Epilepsy and Anxiety
I had my first anxiety attack when I was 16, shortly after I had my first tonic clonic seizure. From there, I’ve experienced daily anxiety around everyday life and living with epilepsy. Many people have asked me “What is having anxiety like?”
Anxiety can be debilitating, and panic attacks can feel very physically real. When experiencing panic attacks, it can feel like a very heavy weight is on your chest and you can’t get a full breath. These panic attacks can last anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes. Symptoms can also include feelings of dying or losing control of yourself, rapid breathing, numbness, and a racing heart. You may feel dizzy, sweaty, or shaky. These symptoms come on suddenly and without warning.
General anxiety is more consistent and less intense than panic attacks but it can always be in the back of your mind causing ongoing uneasiness and fear. Anxiety on a daily basis is having consistent nervousness and worry. For me, I’m consistently having anxiety surrounding my epilepsy including:
- Will I have a seizure?
- What if I embarrass myself if I have a seizure?
- Am I safe? Will I hurt myself?
- Will I experience SUDEP?
Anxiety and panic can be a very real part of everyday life, especially when you’re living with epilepsy. Increased anxiety can act as a trigger for seizures, as it does for me, so it’s very important to learn tips and tricks to control it.
There are many ways to cope with anxiety including receiving help from a counsellor or therapist and practicing meditation or mindfulness. Each person is different, and each person’s anxiety is different so something that works for one person that might not work for another person. Many things that were recommended to me that I tried didn’t work to calm my anxiety, so it is important to find what works for you.
Anxiety is a normal part of life and the biggest thing is acknowledging it and working on finding different ways to cope with it.