Life was pretty normal for Paula, 41 from Glasgow. Working full-time with a list of fun challenges planned, it was like a bolt out of the blue having a stroke.
Paula was admitted to hospital after a series of seizures, and was diagnosed with a haemorrhagic stroke due to a cavernoma - a cluster of abnormal blood vessels.
Whilst the stroke left Paula physically unaffected, her mental health had been severely affected. Her anxiety was completely different to any other anxiety she'd experienced before, leaving her feeling scared and alone, unable to process information and have a conversation.
Fortunately, the hospital staff were kind and empathetic and had identified Paula's low mood and anxiety. They helped her to understand and process what was going on. This really helped.
However, Paula did come across some professionals that wanted to treat Paula's physical problems, without taking account of her anxiety. Paula then met a doctor who could describe exactly what she was feeling, and that it was a common and debilitating effect of the stroke. She was put on a waiting list for psychological support and referred to a mental health nurse in the community.
I believe empathy and kindness showed towards me in hospital really helped guide me in the early days of my recovery. If people at every level working in stroke, understand and are trained to identify the emotional symptoms of stroke, then everyone will benefit.
Paula returned home still struggling to cope emotionally and felt unable to do almost anything. Friends and family were a huge support and eventually Paula started to have some good days.
Paula feels that her family and friends have been her mainstay for coming to terms with the impact of her stroke. She knows this isn't an option for everyone.