Living with epilepsy can be a very difficult circumstance. I can tell you that, while it can certainly be a challenge, it is not at all impossible. I want these weblogs to be positive and open for those dealing with any number of mental health illnesses to speak and learn from one another. As I continue to produce blogs, I want to cover a variety of topics regarding epilepsy. With that being said, for this month’s topic, I wanted to focus on how epilepsy, and by extension epileptic seizures, can affect the way we interact with others and the world.
For any of you who are familiar with epilepsy, you are certainly aware that epilepsy affects your day-to-day life. But specifically, how does it affect your life? What does it do to you? For many, that answer is different. For today, I wanted to specifically focus on how epileptic seizures can drastically affect the way we act and even influence the way we behave. Before I get into that, I should explain the way our brains work.
The brain is an incredibly important organ. It is the epicenter of all that we do, and it is directly responsible for how we act, communicate and think. Epileptic seizures directly affect the brain, and therefore, can affect the way we behave. The brain is split up into three main sectors: prosencephalon, mesencephalon and rhombencephalon, each of which controls various different functions. The brain carries out a bevy of tasks, but the two that I’m focused on are our memories and our executive function. These two functions are controlled by different lobes in the brain: temporal and frontal. The temporal lobe controls memory while the frontal lobe controls executive function, or the things that we do and our ability to control ourselves.
During a seizure in the frontal lobe, your ability to restrain yourself from acting out or behaving a certain way can be drastically impaired. Seizures can make the frontal lobe weaker, allowing you to do or say whatever comes to mind. For example, if you have a coworker who is overweight, you would normally not make rude jokes about their weight; you might censor your thoughts and be mindful of how you treat this co worker in the environment you are both sharing. However, if you suffer a seizure that affects your frontal lobe, you may not realize what you are doing, and you may make an insensitive remark about that coworker’s size directly to his or her face without any sense of consequence that could occur. This form of disconnect or desensitization occurs during frontal lobe seizures.
Similarly, seizures can affect the temporal lobe, which houses the hippocampus, which controls memory. If you suffer a seizure that affects both your frontal and temporal lobe, you may do or say certain things that are typically considered inappropriate without even realizing it, and afterwards, have no recollection of the incident.
People who suffer from epileptic seizures are at risk of being hindered not only on a physical, mental and emotional level, but on a societal one as well. It is important to keep in mind that those with epilepsy may say and do things that are perceived to be cold and mean-spirited when they are simply reacting to intense and abnormal neurological activity of the brain. Hopefully by reading this, you can understand the difficulties that those who suffer from epilepsy deal with on a daily basis. I hope this spurs further discussion through my socials and through my twitter feeds. @frankrharrison, @frankhealthcare and use #epilepsy, #mentalhealth