Socially withdrawn after stroke? – 6 tips to be more social.

1. Understand your insecurities.

Learn to pay attention to negative thoughts and distinguish the rational thoughts from the irrational ones.

Until you’ve addressed your insecurities and told yourself you’re a worthy person, you won’t be able to truly socialise.

Do you tell yourself you’re ‘not normal’ now? That you are misunderstood?
Unhinged or irritable or emotional?

Negative thoughts like these are what keep you from feeling confident enough to be a social person.

2. Recognise & compartmentalise away your negative thoughts.

First, acknowledge that the negative thought is there. Label it as a “negative” thought, and then let it slowly dissolve until it disappears completely.
Turn a negative thought into a constructive one. For example, I can’t walk anymore independently. So you tell yourself you are ‘disabled’ (like I did) Instead tell yourself ‘I’d like to walk and get my strength back so that I can do the things I once enjoyed & be more social. This way, you can turn a negative thought into a positive goal for the future.
For every negative thought, think of three positive thoughts.
Being positive makes you more socially approachable.

3. List your positive qualities.

Unfortunately, we spend so much time trying to improve ourselves that we forget to acknowledge our accomplishments, our talents, and our good nature. Why not ask yourself the following questions to get you started:

What have you done in the past year that you are proud of?
What is your proudest accomplishment of all time?
What unique talents do you have?
What do people tend to compliment you on?
What positive impact have you made on other peoples’ lives?

Most of the time it’s hard to remember your past achievements, so why not write them down on a piece of paper as they happen, and put them in an ‘achievements jar’ in your kitchen?

4. Stop comparing yourself to others.

Keep in mind that behind closed doors, everybody experiences pain or suffering from time to time. If you find yourself wondering why certain people seem happier than you, remind yourself that happiness has little to do with external circumstances, and everything to do with attitude.
Life is challenging for everyone
In different ways and we all have different coping thresholds.

5. Remember that you’re not the center of the universe. (This was my thinking in 2011!)

I felt invisible and insecure also tend to feel like they are constantly being watched, criticised, and laughed at.

I thought strangers were constantly staring at you and waiting for you to mess up or judging me on my obsessive passion. They did privately question whether I was actually moving on, though now realise I had to do what I did.

Remember people are so involved with their own lives that they have little time to notice if you do or say something embarrassing.

Get over the fact that everyone is judging you. Like you, they are more concerned about themselves than the people around them.

6. Get over your fear of rejection. (Hard I know, as I felt I’d lost my place socially because I was no longer perceived as ‘normal’ by others, but now I know no-one is perfectly normal!)

But think about all of the amazing relationships you can form if you just put yourself out there more.

Hope this helps make you feel more social.

Adapted from:


Do you know how to spot a brainstem stroke?

Brain stem strokes can be difficult to diagnose and complex,  according to Dr. Richard Bernstein, assistant professor of neurology in the Stroke Program at  Northwestern University in Chicago.

Brain stem stroke can cause:

  1. Vertigo
  2. Dizziness
  3. Double vision
  4. Slurred speech
  5. Severe imbalance and
  6. Decreased level of consciousness.

So what does the brainstem do? Well it controls all basic activities of the central nervous system: consciousness, blood pressure, and breathing. All the motor functions are controlled by it. It’s like our body’s control box.  Brain stem strokes can impair any or all of these functions. “These complications are often predictable and, with prompt recognition, can be treated,” Dr. Bernstein says. “If complications are dealt with quickly, there is a good chance of recovery.”

More severe brain stem strokes can cause Locked in Syndrome – a condition in which survivors can move only their eyes.

“It is important that the public and healthcare professionals know all of the symptoms of a stroke and are aware that some brain stem strokes heave distinct symptom,” Dr. Bernstein says. “Patients need to receive treatment as soon as possible to promote the best recovery.”

Like all strokes, brain stem strokes produce a wide spectrum of deficits and recovery. Over time, these symptoms could result  in mild to moderate and short to long term difficulties.

Risk factors for brain stem stroke are the same as for strokes in other areas of the brain: high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, atrial fibrillation and smoking. Like strokes in other areas of the brain, brain stem strokes can be caused by a clot or a hemorrhage. There are also rare causes, like injury to an artery due to sudden head or neck movements. This was my actually the cause of my injury.

“Dramatic recovery from a brain stem stroke is possible,” says Dr. Richard Harvey, director of stroke rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. “Because brain stem strokes do not usually affect language ability, the patient is able to participate more fully in rehabilitation therapy. Most deficits are motor-related, not cognitive. Double vision and vertigo commonly resolve after several weeks of recovery in mild to moderate brain stem strokes.”



Resources for Locked-in Syndrome

Running Free: Breaking out from Locked in syndrome Allatt/Stokes





Locked In: A Young Woman’s Battle with Stroke. Mozersky, Judy. The Golden Dog Press, 1996. ISBN 0-919614-64-7.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Bauby, Jean-Dominique. Random House Value Publishing, 1995. ISBN 0-517409-31-3.


Information Sources

Adapted from “Surviving a Brain Stem Stroke”, Stroke Connection January/February 2003 and

Stroke recovery impact messages are not good enough!

A stroke is absolutely NOT sexy, let me be clear so I don’t offend anyone!

However, why have we still not made the subject of stroke with politicians, TV and newspaper editors SEXY enough to write about?

How often do you see more than just a few column inches or online pages dedicated to stroke recovery?

Cancer charities have successfully given cancer messages an even higher impact when they talk about giving the illness the ‘V-sign’ on TV.

Yet our national stroke messages seem so utterly boring and not newsworthy, well unless you are a well-known celebrity. (Andrew Marr, Lauren Bacall, ChrisTarrant, Hilary Devey, Jessie J, Sharon Stone,…..) give me strength. Normal people have strokes. In fact anything with a brain can have a stroke, so that includes unborn children in the womb!

While I’m ranting, why are other cancer charities and governments so preoccupied with stroke prevention?

Sure, prevention is very important, but what about those poor people who didn’t actually manage to prevent their stroke happening in the first place? What messages are out there to help us self-manage our own recoveries and possibly contribute to society?

Change the record please and start ‘ass kicking stroke’ and redress your stroke marketing messages to help people try to aspire to recovering more.


Robin Williams suicide highlights the hidden sides of stroke



As most now know Robin Williams committed suicide. I think the immediate comments on Twitter summed up the widespread ignorance of the impact of severe depression and anxiety in our society when one wrote, ‘So What has Robin Williams got to be depressed about?’

Within 24 hours attitudes changed and the fantastic Mrs Doubtfire initiative went viral and is positively helping raise awareness of mental health issues globally.

But when someone has a stroke, individuals suffer residual physical disabilities but the long term emotional impact is often extreme. One woman even blogged on a closed group in Facebook, ‘I was always very independent. Now walking from one room to another wears me out. My friends & sisters turned their backs on me. I hate living. I wish my stroke had killed me.’

Because of these often widespread and desperate views, I feel very passionately that we must raise awareness of stroke and severe depression. Furthermore, we must not make stroke campaigning always about stroke PREVENTION an F.A.S.T.

‘It amazes to see how selfish some people can be. They can try to justify it by saying it’s just too hard, or that the stroke patient isn’t the same, but that’s just life. Life gets hard and things happen that flat out stink. That in no way should affect your commitment to a loved one. My husband’s family rarely come to see him (maybe one person will come once every 3-4 months and stay for maybe an hour) and they only live about 30 minutes away. I know it bothers him that they don’t come, so I continuously invite them, but they always say they’re just too busy. I understand being busy, but if you can’t make time once a month or so to come and check on a nearby brother or son that needs you, then you need to look at your priorities.’

‘We have similar problems and I look at in that they have the problem! What bothers me is when they come and try to tell me and Paul how we should be doing things! That’s none of their concern they should simply come and visit your relative, and show support in that way. But nothing stranger than folk! Xxx’

‘I can’t count the number of times I was told, ‘Don’t ask me to go back it’s was just too hard,’ like it happened to them. I had to release my demons & digest my trauma, I was felt muzzled.’

‘…people need to get over themselves and think of how the stroke survivor feels. You don’t like hospitals? Neither does the stroke survivor. Visit them anyway. It’s hard on you to see a loved one in this condition? It’s hard on the stroke survivor to be in this condition. Be there for them anyway. To show true love is to put down your own feelings and hang-ups and be 100% there for the one you love.’

‘People are just selfish though how do they think we feel looking at our Loved Ones in their new post stroke conditions? It makes me mad I would rather they just said I can’t be arsed, at least you would know where you stood. People just can’t be honest, scared of hurting our feelings, well compared to what we have been through their opinions are nothing!’

‘Sometimes I feel as though it’s me and the boys up against the world. All I can say is thank god we’ve got amazing friends! Family gave good support at first but now we rarely see them, the majority haven’t visited for over 6 months which shows no support to my husband or our kids. People seem to think that sporadic text messages and emails are sufficient to keep in touch with my husband whilst my uncle who’s in his 70s and has just had heart surgery comes to see my husband from his home 20 miles away every couple of weeks. I think I’m better without the support and quite frankly the irregularity of it totally pisses me off. I hold grudges, a bad trait I know but that’s just how it is!’


Charities and government please LISTEN to these views from  anonymous patients and people above affected by stroke.