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Seizures aren’t all the same!

Did you know there are over 40 different type of seizures?

When people hear the word epilepsy, they think of people dropping to the floor and shaking…but that isn’t even the most common type of seizure!!

The most common type of seizure is complex partial (also called focal impaired) seizures; where the person looks conscious, and may move or wander, but in actual fact they have lost consciousness. Think of the phrase “the lights are on but nobody’s home”!

I have simple and complex partial seizures. I find on an almost daily basis that because my seizures don’t involve dropping to the ground, people don’t take it anywhere near as seriously. This pisses me off, because I deal with the following yet I have it ‘easy’?!

  1. Over a dozen seizures daily that last 1-2.5 minutes at a time
  2. Clusters, where I have half a dozen seizures in a 20 minute period
  3. A complete loss of control about where these seizures happen…it can be mid sentence, when I’m eating, surrounded by people, staring at someone etc
  4. Feeling exhausted afterwards
  5. Feeling spacey, slow-brained and confused
  6. After complex partial seizures I act erratic, and may shout swear words, burst into laughter, or gesticulate hugely with my hands. People have called me disgusting, because they assumed I was drunk / on drugs
  7. Before about 70% of my seizures I experience an aura, which lets me know a seizure is incoming. My auras vary from flashing white specks (the most common), to a panic aura. I feel flooded with panic, and often end up hyperventilating and crying, THEN having a seizure
  8. Losing large chunks of memory, hours at a time
  9. Not being able to go out without wearing gigantic ski goggles
  10. Having to avoid bright lights, flashing lights, arcades, the cinema, and bodies of water
  11. Having several migraines a week, because my brain is mush from all the seizures

Epilepsy is an invisible illness. There’s so much suffering going on under the surface that passers by don’t see.

For anyone interested, this is me during a simple partial seizure

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Happy World Bipolar Day

Bipolar is a mood disorder characterised by periods of intense mood episodes.

Generally Bipolar mood swings last several months at a time, and rapid cycling Bipolar is characterised as someone who has 4 or more mood swings in one year. The idea that people with bipolar are constantly up and down, with moods changing many times a day, is generally untrue and more associated with other conditions, eg Borderline Personality Disorder.

The mood episodes caused by bipolar disorder are not ‘just’ feeling happy and sad, although that is a common mistake.

People with bipolar 2 have episodes of major depression and hypomania. People with Bipolar 1 have episodes of major depression, hypomania and mania.

Some people only experience mood episodes when they have experienced a ‘trigger’, whereas other people can recognise triggers that cause episodes, but are also hit out the blue. Common triggers for mood episodes are:

  • Late nights (eg. going out to a party)
  • Lack of sleep
  • Bright lights (eg shopping centres) or busy city centres
  • Chaotic life events, from losing a loved one to Christmas
  • Physical illness

What do these feel like, if they aren’t just being happy / sad?

Major Depression

This is far, far more than feeling sad. It’s having no energy to do anything, and spending days in bed because you can’t force yourself to get up, eat or shower. It’s feeling entirely hopeless, thinking there is nothing to live for, and everybody would be better off if you were dead.

It’s crying for hours every day, or feeling too empty and disconnected to cry, and so you just lie and stare up at the ceiling, wondering if you’re already dead. 

It’s planning how you would kill yourself, to the very last detail. It’s trying to kill yourself.

Hypomania

Hypomania is feeling a rush of energy, confidence, creativity and power. It’s thinking you are the best at everything, and that everything you think or say is amazing. It’s not sleeping for nights on end. It’s getting frustrated when people don’t agree with your outlandish ideas.

Some people experience a feeling of elation with hypomania, whilst others feel incredibly irritated. Hypomania often includes visible changes, such as talking super fast, darting from one subject to another, and being unable to sit still.

Mania

Mania is the same as hypomania, but cranked up. People can usually continue a ‘normal’ routine with hypomania (eg. going shopping, to school, work etc), albeit with difficulty, but mania will smash that routine to pieces.

