For nearly 3 years now I’ve been suffering from Non-Epileptic Seizures. It all started back in 2018 when I was on my way back from London and woke up on a train station platform. The train staff were very comforting, letting me know what happened.
What I wasn’t expecting was what the reason was for me to be lying on the train station platform. One of the kind staff said to me, “Melissa, you have had a seizure, we’ve phoned your dad and he’s on his way. We got your information from your passport and then contacted your emergency contact”.
At first, I was panicking, as I’d never had a seizure before I was never known to have them. But my brother was! He was epileptic and on the way back from the station I was with my dad in the car and all these questions were going around in my head.
“What has caused this seizure to happen?”
“Did I knock my head hard on the floor?” - As I had an awful headache after the incident.
What I didn’t realise was what effect this would have later on in my life. I would start to have daily seizures and this restricted me from working as I was working in a nightclub at the time. So, when I went to get tested, they ruled out it was epileptic seizures at first.
But, a few months on, it was proven not to be epileptic seizures; it was a case of Non-Epileptic seizures. At first, I had no knowledge of what this diagnosis was but by doing my own research I have average knowledge of what it is now.
Today, 3 years on I still suffer from these seizures and they have changed my life. They have caused me to go jobless and not be fit to work. That means I’m stuck at home all day every day. Also not being allowed to drive as it’s dangerous if I do so. That limited me to where I can go as I live on the outskirts of my town.
But what has affected me the most is losing my friends. I’ve lost a lot of my friends due to these seizures as my friends are scared to be around me. At first, they were okay with it but as it became a regular thing they just got fed up, I guess.
I was touring with my friends known as Jedward and I had a seizure just before the concert. So this leads to an ambulance being called and the decision my friends had to make, ‘Who would go with me in the ambulance?’
Luckily I felt okay after a check-up in the ambulance and I was bouncing back half an hour later just in time for the concert. It was a weird experience. Normally when I have a seizure, I have a massive headache and I’m drained but this time that wasn’t the case.
After this experience, I did learn who my true friends were but I also learnt that I can’t expect everyone to wait around for me. I would want them to enjoy their time and not be in an ambulance missing the concert.
3 years ago, yes this would have upset me to see my friends leave me to go to the concert without me, but now, I see it as a positive because I’m not dragging them behind and making them miss out on a fun experience.
It’s grand to realize that everything happens for a reason, you find out who your true friends are the hard way. But then again do you have to see it like that? Try to turn it into a positive so it’s good for your mindset.
“In case of a cabin pressure emergency, put on your own mask first before assisting others.” We always hear this sentence every time we take a flight. It is a good concept to apply to our lives. We need to remember the importance of helping ourselves first before helping others. Putting yourself doesn’t mean you’re choosing either your or another's life. It means putting yourself makes you function better and strengthens you to support your loved ones better. Even a therapist can ask guidance from other therapists. It doesn’t mean they’re not credible. It helps them prepare and recharge so that they can help clients as well.
One way of self-help is self-love. Loving yourself is different from being a narcissist. A Narcissist needs professional guidance because Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance. They lack empathy and therefore rarely make friends with others. Different from being narcissistic, self love is an act to appreciate and care about oneself.
Self-love is a journey and everyone should have a trial and error method to find the best way to love themselves. In order to help our self, here some ideas that I’ve tried and you can apply them too:
No screen day
Due to online situations, life is attached to the screen. Sometimes, I’ve gotten very anxious about things on social media. I couldn’t bear to look at notifications on my social media. So, reconnecting with nature instead of the screen, would be very relaxing.
Hugging someone with no context
This gives me another level of satisfaction. When hugging someone, I feel calm and relax. Also, my negative emotions go away. It may be because the stress hormone is released.
I’m not sure with the actual method, but it is kind of staying still and being aware of nature’s sounds. Nature’s sounds help release my anxiety and stress.
Those tips may work for some people but not others. Hopefully, they can help some of you guys. Enjoy your journey to a fulfilling life!
Ice cream. A treat that is loved by people all across the globe - myself included. It tastes so good, good enough to make me sick. Suddenly, I am covered in red rashes and find myself sneezing profusely. I remember my mom saying, “I told you to stay away from milk and milk based products. You don’t listen to me! “ But how do you resist something so tasty? I pondered. ”You have to resist for your own good.” This may be easier said than done.
According to Mayo Clinic, an allergy is an abnormal response of our own immune system, causing our bodies to fight a peaceful substance. This can cause a variety of symptoms which can range from coughing and wheezing, to shortness of breath and digestion problems. I am lucky that my milk allergy is moderate and does not cause anaphylaxis (closing of the airway). Some people, however, aren’t as lucky. In fact, anaphylaxis is quite a common issue. Though there are parallel symptoms between a milk allergy and lactose intolerance, it is important to note that they are not the same. Each needs different routes of treatment in order for a patient to experience relief.
So, how did I find out I have a milk allergy?
When I was about one year old, my mom took me to a doctor as I was showing signs of breathlessness after drinking milk. They performed blood and skin tests, and determined that I had developed a milk allergy. When I first learned this, I wondered: “why did it take so long to figure it out?”
It didn’t. We don’t have a fully developed immune system at birth. As it continues to grow, our systems can make mistakes and initiate fights that have no source of prior conflict, hence allergies. In my case, when I drink milk, my immune system sends out antibodies to attack the casein protein found in the substance, which creates sickness-like responses. These responses are different in each individual.
How do I cope with my love for sweets and how do I manage symptoms?
I rely on antihistamines or sometimes epinephrine shots. Both of these help my body to realize that there is nothing harmful to battle within it. Since you can’t be taking these drugs constantly, I avoid consuming milk at all costs. I do this by looking up the labels for each and every product I eat. Sometimes the casein protein will be found in food products that don’t list it as an ingredient. It is important to be aware of this, and consult your immunotherapist or general practitioner about any foods or drinks you are concerned about. I mainly eat soy or rice based frozen desserts, sorbets or puddings which are really good substitutes for those I can’t enjoy, like ice cream. I will admit, I give in sometimes and eat treats that contain the casein protein, but I quickly pay for it by experiencing my usual symptoms. Then as usual I have red rashes and have to take antihistamines. I have to take supplements too to fulfill my daily calcium and Vitamin-D requirements. This makes for quite the hassle. Thankfully, this allergy is well-known and science revolving around it is rapidly advancing. Soon enough, we will have better treatment. It’s just a matter of time, patience and symptom management.
In the meantime, however, if you or someone you know is struggling with symptom management or resistance, please feel free to reach out to me through our TWE platforms. I would be more than happy to offer you further tips and tricks.