Accepting the damage, and the depression

There is life after stroke. That I know. But I’m still trying to understand what that life is.

My strokes (two) were three years ago. Physically I have been very, very lucky. Slight loss of strength on the right, but nothing to write home about, and I am fitter - say the medics - than most people who have not had a stroke.

Yes, I’m on the drugs - warfarin for the blood disorder they diagnosed, Lamotrigine for the epilepsy caused by the strokes - but I can cope with that.
My language and speech are fine, not just in English but in the other languages that I learned over the course of a varied career.

So what am I complaining about? Well, I have to admit that I am depressed.
Why admit? Because I couldn’t accept that I was depressed. I was fit, alert and appear no different.

But accepting that I was depressed was hard, very hard. I blamed the issues I experienced as the fault of others, not me. And “the others” were mainly my family and in particular my wife. My anger has driven her away and our relationship hangs by a thread.

My rages have all been about my perception that they were abandoning me, failing to understand me and not being there when I needed it. This, of course, has led to the very thing I am afraid of - distance, unhappiness with me, hurt for them and a growing feeling that I am unstable.

Why has it taken me so long to realise that I need help? I don’t know. Being brought up tough? A career that put me at times in life threatening situations that I laughed away? Who knows. But what I do know is that accepting that I am depressed has been the hardest thing to do in my recovery, and even now my mind frequently tells me that I’m not depressed and it’s the fault of others.

Tales in the forum of marriages that have failed because of strokes have filled me with fear and despair. But I wish I had listened earlier.

As someone in the forums said, the hardest thing is to fix a brain with the only tool we have, and that tool - the brain - is broken. So how to you fix a broken brain with a broken brain?

Not all my problems have come from the strokes. I was often the same before the strokes, unwilling to accept that my toughness was perhaps not as real as I thought, and it hurt my family when I got angry rather than realising that I needed help. It’s my family that have recently told me that. But the stroke has made this worse.

I’m not looking for help, or even sympathy here. Perhaps understanding and support. But most importantly, to know that I am on the right track. To everyone out there, we are not alone. We need our families, but we need each other here. Even our loved ones do not necessarily understand exactly what is going on. But they suffer the effects.

As Beckett (Samuel) said in his book The Unnamable “: You must go on . I can’t go on . I’ll go on .”


@Manxman it may have taken you a while to accept that you’re depressed but you’ve done it. That’s the hardest bit & hopefully you can now start to work your way through it.

I know my own mental health has suffered since my stroke. A couple of weeks back I was completely paranoid about everything & it ended up causing ructions at home. It’s so difficult isn’t it.

When we look ok people assume we are ok unless we tell them we are not. I really hope you can get things back on track and thank you for sharing your story. It will help others I am sure.


I have depression as well, and while mostly it has not caused familial problems. Because I worked in the field of psychology and have always been self analyzing, I was aware very early on, let it get a bit out of hand anyway thinking as I got better it would go away. It has subsided enough with medicine and getting better. Glad I did not wait til the better, or I would have been waiting a long time, if I had not already offed myself by then.

Better means different things to different people. I am not who I was and some of that is good news, some not so much. Better to me meant I could tolerate the noise of being around my young family, be of at least a little assistance to them, find a new purpose or new ways to achieve former goals. Taking a bath rather than a shower was very important to me, and I hope to Kayak and hike again, Driving would make that easier, but it doesn’t seem to be getting any closer for me.

Anxiety diagnosis was the one I was not very accepting of, because I did not feel anxious. However once it was explained to me in a different way…(my brain and body were anxious because they were no longer communicating in a way they recognized), I paid more attention. That diagnosis was correct as well. It helped me then to have more control over tremoring, to stop and take a few breaths when it started, or when I would forget how to walk, talk or move, then try again.

Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. It has very little to do with your attitude and more to do with damage to certain areas of the brain or changes to hormonal receptors (such as dopamine). It can be situational, such as at the passing of someone special or other life changing events (such as stroke).

One thing I would suggest from both personal and former professional experience. Medicines or therapy can help tremendously, but both together are the best practice.

Best wishes to you and your family.


Thank you both. The wisdom and sympathy you show is itself helping my mood and my recovery. Again, thank you.

Insights such as “.When we look ok people assume we are ok unless we tell them we are not” are so true.

You both help me realise that depression is not something to be afraid of, not something to ignore, not something to see as failure.

I am now on medicines and in therapy. But for so long I saw the problem as one of my relationships - in other words it was others not understanding rather than my failure to understand the amount of support they have given and the pain they are going through because of both my stroke and my subsequent behaviour.

Thank you both. Now to a dinner with all four grandchildren. If there is a better natural anti-depressant, I do not know it!

So thank you again. Accepting that depression is not a failure, is not cowardice, is not self indulgence is hard. But I’m learning…


@Manxman How acceptance can help depression: a good article from psychology today:

I was so depressed after my stroke I would LET myself cry, I would let myself sit and stare out the window like a zombie, turn down social gatherings, spend a lot of time alone and only physical therapy helped break the evil spell.
I was a tough guy also. A weightlifter and powerlifter most of my life and extremely strong. Super piano player and artist… and for a while I lost those skills and became so weak, my wife could out- lift me.
Slowly through time, I began to creep out of, crawl out; of the hole. But the main thing was to first accept and not fight the waves of grief, anger; sadness
Getting out there with friends and family with interesting conversation was a big help… So often my wife would say, hey lets go meet so-and-so for lunch and I would always say no, then change my mind. I’m always glad I went and always had a good time.
I can only share this wee story with you hope it helps just a tad, and I wish you the best.
and you know what? I feel so much more myself than that tough guy I used to be and it is a weight off my shoulders in a way.


Depression just like anxiety and stress are always difficult to recognise in yourself because you are in the thick of it. Acceptance being the hardest part of it. Accepting you have a problem, sets you on the road to recovery.

You’ve already been given a second chance at life, you lived through your stroke. Now you need to accept any and all support your family and the people around you gift you with. Because that’s the best therapy you can get. It’s free and it comes from the heart and it’s priceless. Don’t let your pride drag you down and destroy what you had with your family and friends. Pride is just a word to hurt you and has no place in your new life.

Take a leaf out of @Chlodog’s book :wink:


Early on attending my stroke support group, would heartily recommend joining one if you can get to one.Asked a member , how do you cope with the depression ? Never done depression she replied. Think she did. But many don’t like to admit . In my first year I was a different person , a pain up bum . Then finally had to accept I needed help with my depression. Three years on now , have it mainly under control. Some days you have to sit it out. Have the occasional outburst and meltdown but nothing like before. You can never satisfactorily explain how your mood can change, there are free leaflets from the Stroke Association that are worth getting to get family members grasp what we are going through


I am going to look for them now. If I don’t find them, I am going to ask you to share how you found them.


Hi DeAnn, this links to a web page on the Stroke Association web site with some information and a couple of PDF’s you can download, maybe this is what you are looking for.

Low mood and depression after stroke

The above is a link to those leaflets and the info.

If you have already found it then no worries.

Keep on keepin’ on
:writing_hand: :smiley: :+1: