Heart Soul Wisdom Podcast

Stroke Survivors, Healing and Finding Peace

March 18, 2024 Moira Sutton Season 5 Episode 95
Heart Soul Wisdom Podcast
Stroke Survivors, Healing and Finding Peace
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Show Notes Transcript

Purpose & Passion
Love & Relationships
Health & Well Being
Freedom and Fulfilment

Stroke Survivors, Healing and Finding Peace

Angie marches to the beat of her own drum. She's a driven and devoted mother of three who had a massive stroke at 46, despite being an active, otherwise healthy woman. She had a career she loved and thrived in, one she never expected to be ripped away without warning. Following more than 20 successful years as a public relations professional, she took a career detour and co-authored a book about marketing to Gen Z. She had plans of traveling the world to speak about this topic ~ one she had so much passion for. But the Universe had other plans.

Then in 2017, two months after a right-side ischemic (is sche mia) stroke requiring emergency brain surgery to remove a blood clot, she faced an even more formidable foe while trying to recover and return to work.  She experienced debilitating anxiety and depression and at the height of her anguish, she spent two back-to-back stints at in-patient mental health facility.

Since early childhood, she'd been a vibrant, energetic, inspirational force of nature. But the sudden onset of anxiety and depression following her stroke temporarily robbed her of that essence. She felt numb inside, and the simple act of existing physically hurt! Her brain seemed to be betraying her.

Now, Angie is sharing her story—to help others ~ heal and find inner peace.  Know that they do not have to struggle alone and that there is hope.

Angie's website:

Angie's Gifts:


Moira's Website:

Create the Life you Love FB Community:

Reiki Long Distance Healing:

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Intro: Welcome to the Heart Soul Wisdom podcast, a journey of self discovery and transformation. Moira Sutton and her amazing guests share real life stories, tools, and strategies to inspire and empower you to create and live your best life. Come along on the journey and finally blast through any fears, obstacles, and challenges that have held you back in the past so you can live your life with the joy, passion, and happiness that you desire. Now, here's your host. Create the life you love. Empowerment life coach Moira Sutton.

Moira: Five Episode 95 Stroke survivors healing and finding peace with author Stroke advocate Angie Read. Angie marches to the beat of her own drum. She's a driven and devoted mother of three children who had a massive stroke at the age of 46. Despite her being active and otherwise a healthy woman, she had a career she loved and she thrived in one that she never expected to be ripped away without any warning. Following more than 20 successful years as a public relations professional, she took a career detour and coauthored a book about marketing to Gen Z. She had plans of traveling the world to speak about this one she had so much passion for, but the universe had other plans. Then, in 2017, two months after a right side. Ischemic.

Angie: ischemic

Moira: You know what? There you go. Thank you. We're being real. That's what this is about. People like stroke requiring emergency brain surgery to remove a blood clot, she faced an even more bigger foe. While trying to recover and return to work, she experienced debilitating anxiety and depression. And at the height of her anguish, she spent two back-to-back stints at an impasse patient mental health facility. Since early childhood, she's been vibrant, energetic, and an inspirational force of nature. But this sudden onset of anxiety and depression following her stroke temporarily robbed her of that essence. She felt numb inside, and the simple act of existing physically hurt her. Her brain seemed to be betraying her. Now, Angie's here today, as you just heard, Angie, help me say that word is sharing her story to help others heal and find their inner peace and know that they do not have to struggle alone and that there is hope. I love that message. So, without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Angie Reed. Welcome, Angie.

Angie: Thank you so much. Hi there.

Moira: Hi. You know what? I practiced that word. You know how you can go on Google and hear how they say it?

Angie: Oh, yeah, I do that all the time.

Moira: Yeah, I did it about a couple of hours ago, so there you go. My brain didn't pick it up, but that's okay.

Angie: No worries.

Moira: Yeah, no worries. Why don't we start at the beginning here, Angie. What happened on that day, that fateful day of July 25, 2017? What happened? What did you experience? And then what did that CAT scan reveal? So, a couple of questions in there. I'm a little chunker. You'll soon see that.

