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Alcohol use post NASAH

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I'd like to start a topic on alcohol use after NASAH (mine was in September 2018).   I find myself drinking too much due to depression/stress and would like the support of the group, and to know if others are struggling with this as well. 

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  • Karen changed the title to Alcohol use post NASAH

Hey Diane, I'm guessing that it wasn't easy for you to post, so well done for your honesty! x


I do know of other SAH'ers in the past, who've also self medicated using alcohol, because they were finding life tough in the early months and years of recovery. I'm guessing that there are others on BTG now, experiencing the same,  but who would perhaps prefer to private message you, rather than using the forum in order to keep their privacy.


Firstly, I would say that you need to visit your GP and have a completely honest conversation with him/her. Let them know that you're struggling with your mental health and self medicating with alcohol in order to deal with either your anxiety and/or depression. 


It's pretty common post SAH/stroke to experience both anxiety and depression. Life has been turned upside down and there's also the trauma of the physical bleed on your brain and the brain's chemical issues that may have been affected.


I know that you're not in the UK, but I'm guessing that you have the HADS scale in the States.The HADS scale measures your anxiety and depression - The following is an example of the questions that you would answer -  https://www.svri.org/sites/default/files/attachments/2016-01-13/HADS.pdf


I truly believe that all SAH'ers should be given the HADS form by their GP to complete at different stages of their recovery. It also has to be answered completely honestly. 


We all like to think that we're invincable and don't like to admit that we're struggling with life, but in fact mental health is just as important as our physical wellbeing and the two go hand in hand.


The first port of call should be your GP. Be absolutely honest as to how you're feeling and make that phone call. It can sometimes just be a simple fix with a blood test. Vitamin deficiency  can also cause a myriad of problems with both your physical and mental wellbeing. If you're drinking alcohol excessively, it will also deplete essential vitamins and will cause you problems.


There's also the menopause to consider for us Ladies of a certain age, as that can also cause quite extreme mental health problems and these can also mirror SAH recovery problems with anxiety and depression... so don't put everything down to the SAH .... https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-menopause-causing-your-mood-swings-depression-or-anxiety/


Try to rule out with your GP any other causes for your low mood. 


I've never self medicated with alcohol, but had huge anxiety problems and it took me absolutely years to admit to the GP that I was struggling badly with anxiety. Plus the menopause kicked in and the hormones just went haywire! I also couldn't take HRT as I had horrific headaches from it. I was put onto an anti-depressant that also didn't work for me and I didn't want to repeat the experience for quite some while!


Finally, I was put on to a low dose of a med called Sertraline to treat my anxiety ... It took a little while to get used to it and you have to be patient, but it's been the absolute best thing ever for me! I took far too long to admit to the GP that I was struggling ... I guess that you have to get to a point where you just throw your hands up and have to surrender!


One size doesn't fit all ... I know that counselling is helpful to some and there are different avenues that you can go down and explore what suits you. You may not get it right the first time and it could take the odd fail, but you'll eventually find something that suits you and will help to make life easier for you.


Diane, you've been brave enough to post here, that you're not coping and that you're self medicating with alcohol. It's the first step and I hope that your second step will be making the call to your GP. You will feel much better for biting the bullet and it's not as scary as you think.


Sending you hugs and love.x




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Hi Diane,


Welcome to BTG, first of all I would like to say a big well done for your bravery in coming to this forum for help and support, as Karen said it must have taken a lot of courage to post this, but it is good that you have and I am sure you will get a lot of support from all of us here as a large number of us have and still do suffer with the affects of depression/anxiety.


My bleed was due to a ruptured aneurysm and I myself have had real problems with depression and anxiety plus I was diagnosed with PTSD, which was diagnosed during my counselling sessions that I had after going to my doctor, the counselling really did help.


As Karen said you do need to have a honest and frank discussion with your doctor about what is going on and how you are feeling and struggling since your bleed, they will help you and be able to put you on a path to getting the help you need.


I am going to send you a PM, there will be a little marker comes up on the envelope at the top right hand side of page.


You have taken the first brave step, now please try and be brave enough to speak to your doctor.

