Socialising can be daunting after a stroke. Struggling with confidence, physical challenges, mental health or fatigue, many stroke survivors stop seeing family and friends or are forced to give up their hobbies, leaving them feeling isolated and lonely.
For Tracy, 52, having a stroke meant giving up her active social lifestyle. 'I used to go to British Military Fitness (BMF) four times a week,' says Tracy. 'I was really fit and healthy. I was at a BMF event in Leeds, when my whole left side went weak and I started slurring my speech.'
Tracy received thrombolysis, and was discharged from hospital after six days. Despite feeling lucky in her recovery, the lasting effects of stroke have affected her social life and mental health. 'I've become more anxious, I've got fibromyalgia and fatigue. I don't go out like I used to. It's hard to plan anything because I never know what I'm going to be like on the day.
'I made a load of friends at BMF, and doing exercise made me feel so good. But the pace is too much for me now. In my mind I can do anything, but my body lets me down - it makes me feel really low.'
While Tracy's recovery is ongoing, she has found new activities that help her to feel better about herself and meet new people.
'I go to bingo with my daughter once a week - it's our thing. We really enjoy it. There's a good atmosphere and you can have a laugh with the staff. It gets me out of the house and gives me some 'me time'.
'I also now have a personal trainer who knows what I can and can't do. Some days I struggle, but I'm persevering. We do classes or exercise outdoors. It gets me out, and I always feel better after.
'I've taken up more hobbies since my stroke. I'm really into ancestry and go on the genealogy sessions on the Online Stroke Activities Hub. It's my chill out thing, it takes my mind off everything else.
'When you have a stroke, you have to take every day as it comes. But doing things like bingo, or joining groups online or in person, is a good way of connecting with people.'
We've partnered with Buzz Bingo, to help tackle loneliness and social isolation after stroke. We're working together to ensure Buzz Bingo's clubs are accessible and supportive places, where anyone impacted by stroke can meet others, rebuild confidence and have fun.
Find out more about the partnership or call 0300 3300 740.
If you're feeling lonely or isolated after a stroke, we can help. You can also call our Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100.
Stroke News magazine
This article is featured in the spring 2023 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.