Angie: Okay. And I hope I remember the second part as I go through. Sometimes it goes in one ear and out the other sometimes. But anyway. Yeah. On July 25, 2017, I woke up at 630 in the morning, planning to get up and try to take a shower and go to work. But I couldn't get out of the bed, and I couldn't figure out why I wasn't able to get out of the bed. And just in the course of just trying to get up like I normally did, I realized that the left side of my body was completely gone. There was a hand on my stomach. And I felt the hand. It was my hand, but I couldn't tell. I was like, whose hand is that? Because I couldn't feel it. And it was just so strange because it's like, that's a woman's hand. What is a woman doing in bed with me? Anyway? So, my husband, I woke him up because I was kind of wiggling the bed, trying to get out. And then he asked me something, and I tried to talk to him, and my speech was all garbled. And then he said, that doesn't sound right. I think you sound drunk. But it was 630 in the morning, so, of course, I wasn't drunk. And so, he got up, turned on the light, and he said, your face looks like it's melting on the left side. I'm calling 911. You're having a stroke? And, yeah, I was in complete denial because I just thought, there's no way. I mean, that just didn't register in my mind. And I thought at first, I just was having trouble waking up, that I was still just half asleep. So, I told them, don't call 911. Because, of course, we're like, yeah, I don't want to over exaggerate or something, but when they got there and they asked me a couple of questions, they said, yeah, you're having a stroke. So, I went in, they did a CT scan and found two clots, one in my neck and one in my brain. And so, they rushed me into surgery to do a medical thrombectomy, where they go up. It's a laser guided scope that goes up through the artery in your groin, and they laser guide it all the way into your brain, and then they go through the clot and then pull it out. It's fascinating, but probably within an hour or so of that surgery, I was awake, and I was moving some of my left side again. So, it was very fast. We are so lucky. I'm so lucky that my husband noticed the signs right away. He did not hesitate to call 911. Thank God because it could have been much worse. They told me it was such a severe stroke, I could have died. If I hadn't been in a place where they could do that type of surgery, it would have been much worse. I don't remember the rest of the questions.

Moira: No, that's okay. And you think about right now, and I'll get back in there. But when you're saying that when we've had this COVID people that can't get surgery or get in hospitals, like, yeah, you were kind of blessed with the timing then.

Angie: Oh, yeah.

Moira: So really, you're telling me what you experienced, like, with your face and that whole left side and what they told you happened there. So, what causes a stroke, and how can strokes be prevented?

Angie: There are so many typical risk factors for stroke, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, just a bunch of other with me, I didn't have any of the typical risk factors. I didn't have family history. My cholesterol was fine. My blood pressure has always been perfect. And then when they kind of worked down the checklist and asked me if I was on birth control pills, yes, I was. And so, they kind of said, okay, that's what caused it. Birth control pills can increase your risk of stroke. I didn't know this. I was 46 years old. I should not have been on birth control and kind of angry that my doctor didn't mention that I shouldn't be on it. Anyway, I'm not blaming anybody, but also, if you are a migraine sufferer, and I've always been a migraine sufferer, and they call it migraines with aura, where you get a telltale sign that a migraine is coming on. And my aura is a blind spot in my left eye that I get, and it's usually in the shape of a c. Anyway, if you're a migraine with aura sufferer and you're on birth control pills, it's kind of like a double whammy. And then if you add on something like smoking, which I don't do, but that can increase your risk factors tenfold.

Moira: I would think stress is also a biggie.

Angie: Stress. And I'm pretty sure stress had something to do with mine, too. I was in a very stressful career. I've always worked in a pressure cooker environment, and I'd always kind of thrived on stress. But I think it caught up to me.

Moira: Right. There's you. Stress, right. And distress. And I think you mentioned in your book, and thank you for your book, wonderful book, invisible scars. We're going to put that up and where people can pick that up, that you are also a perfectionist.

Angie: Yes. That's not necessarily a gift. It can be a curse.

Moira: I found that when I was younger, in my marriage and everything, too, that I wanted everything perfect. Like my eye needed things even. I still have things like that, like in my office, pens on crayons in a certain way, like for drawing my crystals, all leading the same way. My brain likes that. It doesn't like chaos. But I'm not the same with people doing different chores. Maybe there's some breadcrumbs on the floor or something before that would drive me nuts. Now I'm just like, just kick it aside right now. Don't let that bother you. So, what happened the days that followed with all this, I think you mentioned you went through denial, wonder, fear, faith, concern and confidence. And then you realized, or you didn't realize at first, that this is a new normal was on its way. What happened there?

Angie: Yeah, like I said, I was very lucky that they caught it so early and so I didn't have too much lasting physical damage or physical. Sorry, I can't think of the word. Sometimes this happens, too.

Moira: Is aphasia that word?

