A Potters Bar woman has spoken out about the toll a stroke took on her life as part of Acquired Brain Injury Week - admitting she felt ‘lonely and depressed’ before support from Headway Hertfordshire.

Sarah, 58, had a stroke in March 2018 after suffering with a headache for a number of days and waking up one morning with slurred speech and a drop on one side of her face.

She was taken Queens Square, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, and after it was found she had a haemorrhagic stroke, she underwent surgery.

After an intense rehabilitation period, Sarah returned to her home in Borehamwood, but her long stay in hospital meant her foster children were placed in alternative care and she was evicted from her home.

She had several moves to temporary accommodation before finally being placed in a bungalow in Potters Bar, but she struggled being isolated in a new town during lockdown, with her mobile phone providing her only contact with others.

“I felt so depressed sitting at home doing nothing,” she said.

“Once my cleaning was done, I had nothing to do, apart from eat and go back to bed. I gained weight as I had no exercise, and I felt lonely and depressed.”

Sarah luckily received support from Headway Hertfordshire, who used funds to loan her a laptop and secure her a place on a computer skills course.

“I can now search the web, send and receive emails, use Zoom and complete forms,” Sarah said.

“I also use the laptop to try online hobby courses and attend Headway Hertfordshire Zoom calls as well as enjoying online calls with friends and family.

“More recently, I have been using the laptop to search for voluntary work and have now made an application for a voluntary role in my local high street shop.”

Sarah admitted that being able to communicate with others has also improved her mental health, adding: “I feel connected again and not so isolated. The loneliness has lifted.”

To find out more about Headway Hertfordshire, visit www.headway-herts.org.uk.

To find out more about Acquired Brain Injury Week, visit www.headway.org.uk/news-and-campaigns/news/2021/abi-week-2021-a-life-of-lockdown.