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Stroke stories are meant to be shared

Do you share your own stroke story? Sharing my own stroke story is something I never envisaged during my initial stroke recovery. Why? That’s because I was not in a positive, happy place but now, I see the importance of making something good out of my bad health experience and THE best way to move forward is with passion and positivity. I began by writing my stroke poetry, as my brain would only work in rhyme, and sharing this poetry on the many Facebook support stroke groups, such as Return to work after stroke, really helped me understand how others suffered and the fact I was not alone. This was very cathartic for me, as it emptied my head of the frustrations, sadness and often amusing times that are all part of stroke recovery. Many readers would thank me for my poetry and also comment that they were unable to put their own emotions into words. Here’s one of my many poems that can be found in my book A Stroke of Poetry and was taken from my own experience of mild aphasia and know that many stroke survivors suffer from Aphasia (A language disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate).

I UNDERSTAND

Please don’t talk to me in baby talk. It really isn’t good.

Even though my words don’t come out right, I can hear; I understood

Don’t finish all my sentences. When you talk to me this way,

as it’s clear you wish I’d hurry up so we can get on with the day.

Even though my words are jumbled, and I slur to get them out,

Inside I know what I want to say so give me time and please don’t shout.

It’s important for me to process what I think I want to tell.

Even though when the words are spoken, they may not come out too well.

Buckets of patience I know you’ll need to help me through this time.

But please, oh please be mindful, they are not your words but mine.

I know my brain will heal but you must give me space.

Having a conversation does not need to be a race.

Sometimes I may not want to join in as my what anyone has to say.

But that’s okay, I do not mind, as my brain needs a rest today.

During my career as a 25 year UK Police Officer, and the latter 5 years being a Detective Inspector, I found myself stood in front of groups of officers delivering either training or simply briefing search teams in regard to serious crime matters. WOW, how my life has changed! What I am trying to say, is that the bags of confidence I had during my Police career were lost after my stroke, and even though it took a while to return, my confidence is back! Different job, but I now love standing in front of audiences; whether that be ten women from the local slimming group whilst I deliver the Stroke Foundation Stroke safe programme, or as a Motivational Speaker, sharing my story to 150+ delegates at a health conference. It is all the same. It is me, Shelagh Brennand, Stroke Survivor, Stroke Safe Ambassador and author of A Stroke of Poetry; simply sharing my stroke story. Here’s a great photo of a ‘Conversations on the Deck’ event at a local cafe; sharing stroke awareness and my stroke story with interested locals.29.3.19_Conversations on the Deck_reading poetry and raising money for Sevgen

Sharing your own stroke story does not always have to be verbal and in front of a huge crowd, as there are many opportunities to write articles, or other writers sharing your story in magazines, newspapers and other publications. I found a great resource in the website Sourcebottle.com.au; where they connect expert sources with journalists and bloggers. Once registered, I would answer many ‘shout outs’ from journalists who wanted a positive story about becoming healthier, and moving on with my life after illness. I have also recorded a number of podcasts over the years and one recorded last year with the The Phoenix Phenomen is a way of sharing my story to the world. One of my latest media articles is a feature in the July 2019 edition of That’s Life Magazine, which is distributed throughout Australia and New Zealand. There are plenty more like this on the media page of my website so have a read, and you can see the variety of ways I have shared my story over the last few years. This may give you some ideas of how you can share your story.

I often use the words ‘You have to be in it to win it’ and although putting yourself forward for things can be daunting; they can also be very much worthwhile. Last year, I won a competition to have a short documentary film about my life. It was only released last week and the amazing film company Inspireflix love to film and share inspiring stories. My film is 8.5 minutes long and I feel that it  captures my life and the story I want to tell the world. The importance of sharing my stroke story is to tell others:

  • STAY POSITIVE
  • NEVER GIVE UP
  • ALWAYS SEEK SUPPORT

Please get in touch if I can help or direct you into sharing your own stroke story and until next time, take care and stay stroke safe.

Shelagh

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