Angie: No, just physical. I guess I didn't have too many physical tell signs of a stroke. So, I went through about two months of intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy. And the speech therapy really helped me get my face back because my face had that telltale droop. And I was just very lucky that I got all of that back. I can walk, I can talk, I can use all of my limbs. And so, once I felt like, okay, I look normal again. I don't need to walk with a cane because I did for a while. And so, it was about two months of recovery, and then I was like, okay, it's time to go back to work because I've always been kind of a workaholic and I pushed myself. I went back at two months, two months post stroke, and I thought I was ready. I completely thought I was ready to get back into it. And because I've always been in corporate communications and public relations, I work with words. And when I got back to work. What I noticed was that words on the page just weren't making as much sense to me, and it was hard to. I was also editing my first book. I had written a book called Marketing to Gen Z, and I was doing some edits on it, and I just realized my brain was not just computing the things that I had computed before. My brain just wasn't working as quickly. So, I thought I had brain damage. I was like, oh, great, I have lasting brain damage from the stroke, so I'll probably never work again. And I just doomsday it. I tried, though. I stayed working for a couple of months, and then I was hit with just debilitating anxiety and depression. I didn't know it at the time. I just knew that I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating. Those are some side effects of stroke, too, sometimes. And so not getting the rest I needed for my brain to heal, not getting the nutrition I needed for my brain and body to heal and function. It was kind of a toxic cocktail of things that were happening to me, and plus the stress and pressure I was putting on myself to get my book finished and published. I had what I call a nervous breakdown. I think that's what they used to call it. I don't know, but I can't put my finger on exactly. I just lost my grip on reality, and I couldn't function. I found myself in a puddle at the bottom of the stairs sometimes, or just crumpled over, hugging my knees to my chest, rocking back and forth to self soothe because I was so devastated. Yeah, it was awful. Eventually, I almost took my own life, and so I had to be hospitalized a couple of times for my mental health because I was in crisis and had to go back on disability leave again for mental health because the first time was for the stroke. But so, yeah, it was completely unexpected, completely out of the blue, because these things had not been issues for me prior to my stroke. So, it's like my stroke got struck by lightning or something and just turned on this switch of horrendous anxiety and depression.

Moira: I know you mentioned. I'm just really listening, and frankly, I have tears in my eyes. Like, I feel your emotion. Yeah, I'm an empath, so I'm feeling it anyway, but wow. And then it can happen to anybody. That's the thing. My whole thing. My husband went through prostate cancer, and then he went back in a couple of days later after this major surgery. Then he had two stints put on his heart because, anyway, long story short, it was a wake-up call. Like, hey, we need to start doing what we want in our life because we also work very hard. We're being entrepreneurs for years, and we just didn't stop working.

Angie: Right, right.

Moira: I thought, I want to stop this, and now I know I speak about it, but I have to create healthy boundaries every day, especially with my 96-year-old mother who lives in the lower level of the house, because otherwise, you're doing, doing, and I can feel it. Like when you talked about that aura on your left eye over that area. I know that when I have my left eye, when you said that when I start getting pain, I don't get headaches, but above my head there, I know it's saying stop. Like, is a stressor saying, stop. Now go walk in nature. Stop. Don't do the dishes. Don't do anything for anybody. Stop. So, I have that there. Now, you talked about with your family history, that you had a history of anxiety and depression, and that you had been diagnosed with anxiety 50 years, 15 one five years before your first stroke. How does depression change the brain's biochemical? I'm having an issue today with speaking myself. I'll just say it again. Biochemical balance, which does alter, distorts your perception. How does that work with the brain? Do you know, with anxiety and depression how it does that?

Angie: I don't know scientifically how it does that. I just know that it does. And I did have anxiety before my stroke, but I had never had depression, period. I've always been a very upbeat, positive, glass half full person. The anxiety that I had had prior and I was on a low dose medication for it was really probably a result of being a mother of three and working all the time and just having a high pressure, high paced life. But it was not generalized anxiety disorder. It was just occasional anxiety. And my doctor put me on this low dose med that always controlled it. I was fine. And then I had the stroke, and boom, everything exploded in my brain, and it came out in a massive, massive way. And then being hit with depression at the same time as anxiety, that's a double whammy when you have anxiety and depression at the same time. So, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and major depression depressive disorder. And originally, I asked my neurologist, my first neurologist, I went to him for one of my checkups after my stroke, and I said, something is wrong. I had not had these symptoms before the stroke. So, the stroke did something to my brain, and he looked at me and he said, no, that's psychological, not neurological. I can't help you. And he got up and walked out of the office. Wow. And I was bawling my head off. My husband was there with me. We were trying to get answers. And the fact that he just dismissed me like that was so just demoralizing and just made it worse that I didn't feel seen and heard. And long story short, about eight months after my first stroke, I had a second, much more minor stroke. And I didn't have any of the telltale signs of a stroke. I just had a headache. I was kind of hazy all day. And I got in a car accident that was completely my fault. I ran a red light, hit a guy, totally T boned his car. Both of us walked away, thank goodness. But they took me to the ER just because I told them I had just recently had a stroke and that I was also on blood thinners. And I was a little worried about what the possible damage from the car accident could be because I hadn't dealt with that before. So, they took me to the ER. They did a CT scan of my head, even though I hadn't hit my head in the accident. And then that prompted the on call or on staff neurologist to give me an MRI. And she came into the room after reviewing my MRI and looked at me and said, oh, my goodness. She said, your scans, your previous scans, your brain does not tell the same picture that is right in front of me. I expected to come in here and see a woman who couldn't walk or couldn't talk. She goes, wow, you've got so much scar tissue. But I hate to tell you, but you've had new stroke activity. And to this day, I still don't know exactly what new stroke activity means. There were some small spots on my brain, but it did count as a second stroke. But I asked her because she was very kind. I felt like she was very empathetic, super kind. And I said, hey, since I've got you here, you're a neurologist. What's the connection between anxiety and depression and stroke? Is there a connection at all? And she said, oh, absolutely. At least one third to one half of stroke survivors will experience post stroke anxiety and post stroke depression. And she said, it is a biochemical reaction in the brain. She said, also, it can be caused from the stroke, like, just your life changing so dramatically and that. But it also is biochemical in the brain. So, she gave me confirmation that day that my stroke had caused my anxiety and depression. While that really didn't do anything, it didn't fix anything. It gave me an answer, and I felt seen and heard. So, on the spot, I said, hey, can I switch neurologists? Can you be my neurologist going forward? And she said, of course. To me, that's a big lesson than being your own advocate for your own health. You do not have to stay with doctors that don't treat you right and don't respect you. And I don't care if they're neurologists. I don't care who they are. You don't have to stick with them just because you were automatically assigned that doctor when you had your emergency.

