Epilepsy is a disorder but it is also a term that has been used very frequently. Although many have heard of it and believe they have a solid grasp of its definition, they may be surprised to learn its intricacies. As someone who suffers from epilepsy, I take this very seriously. There is no “cure” for epilepsy yet, however, there are a variety of ways that those with epilepsy can manage the disorder. Before I start writing further about Epilepsy on this site, I will provide a brief overview of it describing what it is and its effects.
With that being said, let’s first define epilepsy. Medically speaking, epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is characterized by sudden and recurring episodes of sensory disturbance and convulsions. One of the most prominent characteristics of epilepsy is sudden seizures. Usually, a person will be diagnosed with epilepsy after having suffered at least two unprovoked seizures.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, epilepsy is the fourth-most common neurological disorder; it can also affect any person at any age. As previously mentioned, one of the most common symptoms of epilepsy is the seizure or convulsion. Due to the inaccurate portrayal of epilepsy in media, many people assume that all seizures are episodes of complete disablement and uncontrollable convulsions. While extreme seizures such as those are very real, not all seizures are the same. While some can be completely disabling and life-threatening, others are much more subtle, so much so that they can go completely unnoticed. During a seizure, brain cells that send messages to either excite or stop other cells are thrown off balance with either too much or too little activity. This creates a sudden rush of irregular electrical activity which then induces the seizure.
Seizures can come in all shapes, sizes and forms. For those who are still new to seizures, they can be very scary. Even if you’ve dealt with seizures for years it can still be a terrifying process. Seizures come in different stages, usually a beginning, middle and an end. The aura signals the beginning of the seizure, where a sufferer can have a strange, indescribable sensation that warns of the seizure; then, during the middle of the seizure, or the ictal phase, sufferers can experience an incredibly broad range of symptoms, from slurred speech to convulsions to confusion; finally, the end of the seizure, often called the post-ictal phase, is where the body begins to return to a normal state. This process can be immediate or take hours, and some symptoms of this process include sleepiness, anxiety and nausea.
Over 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with epilepsy every year. It’s a very serious disorder and it has personally affected my life. I am an advocate for and ally of those with epilepsy, and I will do my best to foster an environment that is welcoming and beneficial to epilepsy sufferers.