So. Some stress is good for us. Our adrenaline gets going, gets us buzzing, excited and can “encourage” us humans to go for it. But as so many of us know, there’s a very fine line between excitement and anxiety.*
Unfortunately, when you mix a certain level of stress/anxiety with epilepsy, a seizure can be induced. This used to really upset me. Here are some examples of what I’ve gone through in the past:
· You’re trying to get on with your life as “normally” as possible (whatever normal is!) but you’re feeling anxious due to, say, a work deadline. Then, you suddenly realise that you are anxious and then without a way to try and control your anxiety, you become more anxious because you know that you may have a seizure as a result of your anxiety!
· You are totally excited and looking forward to meeting up and going out with friends/a date but then as a result of that excitement, you have a seizure (I’ve got another story about that….)!
Imagine the above happening again and again, that you then come to the conclusion that you shouldn’t allow yourself to have fun, go out, challenge yourself or experience deep emotions because they may induce a seizure. It can become depressing and isolating. It has happened to me and lots of people with epilepsy that I know. Epilepsy seems to be holding you back and no one else understands.
I used to be in denial; working in corporate finance, I was under a lot of pressure, was stressed and was going out for “beverages” with work too often. Of course, this didn’t do me any favours; especially as my epilepsy was getting progressively worse as well.
Now, particularly since my surgery in 2013, I have come to terms with the above and instead I manage MY life. I manage MY time, sleep and work on what I enjoy more. I’m in charge. I walk a lot. I get the sleep that I need. I do mindfulness (love this video). I play my wonderful piano to relax. I’ve reduced my caffeine intake. I don’t drink. I PLAN my time. I chat with friends. I say no to pointless meetings. I run a social media company that I love. I spread the word about epilepsy globally. But, I still sometimes get too busy and stressed so I take a step back, re-evaluate and take some time out. I know what my brain and body need and I have to keep rebalancing everything.
If you’ve only recently been diagnosed with epilepsy, you need to adjust your life. It’s totally unfair, but either you do that and take as much control as you can, or you allow your epilepsy to be a complete bitch and control you entirely.
Sometimes people’s seizures will change/get worse and all of the above has to be reconsidered and reprioritised. But, no matter what anyone may try to tell us, epilepsy does not define us. It’s a significant part of our lives (da*n it) but you are not an epileptic. You have epilepsy and deal with it in the best way possible for you.
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*I’m not claiming to be an expert when it comes to the very serious mental health condition anxiety. For professional advice, speak to your doctor/psychologist/neurologist/psychiatrist