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.

What to Expect from Outpatient Rehab

After stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may consist of Several types of therapy. Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

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.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

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

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

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 Occipital Lobe

Our occipital lobe, the smallest of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, controls how we visually interpret our world.

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

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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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!