Moira: Yeah, that's a good point. Here in Nova Scotia, you can't even get a doctor. But if you do, either you that being seen and heard and they, you know when you're seen and heard, when somebody's listening to you and they care, but to get up and walk out. Thank God you found this other neurologist. I worked in the mental health field a long time ago. My degree is in psychology and social work and all the rest of it. Do you think there's. Because you went into the mental health facility back-to-back, do you think there's still. People think of that in a certain way, mental illness, they have a bad thought about it?

Angie: Yeah, I think there's still this stigma assigned to it, for sure. And I was kind of living proof of that because when I was in Cris, it was very traumatic for my family to see me like that and have to deal with me because I was also manic and I'd lost touch with reality and I thought everyone was lying to me. It was exhausting. The whole cycle was exhausting. My family was exhausted. When I went into the facility for the first time, my husband put a post out on Facebook to all my friends and family, just saying Angie's had another side effect from the stroke. She really needs your help. He didn't mention that I'd gone into mental health facilities, but when I found out, he posted that, I was so angry because I was just like, no, don't tell everyone that. Because now I have to explain to everybody that I had to get this therapy and I didn't want people feeling sorry for me, like I had a physical disability, something else from the stroke. And I didn't want to admit to people or share with people that it was mental health because I thought it just made me look weak and like I just couldn't handle my life. And I was embarrassed and shame on me for that, but I've learned, and once I did open up with family later on after the crisis was over. I just shared that. I just was worried what everyone was going to think and say about me. And I also didn't want to have to explain to everybody what had happened because it was such an exhausting ordeal. And it took me a long time to get my mental health back to a place where I felt really strong.

Moira: And I think I remember reading when you went in the first time you more or less did everything that you were supposed to so you could get out versus the second time you knew that you needed help. So, you used the facility to get back whatever your goals were and your intentions. I shared that with other people because I thought I told you just earlier that my mom, they think she had a mini stroke and she was doing everything she could to get out of there. But when she got home, she's home, so she wasn't doing her physio and eating and all those things, but she knew in there she had to do it or she couldn't get out. So, her key. But I think that's a great point that you shared and also what your family went through. But you also had, like you said, team Angie, like you have your family and people cheering you on. Kudos to you to share this story, because as this is part of your life's work, to help others find that peace and healing in their life and know that there's hope and know that you're not alone, because that in itself is very scary.

Angie: Yeah. And when you're admitted to an inpatient mental health facility, the whole goal of that program is to get you past and through the crisis. It's not necessarily to give you intense therapy while you're in there. You get some group therapy. You get a couple of appointments with a psychiatrist or psychologist, and they're just trying to mitigate the cris and get you set up for when you get out, you maybe have some ongoing care to help you. It was very traumatic being the first time. Well, both times it was very traumatic because I was surrounded by people who had schizophrenia or who had attempted suicide or people who were detoxing. And I just felt like I didn't belong there. I just felt like I had just lost my grip and that I wasn't able to handle things and I was very self critical. But I thought, I don't belong here. I'm not as bad as these people. What am I doing here? I'm taking up a bed that I probably shouldn't be. I don't belong here. But if they admit you, it's because you do belong there. And then it's so lonely and scary being in places like that. There's really nothing to do. I guess you could do puzzles or play cards with people. They also had a lot of adult coloring books, and none of those activities appealed to me. So, I would just kind of sit in my room and I'd go to all the different activities during the day that they had planned. But those places are scary, lonely, and not meant to cure you, I guess I should say.

Moira: There's always something going on. Nurses going by beepers, like hospitals you want to be in very long, or mental health facilities. Are that because. Yeah, I would think it'd be scary every time your family went home. And like you said, why am I here? I don't belong here. I'm not like those other people.

Angie: Yeah, I was like, I'm a successful career woman. What am I doing here? I lost my cool, and I would just say that I didn't belong there anyway. So those places, they are meant to get you through the crisis, but then you have to do a lot of work on yourself after. So, I had a psychiatrist that I had started seeing right before my hospitalization, and I really liked him, so I kept going to him. I went to an intensive outpatient therapy group for anxiety and depression. It was three nights a week, 3 hours at a time for six, no, twelve weeks, I think.