When I am manic, my sleep is reduced to practically nothing. I will sleep 3-4 hours a night, for weeks on end. My appetite will be non-existent, I can’t concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds at a time, and I’ll think all my ideas are genius. I’ll go on huge spending sprees (or would if my partner didn’t take control of spends!!), and instead of buying things I want / need, I’ll buy things that are most expensive. Before we knew how to deal with manic episodes, I would often leave us virtually penniless. I try get jobs, create my own business, sign up to university. Before I experienced psychosis outside of a mood episode, manic episodes were also when I would hallucinate.

Bipolar disorder is a very individualistic illness, it can vary so much from person to person.

Some people with bipolar experience a mood swing every few years, and are able to lead fairly ‘normal’ lives. Others swing from one episode to another, and are ravaged by the illness.

Treatment generally relies on medication, at least in the UK, although a two-pronged attack of medication and behavioural therapies works best. Medications range from mood stabilisers (including anti-epileptic drugs) to anti-psychotics and anti-depressants. There is controversy on whether or not ADs actually help those with bipolar.

Different medications work for different people, and all carry a range of potential side effects. For some people with treatment resistant bipolar disorder, they will try a vast number of medications with barely any improvement in their illness.

Bipolar disorder is an incredibly hard illness to live with, and today is dedicated to spreading awareness and smashing stigma.

Please excuse if this post is crappily written, I’m living off very minimal sleep for the past week, am full of cold and have had a rough day for seizures.

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No Mother’s Day for you

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know how my relationship with my parents upsets me, and how it always has.

My childhood was awful, and I’m confident a lot of their behaviours pushed me towards a fair chunk of my mental health issues now. Since leaving home at 18 they’ve been just as bad, but thankfully I don’t interact with them much anymore.

My parents entirely lack support for any of my issues.

It’s always me chasing after them to talk with them, making sure I phone on Mother’s Day, remember birthdays etc. They never get in touch with me to ask how I am, and for the longest time when I tried to talk about seizures I was met with silence or whistling as they watched TV. Insulting…

I am hugely pissed off right now because today is Mother’s Day.

I tried to call them first thing in the morning to wish my mum happy mother’s day. With having seizures I never know how my day’s gonna be, or how cognitive I will be in the evening, so I try do important things as soon as the day starts.

Both my calls went unanswered, so I waited until evening to get in touch again as I knew they’d have sunday lunch with my dad’s mum, and then go to my mum’s sister for a family meal in the evening to celebrate mother’s day. It’s been this way for years.

I sent my dad a message at 7pm asking when they’d be home so I could ring, and he said soon.

We exercised our dogs so they’d be tired for a call, and I shut all the curtains and sat under a blanket so my seizures would hopefully not make an appearance (light changes at dusk and the added brightness of lamps and screens are a huge trigger).

We’re waiting and waiting, doing nothing but hanging about so I can wish my mum happy mother’s day.

At 9.15pm I send my dad a message saying we have stuff to do now; my puppy on crate rest needs toileting and sorting, my dogs need letting out, feeding etc. I can’t sit under a fucking blanket any longer and my dogs can’t wait any longer…we waited two damn hours and he didn’t even let us know when he’d be ready -__-

He messaged back saying he was ‘just about to message us’ and ‘would ring in five minutes’.

Too late. Sick of your bullshit. Wish mum a happy mother’s day from me, I guess. Or not. I am beyond caring…

Someone please tell me how to cut ties with my parents, because I always go crawling back to them and I just want all this crap to stop.

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Screwed up kids *trigger warning*

I was one of those kids that was obviously a little messed up.

I had my first suicide attempt at 10 years old; I tried to flush my head down a toilet. A teacher found me, and it was never mentioned again. I began self harming around the same time, and sustained injuries including a dislocated thumb whilst I was still at primary school and broken wrist at 13. I was totally unaware of the idea of self harm, cutting as a way to hurt etc.

