For Julie, 36, from Tyne and Wear, her stroke in 2015 not only took her ability to speak, she also lost her baby when she was 21 weeks pregnant.

Julie, who had previously had a stroke in 2013, was found on the floor by her son and Husband, Stephen in November 2015. After calling an ambulance and attending hospital, Julie was in and out of consciousness and doctors suspected that she may not survive.

I was so scared. A few days after my stroke the doctors asked my family to come into the hospital as they didn't think I would make it – I couldn't speak at all at that point and I couldn't understand a lot of what was happening.

- Julie, stroke survivor

A devastating decision

Tragically, Julie, who was 21 weeks pregnant at the time, was told that her pregnancy may have caused the stroke as her blood was thickening and her hormone levels were so high. Due to her risk of another stroke that could be fatal, Julie was left with no choice but to terminate her pregnancy.

The only alternative for me was to have a termination. It was devastating and to make it worse, Stephen had to make the decision as I couldn't communicate at all.

- Julie, stroke survivor

Julie said: "I remember one of the nurses visiting us and just saying, 'you're a fighter Julie and you have to carry on fighting for your kids' I knew I had to carry on for the three of them."

Aphasia rehabilitation

Despite not being able to speak for months; hard work and intensive speech and language therapy has meant that Julie's speech has returned. Starting with being able to say yes and no, Julie was then able to say her children's names and her speech has continued to improve.

Julie said: "The bits I struggle with now are at night time, some days I can't say words with an S. Some days are better than others with my speech. I know it's there but I can't get my words out or the sentence comes out the wrong way around."

Living with aphasia

Julie feels hugely frustrated by the public's lack of understanding of people with aphasia and works tirelessly to raise awareness of the condition. She also cites one day being able to read bedtime stories to her youngest as one of reasons to persevere.

Julie said: "In general I get frustrated with not being able to find my words even when I know what I want to say. My spelling and writing is also affected.

I go to shops and they rush you, the buses are the same. I've even been told when I get on buses that I've been drinking. They don't realise some people like me need more time, we look normal but that doesn't mean we don't have any underlying health conditions.

- Julie, stroke survivor

"I can't read my kids bedtime stories and I used to love reading – it's just so much information. Being able to read to my kids rather than the other way around is a goal of mine. I am a positive person and I want to help people with aphasia as much as possible. I really believe teaching kids in school about stroke and aphasia more is needed."


Our spring campaign "Let’s talk aphasia" aims to raise awareness of aphasia and its impact on stroke survivors, their families and friends. Watch our documentary film, featuring Julie, now: When the Words Away Went.

Further support

If you would like to talk to someone about the issues raised in Julie's story, you can call our Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100 or email

Samaritans provide confidential, emotional support, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call the Samaritans on 116 123, or email