During stroke rehabilitation and recovery, many survivors describe feeling lonely, even when surrounded by other people. Does this describe how you feel?
“I miss the old me.”
For example, it can feel difficult to explain the complexities of brain injury to friends, co-workers, and extended family members. In addition, communication problems stemming from your injury, like aphasia, can make relating to other people and explaining your thoughts and feelings seem difficult.
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You might even feel self-conscious about your condition, worrying about feeling different or less capable. In addition, feelings of tiredness are common after any kind of brain injury, so you may not have the energy to do things you used to enjoy or to spend time with friends and family.
This can all lead to feelings of isolation and of “missing the old you”
Try these 5 suggestions to feel less alone and more hopeful about recovery
- Check with your healthcare provider to make sure you’re not battling clinical depression.
Some level of feeling down is normal during recovery but potentially debilitating depression affects a significant number of survivors. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Stroke showed proof of the correlation between stroke recovery and depression, but also demonstrated that treatment for depression can be fairly straightforward and successful if the symptoms are recognized and managed early on.
- Notice the progress you make and take pride in each gain.
Rehabilitation is hard work! It’s normal to feel tired and discouraged at times because things that used to be easy are now harder. But be kind to yourself – take stroke recovery one day at a time and appreciate each small gain as you discover new ways of doing things. Don’t give up – you’ll get there!
- Try to be as active as you can, even if you don’t feel up to it.
When we’re active our body releases chemicals into our brain that make us feel happier and more hopeful. Just a short walk or a bit of gardening can make a positive impact – do whatever you can manage. If you have a pet, spend time walking or playing with them.
- Find a local or online support group.
Support groups are a great way to meet others who are going through recovery from stroke or brain injury. Additionally, if there are group therapy options nearby, these also can often provide much of the same camaraderie as support groups, and you’ll get extra therapy to boot. Here are some resources to find support groups. Many people with aphasia and other communication issues find singing in a group helps with physical and emotional recovery – and yes, there’s science behind that!
- Consider private and public healthcare services.
There are different levels of care available depending on what you need. Skilled in-home home healthcare and rehabilitation services offer some of the treatment options available in the outpatient setting. Nonmedical companion in-home care can also support recovery and provide companionship at the same time. Check out local adult daycare services – many towns offer this for little or no fee, including transportation to and from the facility. Finally, there are housekeeping and meal preparation services – all of which can reduce the feeling of being alone and provide help with daily activities.