that are very appropriate when we as a species were on the plains of Africa and still applies in battle even if it’s with a tax man or somebody who’s stolen your parking space.
If you don’t know of the physical effects of anxiety, plus the suspicions in your mind are giving rise to physical effects then you interpret those physical effects as more proof that you’re anxieties are founded and not unfounded .
If you have a neuropsychologist they can describe the exercises. There are various apps that help. Breathing techniques, Finding a happy mental place to be etc, mindful.org
Headway is one that often gets some mention.
Bore da @LouCookson, it’s a natural reaction, once struck, twice shy. I looked for patterns, because my symptoms mimic the symptoms of the stroke I had. Sometimes it is worth thinking about what is causing the contention. So as an example, I get giddy for some time if I change footwear. At first, it unnerved me, and I worried that I might be having a TIA, however, as my symptoms are spatial-visual, the simple change in height due to the thickness of the sole of the different shoe I might wear, causes an adjustment for my brain. Once I had determined that this was a pattern and not an anomaly, I could deal with the result better. Recently, I have had times when I have felt rather nauseous and even thrown up. This worried me at first because vomiting was a symptom of the stroke I had but, on reflection, each time I had vomited, I had been moving back and forth quite quickly and not realising I had been doing so. This was another pattern I could ascertain that put my mind at rest. So patterns for are important.
The brain will flinch if it feels danger, and that flinching kicks in a fight or flight response. Mindfulness has a really good technique of settling down and observing the feeling you are having. Just relax and observe it, and let it pass. This technique gets me through some rough patches. Controlled breathing also helps. Some alternative techniques I use are singing loudly (mind blanking), cussing (raising adrenalin to mask discomfort) and painting the concern with a bit of humour. There were times when I would feel very unwell while showering, I told myself that if I were having another stroke, at least I’d be nice and clean when I got to hospital.
@LouCookson i think what everyone has already said is great advice. But don’t forget that 5 months post stroke is not that long and emotions etc are likely still really heightened.
I know i had a few occasions where I thought I might be having another stroke but i hadn’t. My anxiety around this probably reduced around the 12 month point although I still get symptoms, like dizziness, consistent with my stroke.
There is probably some truth in reading social media stories but for every person that posts about a 2nd stroke there are hundreds that never post & never have that 2nd stroke.
Hope your anxieties settle soon.
I’m 18 months post stroke and am definitely getting worse but I try to stay positive (my daughter would say I fail miserably but that’s another story). I stay positive by taking it one day at a time. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a present. Easier to trill out but it is true we can’t change the pAst or control the future we just have to focus on this day and worry about tomorrow when it happens and most of the time it isn’t as bad as our overbought brain feared. Overbought that should say! You do really have to work hard at it but it does work for me mostl if the time!
@LouCookson it is normal for this, it is still early days yet. i agree with @EmeraldEyes it gets better with time,
@LouCookson as others have said, it’s natural to be concerned, it was a huge traumatic event, it’s something that played on my mind to begin with. Do the the best you can to live a healthy lifestyle, exercise and eat well, take the meds etc.
We can’t eliminate the possibility of having another, only reduce the risk, find something that calms your mind, listen to music, deep breathing, meditation, go for a walk, whatever you can to ‘be in the moment’, change the inner monologue to a positive one, repeat a mantra, tell yourself whatever you wish to to promote positivity.
Hi @LouCookson ,
As many of the other responders have said, your feelings and fears seem entirely normal and experienced by many others on the forum.
I am a, self confessed, data geek. The way I deal with the fears that you talk about is to think thoughts like … "The chances of me having a second stroke are 4% (or whatever data I find)… am I worried about having a brain tumour (chances also 4 %) ? Answer = 'of course not ’ .
I then ask myself ‘so why are you worried about a second stroke?’ .
I think everyone copes with this worry in a different way - but this is an effective way of me appealing to my inner data / logic geek. Of course - this only works with the logical part of the brain and not with the ‘inner lizard’ who says ‘yes - but a stroke is a recent event for me and so might happen again’. So I often have these inner battles between the logical part of my personality that says ‘nahhh … no need to worry’ and the lizard who is petrified.
‘Feed the geek, starve the lizard’ is my new motto !!!
Not sure this helps !!
Love that motto. Think i might use it myself if you don’t mind
I think this is one of the best answers to the problem that I’ve ever heard. We all go though that phase where anything that could go wrong does.
The dread of another stroke is always the worst problem then and the only hope I can offer is that only one in ten people have another stroke. As for the rest just take every problem on its own and work out how to handle it. One of my worst problems was my biting of my cheeks when chewing, as long as you continue biting they will stay sensitive and swollen.
I solved this by twisting asway from the table and leaning forward when chewing, this kept the weight away from my cheeks and after a while the problem was solved. It is not a pleasant thing to do or see but since there were only two of us at the table my wife found the cure acceptable.
Aye, and I must say that over the past three years I have countlessly dreaded another stroke, yet, haven’t had one. So what was I worrying about? It’s like when a wasp flies near, some people panic, yet, have never been stung by one. Our brain reacts more to expectation than consequence. I watched a programme where they tested people by putting their mobile phones out of reach to see how long they could sit without needing to check them. Despite there being no reason to check, gradually, most of the participants caved in. There was no reason to check their phones, but they did so solely out of expectation.
That could be days, weeks even, in my case But I’ve found anyone who really wants to get hold of me knows there’s more than one way to skin a cat
I’d forgotten about that!
yeah the right hand side of my face - I used to bite the inside of my lip & my cheek all the time
thankfully I don’t anymore
Surprising how quick we can forget, I had the same problem too