Moira: Wow, that's intensive.

Angie: Yeah, it's intensive outpatient therapy, or an OT, I think, anyway. But I needed that, and that is really what helped me get over the hump. And then I started seeing a therapist, one on one, twice a week, and talk therapy. And so also my psychiatrist. We kept trying different combinations of medicines because the anxiety medicine that I had been on prior to my stroke was doing nothing for me. So, it took a psychiatrist, not my primary care physician, to understand what was going on in my brain and really help figure out what combination of medications could help me get through it. And so, I'm a big proponent of if you need medication, don't feel bad, and don't think there's a stigma. It's just like if you had cancer, you would probably get chemotherapy, or if you had diabetes, you would probably need insulin. Well, if you have mental health issues crisis, you might need medication to get you through it. I certainly did, and I still do. It keeps me balanced, it keeps me on track, and I still use a lot of the tools that I learned in therapy and my intensive outpatient program, too, to make sure that my mental health stays solid and strong.

Moira: That's wonderful. I think there's many complementary therapies that you mentioned in your book for stroke survivors. And you had an experience with CBD and medical marijuana supplements for anxiety and depression. And I think you and your husband even opened a store because you so much supported that. Is that correct?

Angie: Yes. So, CBD did help kind of reduce my anxiety and depression along with my psych meds. And then when I was on disability, I was going stir crazy and I felt like my depression was growing worse because I wasn't busy and I wasn't working and I wasn't the busy, productive, successful Angie that I'd always been. And I needed a purpose. I needed something to hook onto that I could engage my brain and do something. And so, once I noticed that CBD helped kind of calm me down a little bit, I just said, okay, this is what we need to do. We need to open a store because I can't do anything half ***. And the great thing is opening that store and just little by little retraining my brain to do things, just like counting back change to a customer. So first, before we opened a CBD store, I worked at the CBD store part time where I purchased my CBD and I got some experience under my belt and got to build my confidence little by little, baby step by baby step. I mean, really, honestly, my confidence disappeared and I didn't even know if I could count back change correctly. I would count change twice or three times just to make sure I was getting it right.

Moira: So you learned a lot before you even opened your store. That's wonderful experience under your belt. Wow. Yeah. You talked about in your book also about at one stage you had a determination to heal. And I like people to hear that because you said it was the first step on the road to recovery is acceptance, courage, and to accept your present reality while you're striving to overcome the hurdle of what just happened. And you created a determination, toolbox, motivation. What is this and how did you reach out to get that? How did you make your mind that you were determined to heal what was either a ha ha moment or a turning point that you said, no, this isn't defining me. I'm going to heal one moment there that you just said, I've heard that with people in the past where they just said, no, this is what I'm doing. And they're very firm. I don't know if you had a turning point that happened.

Angie: There wasn't one specific turning point, but when I reached the point of almost taking my life one night, and thankfully, not listening to my brain and the lies it was telling me, because when you're in cris like that and you are thinking about taking your own life, nothing makes sense. Your brain is lying to you. That's telling you the world would be better off without you. It's telling you just horrible, dark things. And I just kept thinking in my brain, this is not my legacy. My legacy is not to take my own life. This is not what I'm supposed to do. It just was kind of some words in the back of my brain that just kept ringing true. And so, I didn't follow through on that, thankfully. So maybe it was reaching a rock bottom. That was my turning point. I can't ever go back there. I never, ever want to be in a mental health facility again, ever in my life. So, I think it was just that, hey, this was my rock bottom. I've got to pick myself up, got to keep going. And that's honestly my. I'm writing a book right now called Rise Mastering the Art of resilience. Because I've just always had resilience. I've had to be resilient my entire life. Lots and lots of stuff I've gone through, and most of us have, right? Maybe not huge, big, traumatic things, but we all have to be resilient somehow. But for a long time, I just kept saying, like, why me? Or I missed the old me so much. Probably that first year, I was so angry at the universe for taking my career and my identity with me because I didn't think I could work again. I didn't think I could write. I didn't think I could do anything in corporate communications, because I did feel like I had some brain damage or something, even though I went through a bunch of cognitive tests and they showed no cognitive loss. So, thankfully, there's that. But, yeah, no one defining moment. I think somebody mentioned to me, I did hire a career coach to kind of help me through that transition of, okay, I have to stay out of high-pressure jobs. My doctor basically wouldn't let me go back to a high stress job. She said, it will kill you next time, so you cannot keep pushing and pushing and pushing yourself. Sorry, I lost my train of thought.

Moira: No, it happens to me.

Angie: I know it's funny because I can say, oh, it's stroke brain, but really, it's probably just being in my 50s.

