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When I Had My First Seizure at 17

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I’ve struggled with seizures since I was 17 and they have affected me physically, emotionally and mentally. Not everyone understands what it’s like to have seizures and how it can really impact somebody’s life. 

Seizures are signs of a brain problem. They happen due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain, that happens suddenly. When people think of seizures, they frequently think of convulsions while someone’s body shakes rapidly and uncontrollably. There are many types of seizures and some have mild symptoms. Seizures fall into two main groups. Focal seizures, also called partial seizures, happen in just one part of the brain. Generalized seizures are a result of abnormal activity on both sides of the brain. Seizures can have many causes, including depression, anxiety, high fevers, head injuries and certain health conditions. People who have repetitive seizures due to a brain disorder often have epilepsy.

Other relevant stories:
Is Epilepsy Contagious
When Was Epilepsy Discovered
Is Epilepsy Genetic

On a humid, sticky day in June 2018, I was horseback riding with my mom and horses up the street. We found a trail through the woods and we had a fun time exploring; even though we got lost. With the humidity and so many bugs, we headed back down the street to home. Already about to head down the driveway, it was a moment I never knew would change my life. All of the sudden, while still on the horse, I dropped cold and was unconscious. I couldn’t respond, couldn’t feel my hands and felt like my head was spinning constantly. The whole feeling was like, “Am I dying?” I woke up and saw the ambulance with the EMTs. I felt like I got punched in the face multiple times and my body hurt badly. I couldn’t remember what happened, some names or even talk clearly. 

When I started having back-to-back seizures, my life was changing right in front of me. Every day that went by it felt like my brain would shut off like a light switch. It happened so suddenly that my whole body felt numb, which almost made it impossible to stand or move. My seizures were 30 minutes of rigid full body shaking and fear. Many times I thought my head was going to explode. My life had no light in it and all I could see was darkness. Darkness with everywhere and I was too weak to try to open up with light. I left my summer job, no college, everyone was worried, treated poorly and no horseback riding. I was alone in the darkness, afraid to leave home because thoughts of having seizures sank through my veins. 

I remember I would hide in my room by myself and cry my eyes out; praying that my seizures would just go away. There were some days where there would be some specks of light, but then it all went away. I would be treated unfairly because to others, I was labeled different. People would say, “You can’t do this because you have seizures,” or, “Your seizures are all your fault.” It all brought me down and I wanted nothing to do with the world outside of the house.

I started to hate myself all alone crying in a dark room. I was just alone all the time. It got so bad in the deep darkness, I didn’t see the light. Horrific thoughts and feeling haunted me that happened for days. I wanted nothing to do with life because my seizures were departing life. I almost ended my life as one way to get out of the emotions I couldn’t live with anymore.

Having seizures is still the most terrifying and upsetting part of me. A part of me I wish I never had and that sticks with me. Now I am 21 years old, able to keep myself out of the darkness by taking control over my seizures. I used to drop intensely and be seizing for 20 minutes or longer, but now I can feel the warning signs. My thumbs tucking into my palms, a headache, blurred vision and feeling lethargic are all signs of a seizure. In my blurred vision, I can see the light switch in my brain and it takes all of my body’s strength to fight against the light turning off. It is psychically draining to say, “I will not have a seizure.” But I am still here and powerful through the darkness.

Originally published: November 13, 2020
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