The biggest challenges I have faced as a young stroke survivor

Jenny McAllister is a young stroke survivor and the creator of StyleAbility, a business that is dedicated to making mainstream fashion inclusive and accessible. Jenny had a stroke at the age of 21.

In this video Jenny McAllister talks about the challenges she has faced as a young stroke survivor. One of Jenny’s biggest challenges has been people’s lack of understanding and the feeling of invisibility. She says “I often feel invisible, being out and about, and people talking to the person I’m with rather than talking to me”.

Some of the topics discussed will get you thinking about your own experiences. If you feel any distress, talk with someone you trust—perhaps a family member, friend, or your doctor. If you need support, information or advice StrokeLine’s health professionals are available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, AEST. Call StrokeLine on 1800 787 653 or email strokeline@strokefoundation.org.au. Lifeline is available 24 hours a day on 13 11 44.

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Video transcript

Jenny: One of the biggest challenges that I have faced as a young stroke survivor, was other people’s assumptions or opinions about me and about what had happened. I felt like a lot of people made these assumptions that because it happened so young that I would no longer have a life to live, and I wouldn’t have friends, and I wouldn’t go out, I wouldn’t be able to have a job. No social life. It was almost as if people were pitying me, and feel sorry for me. As if this was the end, the end of my life, and that it was over, that was it. And that was really difficult. So trying to, almost feel like I had to justify and prove that actually life does go on. And life can be good. And that I’ve got this amazing life and all this great stuff to look forward to.

And then also, just, often feeling invisible, so if I was, and it happens now, still a lot. But being out and about and people talking to the person I’m with rather than talking to me. That’s really difficult, yeah. And there’s people who really mean well but feel that they need to give me advice, when they don’t know me, or don’t know my disability. I’ve had people come up to me on the street and cuddle me and tell me that you know, couple more months and I will be alright. Or that it wasn’t my fault and that these things happen. Or that I must have done something really bad in a past life. You know, I’ve had all sorts of things. So, I feel like that’s, people’s lack of understanding has probably been one of the biggest challenges, yeah.