Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Therapy and Side Effects

By now we all understand that Epilepsy is one long string of side effects. It's still a mystery as to why I started having seizures, but I know that the seizures themselves were a side effect of whatever else was going on in my body. So we decide to treat the "side effect seizures" with medications that cause all sorts of other strange, scary, and sometimes deadly side effects.

I'm in therapy. I'm there, not because of the seizures themselves, but because of the vast destruction that the medications treating them has left in their wake. What I've been finding is that any issue that I grew up with and may have held onto in my adult life (even unknowingly) is violently amplified.

Imagine, for example, I wasn't really good at playing baseball when I was a kid. Maybe I was picked on because I was so bad, and as an adult I held onto these bad memories. For most people these feelings would stay in the background, never surfacing again. One could say that those moments in my life built character and taught me lessons about life. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Now start having seizures and start taking these medications. Baseball becomes an epicenter of ALL the problems I had as a kid. All of the sudden I remember the feel of the baseball jersey on my skin during games, the sound of the ball hitting the glove, the crowd yelling, "easy out!" when I would come up to the plate, the feel of dirt in my eyes after sliding into a base, the voices of the boys who picked on me, and what kinds of things they would say. Then, I start to hate baseball in general. I never want to go to games, or watch them on TV. When I see a hat with a baseball logo it makes me sick. I'm so embarrassed that I was bad at baseball that I start to think about hurting myself. Maybe I daydream a little about what all of those boys would say if I were dead. Would I still be just an "easy out"? Everything is so real, and I can't understand why nobody else can see what I see.

This is an example of the kind of fight that goes on in my brain everyday. And it's because of those feelings that I'm on more medications to counteract the dangerous side effects of anti-epileptic drugs.

I fought going to therapy for years, but that was also a side effect of the medication... I've been known to be a stubborn person, but the stubbornness was amplified to the point where I would have all-out arguments about it. "Can't you see what I see? I don't need therapy!"

Now I see a psychologist to talk and work out my issues, and a psychiatrist for prescribing medciations. The psychiatrist works with my neurologist, so we're all on the same page as far as that goes.

To discover that deep, inner-issues are being forced to surface and amplified by medication is something I'm still working on. Epilepsy is not just a string of seizures... it's a character trait, it's a lifestyle, it's a prison.