Finding My Why



Photo of Delanie Stephenson

In the days and weeks of 2012, right after my stroke at age 33, I was locked in my own body with no one to talk to except my consciousness and God. I asked myself questions: “Why me?” and “What did I do to deserve this?” And asked God, “I’m not a bad person, so, out of everyone in the world, why’d you have to pick me?” Then my questions turned to anger. “If you’re gonna do this to me God, I’m gonna turn my back on you.” I just couldn’t believe that a loving God could do this to a young wife and mother.

In the years since the stroke, my anger has calmed. Still that one question remained: “Why me?” During this time, I was driving, taking care of the kids the best that I could and writing my first book, but that “why” question nagged me. Am I just supposed to try (not too successfully) to clean and do laundry every day for the rest of my life? Is that all? I wanted a purpose.

I started to share my story at churches, civic organizations and stroke support groups. I would talk to anyone who would listen. It was like therapy to me. One talk turned into more, and before I knew it, I had several speaking engagements. My calendar exploded! Before I knew it, I had written a second book. Finally, I started to get it. I had figured out my why.

I have had wonderful opportunities to meet people from all over the world, in person and via Facebook. I talked to a family in Pakistan the other day! I try to be an encourager and motivator, to help caregivers understand why their loved ones are acting the way they do. It’s an awesome feeling to be the first stroke survivor another survivor has ever talked to — we get each other. We understand the physical and emotional effects of stroke that the outside world doesn’t. It’s like that saying when we were kids, “Takes one to know one.”

Today I met with Rhonda. Long story short, we went to the same school. She graduated before me, but her sister was in my class, so I knew who Rhonda was. She had had a stroke about three years ago. We shared our stories — a lot of them were similar — as well as our frustrations throughout our stroke journey. We swapped stories about bedpans, so that made us friends for life! We hugged, we laughed, we cried. I have found my why.

When unfortunate things happen in our lives, it is natural to wonder why. We try to see what we could have done differently to avoid these bad situations. Sometimes, we don’t find the underlying reason, but if you are given a second chance at life, live! Don’t spend your time worrying about why it happened; live the life you have. Life is not perfect. Bad things happen, and sometimes we can’t stop them. But you have to keep on going for your family and friends, for you — especially for you.

Having a stroke ain’t easy, but I’m glad I had mine. I feel so much more and am thankful for every single moment. Do I have down days? Sure. But survivors keep trudging forward. Be the best you that you can be; don’t compare yourself to others. You’re you! Be proud! And before you realize it, you may find your why, too.

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Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

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Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-part series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try

Tips for Daily Living Library

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Caregiver Guide to Stroke

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Stroke Family Warmline

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Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Cerebellum

The cerebellum contains 80 percent of our neurons. Its job seems to be to make things better. We talked with neuroscientist Jeremy Schmahmann about how stroke affects the “little brain.”

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

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When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

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When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

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Departments

Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

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Life At The Curb

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Simple Cooking

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Helping Others Understand

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Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!