Moira: I'm also, as a little chunker, I'll go on and say something, and then if I get really passionate about something and I get into it. I literally go blank. And I've done that on stages, speaking. And then people say, did you just forgot what you're going to say? And I said, yeah, I did.

Angie: Yeah.

Moira: It's just being a human.

Angie: Exactly. We're all just.

Moira: Yeah. Oh.

Angie: But what I was saying was my career coach said, you know, Angie, you keep talking about the old you and missing the old Angie. She's like, but the new Angie is pretty fabulous. And the new Angie has no limits. So stop playing that same narrative in your head over and over again that you're not the same. Because, yes, you're not necessarily exactly the same or able to do the exact same things that you could do before, but you're still alive, you're still here. You still have a purpose. So, let's find that joy again. Stop focusing on the old you. And I think that that is so profound because something like that, any kind of trauma is going to change you as a person. And then just being able to look at life and say, okay, I don't have to make so much money. I don't have to be in such a high-pressure situation anymore. My career does not define me. I define myself. And that is part of being resilient.

Moira: That's a big part of empowering yourself. Like you said, I define me.

Angie: Yes.

Moira: And if we don't define ourselves or define, as I said earlier, about healthy boundaries and all the rest of it, somebody else will step in and do it. Like somebody else say, right, well, you're this person or you're this, or you look a certain way or all those things. And then in our society, how instead of celebrating each age group as we get older and our wisdom, which this show is all about, heart, soul wisdom, instead of trying to get back when you were, I don't know, 30 or 40 or anything like that, that's part of the journey every day. It's not about getting that back because like you said, you're a new person every day. Our cells are changing every day and rejuvenating now just because I brought it up. The determination to heal, just some of the things, when they get the book, it's on page 39. You talk about in your toolbox, things like motivation, patience, attitude and altitude. That's a good one.

Angie: Yeah.

Moira: Openness, advocacy, focus, resilience, which you talked about bouncing back. That's important. Diet and lifestyle. Did you really have to change your diet? I'm sure you had to change your lifestyle, but did you go like vegan. Did you do anything extreme or did you just continue eating healthy?

Angie: Yeah, I think I didn't really change my eating habits too much. I didn't have horrible eating habits before, but just now I'm more mindful about trying to be healthy because I know it's going to help keep me alive. And when you kind of have a brush with your own mortality, you start thinking about all those things. And I love to listen to Mel Robbins, and she said something about motivation is a bunch of really? We never stay motivated. I think that was what she was talking to. You have to work at it. You have to make it happen. It's not willpower, it's taking action. So your actions dictate where you're going to go. So, motivation requires active participation in your journey and your recovery. The one thing in my toolbox, when I talk about patience, it's so funny, because I've never, ever in my life been a patient person. If I want it, I want it now. No, if I want it, I want it yesterday, and nobody's going to stand in my way. And patience is just one of those things that after a stroke, you can't rush. Your brain's healing. Every brain is going to heal on its own timeline. You can do things to move it forward and move forward in your recovery, but you can't rush the process. Your brain is going to heal in its own time. And that's a very hard thing to come to terms with because you want to be better right now. And with mental health, it's the same thing. You want the medicine to work right now, and it takes time. It took over a year for my psychiatrist and I to figure out the right combination of medications that would keep me even and healthy. It's just grit. It's grit and it's being honest with yourself and trying new things.

Moira: Yeah, that's interesting. Being honest with yourself again, I know my listening audience, who they are, and that part is just really fully accepting yourself, the good, the bad, the ugly, whatever you want to call it, if you want to label it, but just accept just the beautiful human being that you are. I think there's speakers who say, you're beloved. I like that, that we're loved so much, and we came into this universe for a reason. We all have this purpose, and this has been part of your purpose. And with that being said, did you come to that conclusion that there was? Because I believe there's a gift in everything. The challenges, the ups and downs, the things that we do not see as a gift. Did you see this as a big gift for yourself, this whole experience in the moment?

Angie: I didn't. But now hindsight is 2020, so I thank God that I went through what I did because I learned so much, because a couple of years after my mental health crisis, my 20-year-old son, well, I think he was 18 at the time, had his own mental health crisis, and was telling people he was going to take his life. And so, I knew exactly what to do to step in and help him and take it super seriously. And we went and had him evaluated at the mental health facility, and he qualified for outpatient, the intensive outpatient program. He wasn't suicidal at the moment, so they didn't admit him and he didn't have a plan for taking his own life, and so they didn't admit him. The good news is, because I had been through it myself and now, I knew where to take him, what doctors could see him, because I got him immediately into my psychiatrist. And it's just I had the tools in my toolbox to know what to do to help him. And so, I'm just so thankful that I was able to go through it myself so I could also have empathy for it. Because if you've never been through severe anxiety or depression, you don't understand. You think it's just somebody stressed out. Well, yeah, we all get stressed out in life. It's not normal stress. It's anxiety that takes over your body and makes you feel like you're constantly having a panic attack or, you know, that feeling that you get when you almost run into another car or you have a near missed car accident. And that heightened sense of emotion and that feeling in your body, that's what anxiety feels like. Twenty-four seven and then depression also. It's not just being sad. It's not just being down in the dumps. It's not just having a blue day. It's complete loss of joy in anything you're doing. For me, I wasn't even sad. I was like a flatlined personality. I had no joy, no sadness, no emotional reaction, period. And as a positive, upbeat person, my whole life, getting hit with that was the strangest feeling. And it was just so debilitating because I didn't understand my own body, my own mind anymore. But now I forgot the question.