Sending love & hugs

Michelle. Xx

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Hi there


I'm with Karen and Michelle, huge well done on your bravery.. know it couldn't have been easy but good for you on taking the first step & knowing there is a problem ...yes, please speak with your doctor....


Be brave we're here for you.:thumbsup:

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Hi Diane


I completely echo everything that has been said.


One of the first things I did when I came of my meds was drink! Not so much during the week as I was working, but Friday and Saturday nights, Sunday lunch times - it was getting out of hand and the worse part about it, the more I drank, the worse I felt.  I had that open and honest conversation with my GP and was referred for counselling - after the GP pointed out that alcohol is a depressant, so instead of making me feel better, it was making me feel worse.  At the time, when you're drunk, you don't feel or believe that, but the day after, oh yeah - left feeling 100 times worse than the day before.


The best thing I ever did was see a counsellor - like Karen said, this might not be for you and, like Chelle, I was diagnosed with PTSD.  Please make that call to see you Doctor and talk through the options.  You've taken the biggest step towards help by being open and honest on here with us.  I know it's different as we're all strangers and you're not face to face, but it still took courage to share.  Be brave again, and speak to someone.


We'll all be here for you every step of the way with all the advice and experience we can provide.


Take care of you - you must be your number one priority xxxx

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Hi Diane, 


One of the things I noticed in going back into a pub (bar) was that alcohol affected me at a far earlier point than it did before. I became disorientated earlier and to be honest it worried me.  Even now, 9.5 years later some beer is ok in moderation, but spirits are a no no!


The second thing I'd like to say is that alcohol is a depressant and makes you feel worse in the long run.  Being drunk exaggerates the stress you feel in your own mind, so I would stay away from it.  Your imagination runs away with itself if you have nobody to talk to and you are drinking.  Far better to stay sober and talk things through with a close friend or relative, or therapist if you have one.


I have never yet found the solution to a problem in the bottom of a glass.


In my humble opinion, the best way to get some answers is to start to try and think how you are going to tackle this problem and take it on.  Be proactive, actively get help, don't wait for the answers to come to you. You have to go out and find them.  They are there, you just have to embark on the treasure hunt, (the treasure being the solutions you seek) and make your life better through positive action, not passive surrender.


If you must drink at all, do it in company and never on your own and do it in moderation.


Best wishes,



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Hi Diane, firstly well done, asking for help is the first and possibly the hardest step.  And as others have said, follow that first step with a conversation with your GP.  


I had my NASAH in May 2019.  The first 4 weeks I was just focused on surviving. The following 3 months I was  gradually working on getting my basic strength and confidence back, short walks etc.  Everything seemed foreign and as if I was doing everything for the first time.  Walking into a supermarket to help my wife with the shopping was difficult and took courage. I relied a lot on my wife's company for confidence.


I felt a bit like a small child being led around unfamiliar and scary places.  With more exposure and practice my confidence slowly increased. My wife had taken leave from her work for the first couple of months after my NASAH to help me in my recovery.  When she returned to work I noticed myself feeling isolated and becoming depressed.  I was  and am still unable to return to work.  I was missing the social interaction that my work had provided.


I was starting to have the odd drink or two, but it was not excessive. I have found that it is difficult to give up a negative or addictive behaviour without finding something beneficial to replace it.  I decided I needed to to something about it. As others have mentioned, different things work for different people.


Firstly I reconnected with a psychologist that I had seen a few times before my NASAH.  I was fortunate to already be familiar with him and knew that I could talk comfortably with him. It often takes time to find the right person for you that you feel comfortable with.


After several visits I found myself repeating talking about events following my NASAH.  I was still coming to terms with what had happened, still processing.  I asked in tears, How many times will I need to talk about this?  He answered, as many times as it takes, there is no timeline.  


Second, I realised I needed social interaction. I found a local bicycle riding group.  There are several bike groups in the small town in which I live.  The bike groups range from the elite younger riders who do high speed long rides to a group of older riders who do a gentle ride around town.


 I joined a group of retired people, men and women in their 60's, 70's and 80's.  I am 58 and the youngest in the group. It is a very welcoming social group, they are mostly very fit but always stop and wait at regular intervals for the slower ones to catch up. We ride three times a week and go to a cafe after the ride. I have found joining this group to be very motivational and inspirational.


