TIA and Minor Stroke

Emotions and feelings after a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)

When people were describing the moment when they had their minor stroke or TIA many recalled feelings of shock, fear and panic that stemmed from not knowing what was wrong and whether they would recover. Many people did not recognise the symptoms they were experiencing and so were unable to work out what was happening to them (see ‘Delay in seeking help’). During the episode many people experienced feelings of disconnection, disorientation and confusion which could make it very difficult to be able to think rationally.
Most people found it a frightening experience as it came out of the blue without warning, and particularly the thought that they might not recover fully and may be left with disabilities such as not being able to speak or communicate properly in the future. Some people could not remember a great deal about how they felt during the event itself. Ann talked about how strange she felt overall, but said her memory about it all is extremely vague.
lare said that the way other people responded to her when she was taken ill made her feel very upset and worried and Anne felt very emotional when she talked about the way friends and family had reacted to her illness.
A few people said that they weren’t unduly affected by what had happened and that they don’t think about it too much.
A number of people described their feelings about the event as being a ‘wake up call’, that it had given them an opportunity to adjust their lifestyle and that in some ways this made it a fortunate experience.
One of the things that some people said was that it brought into sharp focus the reality of their own mortality, which could be frightening, but as Phillip (below) said, we tend to be in a state of denial about such things.
Getting ‘back to normal’ after having had a TIA or minor stroke could be difficult and took some time for many people. Ken described feeling ‘in limbo’ as he waited for the results of tests and was uncertain for instance whether he should stop working on his allotment. Feelings of fatigue and tiredness could last for some while afterwards which could make life more difficult to cope with. Some people said that they felt lacking in confidence for some while afterwards, and some were nervous about being left alone or going out alone. Some people also worried about whether or not they should continue with normal everyday activities, or how it might affect their job or relationships.
Many people said that afterwards they felt it had affected their emotional stability and that they found themselves becoming tearful or upset about things that previously they wouldn’t have worried about. Some people said they now felt that their personality had changed and they had difficulty in coming to terms with their ‘new self’.
A number of people felt depressed for some time after having a TIA. A few people spoke to their GP about how they were feeling and were given medication or offered counselling, but there were others who were not comfortable with the idea of taking anti-depressants and not everyone was offered help in the form of counselling. Sometimes people found help and support through other avenues such as support groups, internet forums or friends and family (see ‘Back home’ and ‘Relationships, friends and family).
Most people were able to get some perspective on things eventually and found ways to overcome their fears and anxieties.
Jennifer said that it can feel like a roller-coaster but even when you experience life’s ‘ups and downs’ you have to keep going and stay positive.

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Last reviewed June 2017.
Last updated August 2013


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