Coming to terms with stroke

Coming to terms with what has happened is an important stage in your recovery and it can take time. There is absolutely no right or wrong about how you are feeling or coping. If you can, try to discuss how you are feeling with someone you trust.

You may have many different emotions and feelings such as:

  • Fears and worries - shock, disbelief and a sense of loss can affect you and your family just like a grief reaction. You may feel frightened by lapses in memory or worried that you may have another stroke.
  • Anger and frustration - you may be angry about what has happened to you or frustrated because you can't do the things you could before your stroke. Sometimes the effect of a stroke can make you more irritable with people around you and you may be more prone to mood swings. This can make it more difficult for you and your family to cope.
  • Depression and anxiety - you are likely to feel anxious or low and this is quite normal. Feeling low is natural for a while after a stroke. But, if you are feeling low most of the time you could be depressed. If this is the case, speak to your GP or nurse about how you are feeling.
  • Loss of confidence - lack of confidence and low self esteem are common after stroke. It is important to focus on getting back some independence if you can and use any opportunities to boost your confidence. This could be by getting more involved in making decisions about your care, learning new skills or setting yourself realistic goals.
  • Lack of motivation - recovery from a stroke is usually gradual and made up of small but significant achievements. If you are feeling tired and low this can affect your motivation to recover and get out and about again. Set small, achievable goals to help you feel as positive and motivated as possible.

Feeling very emotional, anxious, angry or low is common, especially in the first few weeks and months after a stroke. These feelings are quite normal and as time goes by they are likely to get better as you come to terms with what has happened. A good way of staying positive is to get good information and advice. Being informed takes away much of the fear and uncertainty around your recovery.

There are treatments and therapies that can help with your emotions after a stroke. Your doctor will be able to explain what they are and what might work best for you. It may be that talking therapy with a trained therapist is a good option for you. This allows you to talk freely about how you are feeling so you can deal with your emotions better. Medication, such as anti-depressants, may also help.

Try to remember that having good and bad days is natural and you need to pace yourself. There are limits to what you can achieve in any one day!

See the CHSS booklet Coming to terms with stroke (PDF) for more information about your emotional recovery after a stroke.