The peculiar traits of humanity….

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    Me and my boy

    Today is a blue sky day, the blossom  and daffodils are blooming incandescent with the sunshine.  Our  days are staying lighter for longer, spring is finally here and we have survived the dark colourless days of winter.

I,  just like the  beautiful optimistic buds of spring feel  as  if I am finally waking up from my  dark winter stupor and cognitive hibernation and I am  at last finally feeling and seeing life as it really is, in glorious & wonderful tecni colour.

My life has been temporarily muted and diminished  by the very tablets that were supposed to help keep me up right and control my epilepsy. This is a unfortunate side effect of the medication I was on and one which unfortunately I wasn’t aware of until I slid into the black fug of  severe anxiety which literally hifhjacked my optimism and resilience  and replaced it with fear and loathing ( not in Las Vegas!) in Suburbia!

It  felt as if my personality was being eroded and that I was desperately trying to hold onto the remnants of that cheerful,smiley happy, unemcumbered person that I  had been before the epilespy came along.

It is a peculiar trait of humanity that we can manage to believe even the most ridiculous thoughts and untruths. The brain is both awesome in its functionality to create so many thoughts that the essence of neuroplasticity  is what we practice is actually what we cultivate. Therefore trying to cultivate self compassion isn’t always straight forward when you are unwell, it seems though our  thoughts are transitory we can get stuck in berating emotions over and over again.

My internal voice of discontent out rightly and repeatedly  told me that I did not deserve my family, friends, job and the lovely life that I have because now I have my epilepsy I am a totally unreliable, weak, dysfunctional “try hard” who wasn’t managing to keep all those plates juggling. ( This isn’t true!) ( wow, side note: that is progress! )

My rational  internal voice quietly squeaked this was not true,  that I am worthy,  and a good, kind person and I  do deserve to be happy but against the roaring velocity of the negative narrative of discontentment it just couldn’t compete, despite it trying, and  that , with the after effects of numerous seizures ( side order of physical and mental exhaustion) I just couldn’t speak kindly to myself at all.  I just couldn’t be compassionate to myself.

Isn’t it true that all your shortcomings and insecurities like to stand around your bed side in the dead of night and clutter your brain up with such terrible notions?compunded by  much time on my  hands while resting / recovering from illness, this can again lead to overthinking and inner criticism.

Suddenly and without Much warning the keppra didn’t work as effectively as it had done before  and I began to have several  seizures without a warning ( ouch!)  ( my warning is usually visual disturbances,agitation, Loss of speech then I just lose conciousness and start to have a seizure)  this unfortunately made me  feel like a walking,  talking massive liability!

I lost confidence in my ability to do anything well,  ( pause that life!) and this included all my passions ( photography, writing, book club, work) and worse still I questioned my ability to parent. Now, my son is my universe. In this crazy life I have always, without doubt, wanted to be a mother.   Every atom of my being loves being a Mum! This was probably my only one true aspiration, more so than a wife or high flying career woman, but my life seemed to follow the general particular narrative of girl meets boy, adventure, travel, wedding and much wished for and cherished child ( after some heart ache inbetween).  Sounds good until the epilepsy  drugs  ( anti seizure meds)  tried to erode it all away in a scarily short space of time. It tried  but failed, but a work in progress is what I am, and I’m mostly still standing, and working it out as I go.

I questioned over and over  what exactly the point of me was. And that is exactly the moment that I realised I needed some  help.

I’m not talking some great philosophical debate or some itsy bitsy minor  existential crisis about what ” foot print” I leave on society, or legacy I leave my kids ( so far it’s a great recipe for toad in the hole and be nice to everyone and everything ( even that hairy spider you feel scared of!) oh no,  I wasn’t pondering my place in the universe and looking to question who I was. I was questioning why I deserved to be here on this beautiful planet in the first place when I was quite literally being a burden to everyone I loved. What is the point? ( best time to be consumed with that is night time when all you want to do is sleep but you can’t)  ( Damn, damn you anxiety, for daring to scrambled my thoughts and mash up my self worth.  Huge Tip: anxiety is a lying, ugly, mean monster.)

That is some emotional tirade of mental abuse and it beats you up, over and over again, if you let it. There are not enough positive vibe memes that are going to drag you out of that kind of awful pit of morose thinking, you have to really listen out for your true inner voice that says ” You are LOVED!” …. “forwards, forwards, forward, with courage !”

Questioning your own existence while quietly wishing that perhaps the blank abyss of darkness is where you belong is probably the closest you can be to standing on a ledge and deciding to step back or step off…….

When step off feels like the best choice then you know it is time to seek urgent help. Yet, I didn’t, for several months.  I wanted to shake myself out of it but I couldn’t as the tablets also managed to make rational thinking really quite difficult…. everyday. Everything was difficult.

I struggled to think straight and felt sedated and incoherent  for several hideous, horrible dark winter months. ( I don’t remember Christmas)

I pretended that I felt ok and that I was dealing with everything until one evening I heard myself whisper something so awful to myself that I knew I had to blurt it out to my husband and ask for help.  I scared myself into submission. So I spoke up, and now I’ve written this.( no hiding from here… I wear my heart on my sleeve. )

My husband gave me the biggest hug and told me that he believed everything would be ok and a week later  as we sat at the neurologist appointment &  we held hands and told the doctor how the tablets had made me feel. ” High level Anxiety and intrusive thoughts”( INTRUSIVE, hell yeah)  and we were told this was  a classic side effect of keppra and that I could change my meds. As simple as that! That’s all it took changing  my meds! ( and extra rest. )

It has  now been a month on my new meds and I feel ALIVE/ AWAKE  and in control of my emotions and thoughts.  ( mostly!)

I can think straight and it has been commented on that I seem less confused and back to my old self. ( slowly, slowly …)

A chronic  fluctuating illness is bound to cause anxiety and worry but please don’t let it fester like I did. I buried my emotions and ignored  them which in turn made it all the more worse. Why? I know why, ( it sucks)    I did this because I thought people would be bored of me always banging on about how epilesy had changed my life or that I wanted attention  and I truly felt that people were in much worse situations  (Again more notes to self: – comparison is a bitch, shut her down!) that I struggled on.

I also ignorantly didn’t stop to consider that this could be a real manufactured by product of the tablets that control my epilepsy.

Now I always read  the leaflets with the meds. I now have peace of mind  that should those over whelming feelings rise again then I can switch pharmaceuticals, which is priceless and a gift because it means I am ( somewhat) back in control.

My anxiety is slowly ebbing away  and I’m more  and more my happy optimistic self but I am now more open to saying if I feel like I am struggling rather than pretending everything is ok. If you are not ok say it! Say it over and over because those who love and care about you will listen to you and strive to help you, but first you must believe that you deserve that help because you do. Every damn  time. Always.

💙 Spring is here, feel renewed. Your super power is YOU.