Moira: No, that's okay. And thank you for sharing, by the way, about your son. That's very vulnerable to share that. I know it's in your book, but for other people to hear that, because you were a gift for there to know how to help him at that moment, because a lot of people would not know, or maybe, I don't know, they could have gone another route.

Angie: It could have. But at least I had the tools. I can understand him so well because I've been exactly in his shoes. And so, we have a very good relationship where now he comes to me when he feels his mental health getting a little shaky or something. But I've taught him the kind of the tips and tools that work for me and he uses those as well to manage his own mental health. Like staying on a routine, journaling, meditating, getting exercise, getting fresh air, listening to positive music. There's a bunch, I've written a short, short book called Mental Health Hacks. Ten easy hacks to help manage anxiety and depression. Yeah. And it's just ten things. Simple, easy things that anybody can do on a daily basis just to manage their own mental health.

Moira: Is that an eBook, Angie?

Angie: Yeah, it is available on Amazon as well.

Moira: Okay.

Angie: And another thing, sorry, just to kind of answer the rest of the question. So, yeah, I did try to go back into corporate communications and corporate public relations again after my stroke, and I've had several jobs in that area, but to be honest, I just haven't been able to find the same kind of fulfillment that I used to out of my job. I just didn't get the same joy out of working myself to the bone because my brain just can't handle that. My body can't handle that anymore. Because one of the things that happens after stroke as well is post stroke fatigue. And the fatigue is just overwhelming where you almost just pass out on the spot. And it's hard to have post stroke fatigue and get over that. And I still have it. I still go to bed now at like 08:00 at night because my brain is like, I'm done because it's still trying to make new neuro connections and heal itself or heal your scar tissue. Any kind of cells in the brain that are dead do not regenerate themselves. What happens is your brain forms new connections around the scar tissue. And so, it's always constantly, for even years and years after your stroke, trying to make new correction, sorry, connections and neuropathways and just trying to heal itself around the scar tissue. It's amazing what the brain can do. But I got laid off from my most recent job in September of 2023, and it was kind of a wake-up call for me and it actually was almost a blessing. And I kind of felt a sense of calm when I got the news because I knew, I think, in my gut, that I was destined for something else, that I needed to be helping stroke survivors. And so that's when I took it kind of a sabbatical. As soon as I got the news about getting laid off for my job, I took two weeks and went to Arizona, where my daughter goes to college. But also, I went to college at Arizona State. And so, I just wanted to go to the desert. Something about the desert just kind of. It's peaceful and it clears my mind. And for two weeks, I went by myself, stayed in a friend's guest house, and just got to decompress and really focus on what really mattered in my life and what my values were and how I wanted to align what I do with my values and my gifts. And so, I launched a coaching business, life coaching business, for stroke survivors from that time in Arizona. I spent basically all day, every day taking online coaching courses to become a certified life. I just. I haven't looked back since, and I'm still writing books. I'm just about to finish my fourth. I don't know if I'll write anymore after this because I kind of feel like I've said what I need to say because I also wrote a book called Identity Crisis. You are not your career. Because, like I think I've said, I lost who I was when I thought I couldn't work anymore or do the career that I'd always done and that I'd been cultivating for 30 years. I really lost who I was because I'm not a big person who has a lot of outside hobbies and things like that. It was always kind of about work or raising my kids. And by the time I had my stroke, my kids were older. My youngest was just going into or my oldest was going into college. My youngest was going into eighth grade. So, they weren't little. They didn't need constant mommy attention. So, I didn't have that diversion. I just realized I didn't have much else in my life. So, I had to refocus and figure out what truly, truly mattered to me. Because it's not all about money and success. That was a hard one. My ego had to take kind of a big blow because if I'm not the successful Angie, making a lot of know, having success and accolades in my career, who am?

Moira: Yeah.

