What or who are you pinning your hopes on?

Life after stroke.

The top news in the UK yesterday — well apart from the pathetic “race” to become the next clown to try and make Brexit work, (enough said about that) is that 75% of surviving stroke sufferers exhibit at least one mental health issue.

If you have experience of anyone after such a serious event, you will probably not be surprised. As a former hospital nurse, I witnessed the early days and therefore the immediate effects of a blood clot or bleed to the brain, but was not involved in the months and years following the initial accident and so was pretty unaware of the severity of the mental issues that follow.

That is until I had personal experience. You may be unlucky to be 1 of the 3 in 10 people where a blood clot causes sudden death; as in my own mother aged 56 years. Or you may survive but with a long term disability, like my elder brother aged 62. Often, with a stroke when the physical effects are minimal, the “scars” are not visible but they are there none-the-less. From the outside, survivors can appear perfectly restored, like my brother, but the hidden effects are present, similar to sufferers of any mental illness.

The slowness of thought, lack of confidence, feelings of low self-worth, memory gaps, poor concentration, self-loathing, loss of identity and/or purpose, quickness of temper, frustration, fatigue, social isolation are but a few of the feelings that must contribute to depression, anxiety and life-limiting thoughts.

Sadly, as with all mental illness, the provision for support is limited here in the UK with the funding allocated being a fraction of the budget compared to physical diseases.

You may already be aware of the tremendous variety of effective alternate and complimentary therapies that can and do provide solutions and support for people with mental health issues. Of course, they are not free, are rarely promoted by the medical profession, and are certainly not a one-size-fits-all model. However, if we are to address the growing numbers of people with mental health concerns, in my view, there has to be an integrated and holistic approach. Sadly, this is not the forte of conventional or allopathic medicine.

So it is clear that the NHS is not the place to rely on if you or someone you love is in this position. In fact, in my opinion, pinning your hopes on this fabulous but very overstretched service is a foolish tactic anyway.

Harsh but true.

You see the NHS sees 1 million people every 36 hours and the majority of hospital outpatients appointments are made as a result of us making poor lifestyle choices. We know the rising rates of obesity in the western world are impacting the growing rates of the most common illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, (including stroke), auto-immune disorders, cancer and endocrine disorders. So if we are to reduce the incidence, reduce the burden, reduce the risk, then we need to improve our self-care practices.

If you have to pay for your health care, there is even more reason to understand how simple lifestyle changes can and do make for a healthier and happier you.

“our wellbeing is our own business”

So, with love, if you are going to pin your hopes on anyone, let that person be YOU.

Gill is an international award winning speaker, author, broadcast presenter, Pilates teacher, nutritional expert and advocate for self–care.

Combining her experience in the conventional healthcare field with lifestyle and functional medicine, Gill is an expert in providing holistic solutions for the prevention and reversal of disease. Her interventions align with her ideal of building health rather than treating symptoms. She specializes in addressing the major health trends of the 21st century and is passionate about supporting others to spread this message worldwide; creating global transformation

Gill studied music as her first degree before qualifying as a Registered General Nurse (RGN) in the UK. She has been studying functional medicine for the past 7 years and her transformational work has been recognised with a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the AUGP (Academy of Universal Global Peace) A Peace Award from the UPF (Universal Peace Federation) and she is a member of the ATL (Association of Transformational Leaders) Europe and the WAoFP (Worldwide Association of Female Professionals)

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Dr. Gill Barham is an international award-winning author, speaker and trainer, broadcast presenter of the podcast Radiant Menopause, and Women’s health expert.