By: Layne Gudenkauf
In the fifth grade I had my first seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy. Luckily for me, the first medication I tried worked like a charm and the only seizure I have had since, was on a trial off of medication. Although it is completely under control, it still affects my life in many different ways and has probably changed some of the decisions that I have made in the past as well as currently.
In hindsight… I have to say, I am grateful for my epilepsy. I know right away that some of you are probably thinking, “Uhm… is this girl crazy??” but here is the thing… my epilepsy kept me out of a lot of bad situations. It made me think things through a little bit more than I think I would have had I not had epilepsy. Yes, I was more cautious about my decisions, but really… I don’t regret those decisions. I don’t wish I could have done most of those things. Yes, there are several things that bug me about the decisions, but for the most part, I am pretty happy with the outcome of all of them.
One thing it did cause though was some major anxiety. Anxiety runs in my family anyways, and epilepsy can also cause it, because of your anxiety over your epilepsy. When I was younger, having a seizure was my absolute biggest fear, and a lot of the times even now it is. I was constantly worried about having a seizure. That anxiety leaked into other aspects of my life and pretty much overtook my life. I was cancelling plans because of a person who was maybe, just maybe, going to be there. Or there MIGHT be strobe lights. I stopped going to a church because of strobe lights during the service (In my defense, there were other reasons, but the strobe lights were a major reason for the decision).
I would go home from football games and worry that I embarrassed myself while I was cheering, or the crowd noticed that my feet were in the wrong position. In reality… the crowd didn’t give a shiz. They probably didn’t even notice. But my epilepsy anxiety had leaked over and I constantly worried.
It was not until years later that I started to be able to admit that I had epilepsy. Why would someone want to deal with my epilepsy when they could easily choose not to? Then I just kind of realized, “Eh. If they don’t want to deal with it, they don’t have to,” they don’t have to be a part of my life. So, I started to speak up a little more about it. I started to look into epilepsy more. I donated to The Epilepsy Foundation and found a lot of great resources on their site. I was able to even find a thread on epilepsy and anxiety and epilepsy and mental health.
As time went on, speaking about my anxiety and my epilepsy became more important to me. The Epilepsy Foundation became more important to me. Learning more became more important to me. Although sometimes my research produced a decent amount of anxiety, in the long run it really helped me.
That is why, the month of January, and the last few days of December are devoted to The Epilepsy Foundation. Jojo and I will be sending a percentage of our profits and the donations made to The Lionheart Society to The Epilepsy Foundation to help them expand and help more and more people. So, this month, if this is a cause you care about, please consider donating to The Epilepsy Foundation or The Lionheart Society. Please consider purchasing any merchandise, as a percentage will go to support The Epilepsy Foundation and all of their efforts.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!