Angie: Yeah. I'm much more than, and I. Now I know that. Now I know it in my heart. And I'm following my passion to help other stroke survivors, especially female stroke survivors, because so many of us completely lose all confidence in ourselves when something like this happens. So, I started a private Facebook group called Confidence after crisis. And it's just female stroke survivors and we share stories, we uplift each other. And then I get some coaching clients from that that work with me one on one or take my online program that I've also created since September. And it's just very fulfilling. And I like being able to use my story to help other people because nobody, I couldn't find any resources online or anywhere else about post stroke anxiety and post stroke depression. So, I decided that's what I had to be an advocate for and let people know. It's so common. It's so common. And actually, suicide rates are higher among stroke survivors than among the general population. And I see, I'm a member of a bunch of online stroke survivor groups, Facebook groups, and every single day somebody posts that they just want to end their life. And that's tragic. You make it through a stroke, you're here for a reason, and then you want to take your own life. That is horrible. We have to put a stop to that. We have to make sure medical professionals understand the severity of the conditions and try to get ahead of it. One of the things I would love to see happen, and it happens in some places, is when you go for your physical rehab, can you also get mental health help right away as part of the rehab process? Even if you're never going to have anxiety or depression, it's important to get in front of those issues so they don't hit you like a ton of bricks and derail your life completely. So, yeah, as you can tell, I'm pretty passionate about helping other people now. And it's crazy because everything just feels like it's falling into place naturally. I'm not forcing it. I'm just kind of following my heart and my soul.

Moira: Heart, soul wisdom. Yes.

Angie: And I'm much wiser. Much wiser now.

Moira: Yeah, for sure. My thing about this show would bring people like you on with your journey and your personal story, literally, to inspire and empower people to live their best life, whatever that means to them. And it's definitely money is money. It gives us things that we can do and we have bills to pay. But really, what do you really love in your life? What do you really want to experience? When this movement, this tiny house movement started, I thought, oh, I like that. Because, really, do you need the big three-story home and more to clean more to put furniture in? I know that when we moved down, there's a Nova Scotia here two and a half years ago, we moved down to. It's a bungalow. You wouldn't know it because on the back, it's all windows, and there's a lake behind us. But we got rid of a lot of things because there were so many windows here. There was no walls for art. Like, not many. So, we just gifted them to hospitals for raising money for hospitals and that. And when I see anything, I'm like, I can't really get that. Or I could get it, but where am I going to put it? It's just other stuff. Right? So, I'm all about getting rid of stuff. My background is Scottish, and I am not Scottish when it comes to that belief that Scottish people keep everything.

Angie: Oh, that's funny. Yeah. My husband and I, my youngest when she went off to college last year, we downsized. We sold our five bedroom, three story house and moved into just a ranch, three-bedroom, small, little house, and same thing. We got rid of so much stuff. It was amazing how much just stuff we had.

Moira: It is. It's stuff and clutter, and it clutters your mind. It clutters your whole energy field.

Angie: And it's crazy because I didn't have a lot of nostalgia about the things. I think once I realized that it's not about what you have. It's about who you are and who you have in your life. And so, when we downsized, I was just like, just get rid of it. Let's just donate everything. We did have a garage sale just to see, because we had some nice things that we were getting rid of. And so, we made a little bit of money, and then the rest, we took three big trailer loads full of just stuff to the donation sites. I don't miss.

Moira: Felt great.

Angie: It did. It felt so just like, this weight off of my shoulders, and there's not a single thing that I miss that I wish I would have kept. Not a single thing. So, yeah, it's about simplifying. It's about understanding what really matters in life. And I'm no longer trying to climb somebody else's ladder of success.

Moira: Oh, that's good.

Angie: Yeah.

Moira: So, with everything you just shared, Angie, I would love you to read from pages one and 176 conclude. And it kind of is a segue from everything you just shared in your passion and your wisdom about having a stroke is a harrowing, traumatic experience. So, if we can kind of end on that note, I would love people to hear your voice saying that.

Angie: Okay. Yeah. And I will do my best. I'm never going to say this out loud reader, but I'll do my best. Okay, I'll start with that sentence you just mentioned. Having a stroke is a harrowing, traumatic experience that can leave physical, psychological, financial, and relational devastation in its wake. Worse yet are the invisible scars that, if not correctly diagnosed, can drastically alter a person's mental and physical health for the rest of their lives. Poststroke anxiety and poststroke depression are two of the nastiest surprises after a stroke. But there is hope. With the proper diagnosis, medication, mood journaling, meditation, various self care strategies and therapy, you can overcome them, but you must put in the work. Do you want me to keep going?

Moira: If you want to. That's very good. I really wanted people to know thank you. That there is hope and that's how we started this healing and finding peace and hope. And you're not alone. That's a big message. I feel with our heartfelt conversation to first of know, thank you for sharing, Angie, really from your heart and soul, your wisdom on stroke survivors healing and finding peace, and the link to Angie and a gift that she'll be giving you and her programs will be below in the show notes. So, I want to say thank you and Namaste, Angie.

Angie: Oh, thank you so much. You too, Namaste.

Moira: Thank you.

Outro: Thank you for listening to the Heart Soul Wisdom podcast with Moira Sutton. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Please join our community@moirasutton.com and continue the discussion on our Facebook page. Create the life you love. You will be part of a global movement connecting with other heart centered people who are consciously creating the life they love on their own terms. Together, we can raise our consciousness for the greater good of humanity and for our planet.