I never had any confidence. I always thought I was a disappointment, I was excruciatingly shy, I hated my weight and began restricting my calorie intake whilst still at primary school.

My Grandad fought lung cancer for several years, and for a child I was too involved in his care. I was 11-13 years old, the responsibility was huge!

Around that time, I began restricting what I ate in earnest. I would go all day eating nothing, then binge mid-afternoon before anybody returned to the house. By sixteen I was eating under 200 calories Mon-Thurs, binging on Thursday, restricting below 500 up until Sunday, and then on Monday the cycle would repeat.

Compulsive exercising snuck up on me too; what started as ‘just walking home from school’ (a 45-60 minute walk) progressed to hours of exercise every day. At my worst I was eating less than 500 calories a day and exercising for a minimum of four hours.

I lost close to 3 stone over a period of about 5 months, and I was slender to start with. Despite the obvious transformation and my clear struggle with food, my parents seemed oblivious, with my mum even feeding into my disordered thinking by complimenting me on my weight loss.

At fifteen my parents accidentally saw some self harm on my arm. I was lying on a bed and my pyjama sleeve had ridden up far enough to expose cuts. Instead of support, I was ridiculed and called ’emo’. That was one of the lowest points in my life.

At school teachers knew I was battling demons, but nobody did anything.

Throughout my teenage years I had a dozen suicide attempts, wasted years starving my body, and was filled wityh despair, darkness, lonliness and self hatred. Shying away from family events, plans with friends, and instead holing myself up in my room thinking about how much I despised myself, how I’d be better off dead, and exercising crazily.

I received zero help until I was 19, when my boyfriend said I needed to go to the Dr’s as I had been suicidally depressed for several months. Despite my first suicide attempt being at 10 years old, I wasn’t pushed for help until 19.

When you’ve been dealing with mental illness so long, and since you were so young, you don’t realise a) how sick you are, or b) how ‘wrong’ your emtotions and thoughts are.

I didn’t realise that the depth of my despair wasn’t normal. I didn’t know most my peers didn’t feel this way.

The NHS is a shambles with MH support, and I basically never received adequate care. My bf has done more for my mental health than the NHS ever did. I still have extremely poor body image. I still have periods of battling suicidal thoughts, I have unchecked bipolar, I’m often overwhelmed with anxiety…and now I have psychosis and seizures thrown into the mix too!

But mentally, I am stronger. I feel better in myself.

Who knows if having support when younger would have helped me now -would I have been a fully functioning member of society? Idk. What I can tell you is that I would have loved someone to help me back then.

I would have loved someone to sit me down and say “look, you’re not okay. I know you need help and I’m going to make sure you get the help you deserve.”

I would have loved anything to make me feel less alone and scared.

It’s a crying shame that CAMHS (the children & adolescent MH services) are a sack of shit in the UK. We are doing a huge disservice to young people by brushing them aside when they are asking, crying, begging for help. How many adults are still battling such fierce demons because as children they were ignored?

It’s not enough to say that every childhood has rough bits, that every teenager goes through periods of being ‘sad’…that’s not okay.

  • Kids can have mental illnesses, kids can need support.
  • Teenagers can be lost in the darkness and need someone to guide them back to light.
  • Eating disorders are hell, no matter what your weight. Not everybody battling a severe ED is underweight!!

Everybody deserves to be listened to, and to be supported

That is a *huge* thing lacking in the NHS. They don’t want to listen, they want to wash their hands of you and move you along as quickly as possibly. You won’t feel heard, you won’t feel validated.

Hell, I had a GP appt last week to talk about my seizures. The GP let me say two sentences about them, said they didn’t sound like ‘typical’ seizures as I wasn’t convulsing on the floor (oh I’m sorry, have you never heard of simple / complex partial seizures?!) and told me I’d have to wait 9+ months to be seen by someone with knowledge about seizures…she blamed my MH entirely, and didn’t want anything to do with that.