Before joining the group I found it very difficult to get out of bed and go for a ride by myself. Now, knowing that there are some new friends waiting for me to join them motivates me to get going.  The benefits to me have been enormous, I have found new friends, I am inspired and encouraged by these older people.


I have become physically fitter and stronger and subsequently mentally stronger.  And an activity which I had become bored with was now very interesting because I had a new group of people to interact with and who shared new and varied stories.


Third, I joined "Park Run" for the same reasons.  Park Run is an event which is held in cities and towns all around the world.  It is a 5km run or walk, held on a Saturday morning.  It is a no pressure social event that gets you out and walking or running and meeting new people.  You would probably be able to find a Park Run event near you.


Getting started on exercising can be very hard and may not be something that you feel you want to do.  What I always say to myself is, I may not enjoy the ride or the run, it may be physically difficult, I may just not want to do it, but the benefits after the event are worth it.  I feel good about myself that I actually achieved it, I notice myself getting physically stronger, and I definitely notice my depression fading away.


Other practical things that I have done in the past to avoid self medicating and to stop ruminating and to still my wandering brain;  I taught myself to juggle.  I found juggling a bit like meditation.  Juggling caused me to be very focused on one objective, or three in my case, three juggling balls.  


This emptied my mind of wandering negative thoughts and helped me get to sleep.  Walking in nature or just down the street has been extremely beneficial. Other suggestions when you are home,  Jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, reading, writing your own memoir.


For me, it was a matter of realising I did not like the way things were for me and things could go from bleak to bleaker and that I needed to instigate the change, to be brave and do something different.  I did some online research to see what was available.  I was very nervous to meet the bike group for the first time. I have been riding with them 2 - 3 mornings per week now for 3 months.  I miss it on the occasions that I can not make it and will usually do a ride by myself to make up for it.


So, my suggestion would be, follow up with your GP and someone to talk to.  Find an activity that may interest you.  If you are not used to physical exercise talk to your GP before commencing any physical exercise activities.  In my experience, exercise is a good replacement for behaviours that are not good for me.  Exercise makes me feel better physically and mentally.


Doing this with a group of people who's main focus is social interaction while supporting and encouraging others and subsequently getting exercise has been very beneficial.   


I hope I haven't sounded like I have lectured or talked "at" you.  Also, I do not make assumptions of your capabilities, abilities or disabilities, but most activities can be modified to allow everyone's participation.  I just wanted to share what worked for me and maybe some of my thoughts will give you ideas to follow. However, in the end it is up to you.  You have done the hard part in acknowledging that you have been drinking too much.  It is the beginning of a new journey.


All the best.






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  • 1 month later...

Hi Everyone:


Well, I just want to thank all of you for being so kind and supportive.  I was off the site for a while, and checked back in to see all of your lovely messages. I have decided to embrace sobriety and have 30 days now of being alcohol free.    I still get headaches, but they are not as bad as when I was still having wine. 


Thanks again, it means a lot to me!

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I Loved my pinot grigio after a pooey day at work,  I'd get the dinner ready and my husband had drunk nearly a bottle before  I had even had a chance to get a look in.


Then I had my SAH and they said not to drink, I remember nothing all I remember saying is " I don't get a look in with him".  


Loved my Vino collapso  I awoke up later not remembering a thing,  had shunt put in which cleared water/fluid off brain and my husband had given up and I had also as was told it doesn't do me any good.   Stopped drinking and smoking as couldn't walk very far as sat in garden when smoked.


 Good luck on giving it up I done it drastic way,  ate chocs instead made me happy but fat  xxx Good luck xxx



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I stil drink.  I learned that alcohol affects me more quickly than before. 


I also have a weird experience.  I act fine (according to others) and don't get very tipsy.  But the next day, I sometimes don't remember much.  Like being blackout drunk, but without the blackout. 


The NASAH affected my memory in general, but when combined with alcohol, it is weird.  I took an Uber home once and don't remember it.  And I was not in anyway drunk.  Hadn't had that much.  It just didn't stick.

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