"I got better for my little girl" - Blackpool stroke survivor opens up about battle with depression

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A Blackpool dad has spoken out after a medical crisis left him with struggling with mental health problems.

Father-of-one Paul Baker, 33, had a stroke in November last year, which left him with depression,and as a result his relationship broke down.

Paul Baker, 33, from Blackpool, who is recovering after a stroke left him with mental health problems

Paul Baker, 33, from Blackpool, who is recovering after a stroke left him with mental health problems

Paul’s stroke took away the movement in his left side and he needed to use a wheelchair after his stroke.

Now with physiotherapy twice a week and sheer determination, he only uses one stick for walking.

After his stroke, Paul, a chef, battled with depression. He said: “I felt so down because I couldn’t do things with my three-year-old daughter, Lily, any more.

“She doesn’t understand what I’ve been through, but she helps me so much and nurses me better.

“It was hard on the relationship between myself and my ex-partner, Lily’s mum.

“I couldn’t work and she struggled to keep up with hours at her work place.

“She lost her job and the impact on our finances was very stressful.

“I couldn’t cook, clean or change Lily’s nappies and my partner had to do everything. She was left to pick up all the pieces.

“It all got too much.

“From there my relationship broke down and I moved into Holly House hostel.

“Despite my situation, it’s an amazing place and I’m getting well looked after.”

Paul is speaking out after new findings by the Stroke Association revealed almost a million people who have survived a stroke have developed at least one mental health problem.

There are more than 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK, and more than three-quarters (78 per cent) face a battle with depression, anxiety, a lack of confidence, mood swings or even suicidal thoughts.

The Lived Experience of Stroke report is the Stroke Association’s largest ever survey of people affected by stroke, with over 11,000 people responding.

Paul added: “I’d also been prescribed paracetamol and my partner was worried that I was going to overdose.

“After my stroke, I did think ‘Why did I even bother surviving this, what life have I got?’

“I didn’t think I was going to improve and would be bed bound.

“But as I progressed with my physiotherapy I realised I could get stronger.

“Now I’m overcoming my depression and feel much better.

“I think people need to find that reason to fight for.

“Mine is my little girl.

“I have a support worker at the hostel, so there is always someone I can talk to.

“The staff are always asking how I am.

“I have overhauled my diet and I’m much healthier, and I don’t drink alcohol.

“I feel like I have a fresh start in life.

“I’m just grateful to wake up each morning and take each day as it comes.

“I’m in a lot better place now than I was six months ago.

“I’m surrounded by a lot of good people and they keep me going.

“The Stroke Association has supported me all the way through my recovery and even helped me to be mobile with a grant to get my wheelchair.

“They’ve been amazing.

“I’d tell other stroke survivors to not see this as the end, but to see it as a new beginning.

“When it first happens you feel like you’ve lost so much and don’t thinking about the positives, but you just have to have patience.”

Need help?

Contact the Stroke Association helpline on 0303 303 3100. If you’re struggling to cope, you can contact the Samaritans free any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch, where you can talk to a trained volunteer face to face.