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Kirsty-Ann’s Story

27th Apr 2021

In 2019, Kirsty-Ann Johnstone was part of a team of 5 amazing people who raised over £2000 for BulliesOut when they walked 34 miles in 12 hours! Since then we have kept in touch with all of the team who have continued to support BulliesOut as much as they can.

Six months ago, Kirsty became very ill and here is her story ….

Sometimes things happen to us and at the time, we cannot understand why. The questions of ‘why me?’ ‘Why now?’ enters our minds.

Here is my story -:
I have always been an on the go kind of person. If something negative happened, I’d brush myself down and have this ‘just get on with it’ attitude. This all changed in October 2020.
I had been under an extraordinary amount of stress leading up to this point which I didn’t really recognise at the time. It presented itself with severe headaches and I thought I just needed a review with the optician but I was wrong.

I woke up in the morning feeling ok, then a few hours later I found myself in the back of an ambulance with symptoms of a stroke. I’ve never felt so scared. I was only 40. Following numerous tests, I was diagnosed with functional neurological disorder (FND). Never heard of it? Neither had I.

This condition mimics symptoms of stroke, Parkinsons or MS. It varies from person to person in severity. My speech was slurred initially which progressed to stuttering. I had left sided weakness, memory issues, unable to process information – especially if large amounts of information was given at once as I couldn’t retain the things I was reading. I was relieved, thinking it’s nothing serious. However upon discharge it hit me like a brick just how much this was going to impact my life as each day was a struggle.

Where am I now?

I have worked so hard in regaining my speech through breathing therapies and singing. Although I still have a stutter, it has improved greatly. I have the occasional fall through dizziness, I get numbness in my limbs and have hand tremors making daily tasks difficult such as washing, cooking. I have overwhelming tiredness most days but I try to focus on things I can manage and break down tasks into smaller pieces. If something takes me longer, that’s ok. I use relaxing distraction techniques when I feel my mind is filling with negative thoughts such as writing poetry, drawing, singing and photography. It gives me a focus on things which I find uplifting and positive. I am recovering. Although slower than I anticipated, I am determined that this condition will not define who I am.

Why me? Why now? I believe it was a sign. I needed to slow down and pay attention to my mind and body and deal with underlying causes which I hadn’t necessarily addressed before.
I’m very fortunate to have a supportive family and a few close friends who have been with me through it all and having those people to confide in when I’m feeling low makes me feel I’m not alone. I can get through this, one day at a time.

Although this is not a bullying issue, there is an underlying message. Don’t ignore signs of stress. Confide in someone. Your mental well-being is just as important as your physical well-being. Be kind to yourself. There is no shame in asking for help. You are not alone. With the correct support, you can overcome hurdles and come out the other side stronger than you ever imagined.


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