Inappropriate mood swings, outbursts of tears or laughter, extreme anger, unaccustomed feelings of suspicion, and overwhelming sadness are just part of the bewildering emotional and personality disturbances stroke survivors and their families may have to deal with.
A stroke victim named Gilbert relates: "At times, I get emotional, either laughing or crying over the slightest thing. Once in a while, when I laugh, somebody will ask, ‘How come you’re laughing?’ and I really can’t tell them." This, coupled with problems with balance and a slight limp, prompted Gilbert to say: "I feel as though I’m in some other body, as though I’m somebody else, not the same person I was before the stroke."
Living with mind- and body-altering impairments, few people if any escape feeling a sense of emotional upheaval. Hiroyuki, whose stroke left him with impaired speech and partial paralysis, comments: "Even with time I just didn’t get better. Realizing I would not be able to continue my work as before, I fell into despair. I began blaming things and people and felt as if my emotions would explode. I did not act like a man."
Fear and anxiety are common to stroke victims. Ellen comments: "I have feelings of insecurity when I experience pressure in my head that could warn of a future stroke. I become really fearful if I allow myself to think negatively." Ron explains the anxiety he deals with: "To arrive at correct conclusions is almost impossible at times. Sorting out two or three small problems at once frustrates me. I forget things so quickly that I sometimes cannot remember a decision made a few minutes before. As a result, I make some awful mistakes, and it’s embarrassing to me and others. What will I be like in a few years? Will I be unable to converse intelligently or drive a car? Will I become a burden to my wife?"