We shouldn’t be ignoring these ‘broken’ kids…we should be reaching out to them and helping to glue them back together.

When I was a teenager, nobody knew where to turn for help – not me or my friends. They were scared for me at various points, and desperately wanted an adult to help out – when I fainted due to not eating enough, when they saw my arm and it was laced with dozens and dozens of cuts, when I’d taken an over dose…they were frantic to help, but had no idea how. Who could they tell?

Not a teacher, who wasn’t approachable and would just tell my parents without trying to help me at all. Not my parents, who (at the time) reacted to everything with either ridicule or anger…where do you go? Who do you tell? What do you know at 13 / 14 / 15 years old?

There needs to be more understanding. More information. Mental health needs to be taken seriously. There needs to be adequate support and treatment for those struggling.

The world keeps talking about how much money is being poured into the NHS for mental health. Celebrities are all coming out saying they have depression, anxiety, bipolar, and there’s no need to hide it…but there is.

There is SO MUCH stigma in the world. People are disgusted by mental illnesses. People are scared by anything other than anxiety or depression. People think you are faking it. The NHS doesn’t want to help those suffering from mental illness; benefits won’t believe you need assistance if you look physically well.

We need a huge overhaul here.

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Something to remember

I saw this today and found it immensely helpful, so reposting.

You are not ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ if you:

  • Have low to no empathy
  • Have hyper empathy
  • Have a personality disorder
  • Have more than one person in your mind
  • Have scary / violent thoughts
  • Can’t take a shower or brush your teeth very often
  • Don’t have the energy to interact with people everyday
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The struggle is real!

This month has been one of the hardest months of my life…and of course my birthday was in it XD

Seizures have really been taking their toll on my body, and my life. There’s nothing like a cluster of seizures and the resulting tiredness, confusion and lack of memory to completely fuck with you.

But more than that my bipolar had to shove its ugly nose in to remind me that it still existed and, even though these daily seizures are new, it was still the thing I had to be mindful of and fear.

Alongside seizures my bipolar made sure to make my mood plummet.

Overnight I went from being faintly chipper to battling against a tidal wave of depression. Literally overnight. This progressed within a day or two to me being swamped with suicidal thoughts.

I wanted to die, but I was lacking any form of motivation or energy to actually do the act – this (for me) was worse than being actively suicidal, as at least then you’re taking steps and although you feel totally desperate, you can see the end.

I had stretches of hours where I wouldn’t talk to my partner – no, in fact, where I couldn’t talk to my partner. I was completely numb, devoid of all emotion. Entire days where I didn’t get even the fleeting feeling of enjoyment and nothing was satisfying or made me feel warm or bubbly inside. I was dying. Several times a day, walking along, I would suddenly think to myself “Am I already dead? Is this why I feel nothing?”

Weeks passed in a blur of misery, the odd day that was going okay soon crumbling into despair and failure. Everyday I was crying, everyday I was telling my partner I wanted to leave. By the end my psychosis was picking up, and I believed with all my heart that my partner – my amazing partner who’s never anything but supportive – was a psychopath who was dating me simply to toy with the mind of a mentally ill person.

Finally today the despair lifted. Just like that.

People who haven’t experienced a serious mental health condition are never going to be able to understand the depth of despair or intensity of the emotions that sufferers have to endure. This is why Dr’s cheerily tell you something isn’t worth killing yourself over, why parents tell you to get a grip, and why friends family and loved ones seem to assume that your struggles aren’t as bad as you make out.

They are the lucky ones.

I’ve found when I’m surrounded by family or friends that don’t understand, the best things I can do are hug my pups, talk with my partner or, if I’m beyond that, search Pinterest.

Pinterest has some amazing quotes on there regarding mental illness, and I can always find ones that make me feel heard and understood. Here are some of my favourites:

This helped me see things from my partner’s point of view

This has become my all-time favourite quote 🙂

Another one that really resonates

This is so powerful, yet so simple