You didn’t see it coming, but few people who have a stroke do. And as you may know by now, surviving a stroke is only half the battle. How do you cope with a life that’s forever changed?
First off, know that there are many people facing the same situation as you. Almost 800,00 people have strokes every year. Some may recover with only minor residual side effects, while others are left with permanent disabilities. Learning to cope with your individual situation is critical to recovery. Here are some strategies that may help:
Recognize the emotions. You’ll likely go through a range of emotions, from sadness about things you many no longer be able to do, to anger about why this has happened to you, to frustration with the difficulty of communicating with loved ones. All of these are normal feelings. If you’re experiencing extended periods of sadness, have lost interest in life or have thoughts of suicide, seek help immediately because these are symptoms of depression. If you’re a caregiver of someone with a stroke, learn to recognize the signs.
Work with the new you. Recuperating will take time and a lot of hard work, and you may not totally get back to where you were before. Set small goals for yourself and celebrate as you reach them. And don’t be afraid to rest. Remain active. You may not be used to moving the way you used to, but don’t feel embarrassed by having to use a cane or wheelchair. You need to get out, even if only for a short time. If your loved one has had a stroke, encourage him or her to meet up with friends or engage in enjoyable activities, if he or she is up to it.
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family to assist with errands or just stop by for a visit.