Some say depression goes hand in hand with epilepsy. Frustratingly, I have always found that it is impossible to differentiate between the effects of epilepsy, the effects of the anti-epileptic drugs or whether under those two black clouds it is simply a characteristic of me.
There is plenty of research and literature backing up the possible causes for depression but as always, each and every one of us is different; therefore, we’ll never quite know the truth. Here’s a basic out-line which Epilepsy Action have put together.
Trying Keppra was the one and only time that I knew those feelings didn’t belong to me. The side effects of this particular AED were feelings of suicide. I slowly fell into a black hole. I remember my mum coming into my room as I was slumped on the floor against my bed. She told me enough was enough and I needed to come off the drug. I had been taken over by a force stronger than me so I listened and did what she said in my haze.
During the time of having regular seizures, at that young age I wasn’t able to understand how I could deal with it in a positive manner. Being able to use your mind as a tool to improve my quality of life at the age of ten or eleven is near impossible as you don’t have that capacity. That comes with wisdom, experience and learning from the mistakes you make. If only you could go back knowing what you know now!
I decided this week to reflect on my life and list three situations which include fear, the difference between me and others and the interference epilepsy has had.
- Every day I’d clock watch when I got home from school with an increasing fear as it got closer to bedtime. Every night I’d lie down wishing that I could stay in my own bed for the entire night rather than having to do the ‘bed swap’ that was necessary. Perhaps one of the greatest difficulties was never getting past the loneliness and isolation I felt. That nobody was able to hop into my body and feel it getting twisted and beaten then left to dry like a wet dishrag like I did.
- Due to various nutritional plans I was on to improve my seizures and allergies, children’s birthday parties were always significant. I’d have a great time with friends and playing party games but when it came to food there were fairy cakes, crisps, sandwiches, sausages, cheese and pineapple on sticks and birthday cake, but I never ate any. I brought my own food which made me unlike the others.
- Memory loss. Working at a law firm although I was admin, it still had its stresses. With a cheque having been submitted by a client, it was not be found. The amount was a couple of thousand pounds and was eventually located. I had taken it and had absolutely no recollection of doing so.
Turning these situations into positives.
- It was the norm. I didn’t like it but I accepted it because that’s how life was. I had an amazingly supportive family who kept life as normal as possible enabling me to do things other kids did, just sometimes with a compromise. To ease the fear I kept the light on and listened to music as a distraction as I went to sleep. I also began visualization which calmed and relaxed me.
- It was actually quite fun having my own lunch. Probably the only item I can remember was sausage rolls. My eyes always lit up with glee because every time without fail all the things I loved were in that lunchbox. It had been made with thought and love. My mum always made a point of, if things had to be done differently then she’d go all out and make them the best of different which I loved and appreciated.
- So that was a mortifying experience for me! It happened but you just have to let these things go. Communication is the key with epilepsy and my employer was fully aware of my condition but had no issues. I had a boss who understood. I would often ask if there was a problem with my work or if I should be doing something different. He always told me during those conversations that I didn’t need to worry because he knew I was doing a great job. Even though he knew about mistakes he would tell me that people without epilepsy make mistakes and some worse than mine which made me feel better!
So it just goes to show, depending on how you handle a situation and your perception of it; sometimes it can alter the outcome.