I was 14. I’d gotten home from school one evening and we had just ordered food.
The new Willy wonka was playing on the TV and I was sitting down ready to eat my chips and mushy peas (my go to chippy meal but I can’t eat it anymore). My mum was there but I can’t remember anyone else. Everything was fine, I felt fine, all was well.
A few minutes later I’m on the living room floor with no recollection how I got there. All I remember seeing was peas on the floor, my mum crying her eyes out, my neighbours and 2 strange men in green suits (took me a few minutes to figure out these were paramedics).
I was unable to move, I started crying asking what was happening but nobody was answering me, but now I realise it was because I was slurring my words and nobody could actually understand me. One of the paramedics asked what my address was. I didn’t know. He asked my date of birth. I didn’t know. He asked my name... nope! still didn’t know.
They looked at each other really concerned, which in turn terrified me, as I still had no idea what was happening to me. They tried to get me to stand on my own but my legs stopped working and my upper body was like a lead weight, so i had one either side of me, sort of giving me a chair into the ambulance. At this point I could remember who i was and where I lived, but still no clue what was going on.
It wasn’t until I heard the paramedic tell my mum on the way to the hospital “it sounds like a grand mal seizure” that I could grasp what was going on. All I know is that I had a headache, my tongue hurt, I was about to throw up and my eyes felt like they were going to fall out my head.
I was 15. I was in science with my 2 best friends chatting away, it was the lesson before dinner so everyone was just wanting to leave. One minute I was laughing, and the next I felt fear, the most intense fear I’ve ever felt. A wave of haziness came over me and the room shifted, not a lot, but it just felt like the room was slowly turned about 30 degrees on its side.
My mind went blank so I closed my eyes and put my head on the desk “I must be starving” I thought. I opened my eyes to the lady that worked in the school sick room. I was suddenly on the floor and my head was pounding. She was asking if I knew where I was, once again, I had no idea. I tried to move but I couldn’t.
I’m not sure why but I remember this seizure so vividly, I remember being cold from the plastic floor, I remember smelling gas (science room so people mess about with the gas taps of course), and I remember just looking at the book on the floor next to me while people were trying to talk to me. I was looking at it thinking “is that mine or someone else’s, if it’s mine I’ll have to make sure I put it in my bag” while Ann from the sick room was clicking her fingers in my face.
The men in green suits came in again, except these ones were much nicer. They got me in a wheelchair and whisked me off into the ambulance. I looked to my left and there was a sea of faces looking through the glass doors. It was dinner time so everyone got a nice little show that day. Livid.
I was 15. At this point they suspected it was epilepsy, so I was in the works to get some tests and get the ball rolling with medication. However they said if I was to have another “normal” seizure I didn’t have to go to hospital. I only had to go if it was longer than 10 minutes, or if I had one immediately after the other.
I was thrilled by this as the fluorescent lights in the hospital hurt my eyes beyond belief after a seizure! I felt kind of woozy that night, so as a precaution I wanted to get in my mums bed (because you’re never too old to need your mum). I remember the room was in darkness and I looked over at my mums wardrobe and it resembled a tall man, very Frankenstein-esque but square all over, I shook it off.
Then the flashing lights started and I smelled something weird, it was copper or blood, so at first I thought I’d had a nose bleed and went to switch on a light, but I didn’t quite make the light switch. I woke up on the bed to my mum telling me I’d had a seizure, but I felt absolutely fine. No headache, no sore eyes, and I was very present. I asked her was she sure and she said “only a little one” I even messaged my then boyfriend immediately to tell him.
I was fine so we got back in bed, however I think that was a warm up. I woke up again to the green suited men asking me if I knew where i was... off we go to hospital again I suppose. When you have one after the other they suspect the worst, brain tumours things like that. However I think I didn’t have the first one properly, my brain was like “no let’s level this up a bit” and hit me again. Just because it’s nice like that.
I’d had MRI scans, EEGs, ECGs and lots of testing to find out what brought my seizures on, however they had no clue. Not photosensitive, not hyperventilation, not lack of sleep, so there’s nothing I had to avoid which was nice.
They trialled me on my first medication but I was uncontrollably vomiting, so that was stopped after 2 weeks. Then they tried me on lamotrogine which worked amazing, weird hallucinations aside. I was seizure free. I was told I could drive, I could get discharged as it was controlled, and 2 years later I was told I could even stop my medication. However I wanted to stay on it, just in case.
Everyone was thrilled with me, and I was thrilled with myself being a normal human again. I was 23. I’d been out the night before, and I mean OUT. I stayed in my boyfriends and was hungover to death, I think he had a cob on with me because I was in such a state (rightfully so), but I managed to get up and get ready for him to take me home.
As I was putting my shoes on I felt a familiar haziness. I grabbed his hand and said I didn’t feel right. He lectured me on drinking to much (rightfully so) but stayed there with me anyway. The room took a quick spin so I put my head in my hands.
I woke up on his bed to the most terrified facial expression I’ve ever seen. He was staring at me, tears in eyes, looking at me in absolute horror. I couldn’t lift my head. His dad came in the room with a cup of tea. I managed to murmur “have I had a fit?”, to which his dad replied “yeah girl, a little one but you’re sound” which honestly, to this day is the most calm I’ve ever been after a seizure.
I drank my tea, had a nap, and went home. I sobbed to my mum, I thought this was over. However the alcohol I’d drank was enough to give anyone a seizure, lesson learned.
I was 24. I had another hangover, however nothing to the extent of that last one but I knew it was silly. I slept all day, literally didn’t move until about 5pm when there was talk of Chinese food, I thought that would fix me. I turned to my boyfriend who I suddenly didn’t recognise. I smelled the copper again “please be a nosebleed” I thought.
It wasn’t a nosebleed. I woke up to my mum at my bedside and another panicked boyfriend. However I sort of handled this one. It was my fault, I knew what would happen if I drank but I did it anyway. My own stupid fault so never again.
I was 26. I was not hungover but had 2 beers after a meal the night before. However the weekend just gone I had attended a wedding, not drunk on any night but I basically drank 3 days on the bounce. I knew this was a risky game at this point so I just tried to sleep as much as possible, and it worked.
I slept all day, must’ve been a heavy sleep as I fell out the bed but threw myself back up on there. When I opened my eyes about 3pm something wasn’t right, I was dizzy and my mouth was so sore. I touched my cheek and it was ok, I went to shout my mum and as I moved my tongue I realised it was that.
I sat up and the room was spinning, I looked at the blood on my pillow and felt my tongue, or felt the chunk I’d just taken out of it. “Ah, that’s what that is” I thought. I stood up but my legs didn’t let me, I fell to the floor immediately. I pulled myself up by my bed and stood up, I tried to walk but fell into my wardrobe and back onto the floor. I crawled back onto the bed and shouted my mum again.
However at this point I remembered they’d all gone out, I called her in a blind panic to tell her I’d had another seizure, however i was barely saying words due to the nice chunk of tongue I’d just took away. Looks like I didn’t just fall out the bed after all.
I was 27. I was in work, and yes I had been out the night before. At this point I had figured out my “in moderation” limits, and maybe I had surpassed them slightly. However I still managed to do my hair, makeup, and look respectable for work. I went to go the toilet and felt the haziness, the unfamiliarity of my surroundings and the spinning room.
I sat down, I made myself as safe as I could in a small cubicle. I woke up on the floor and wobbled out of the bathroom to my colleague who’s also my auntie. She looked at my face and knew what had happened, mainly because of the smudged makeup and huge bump on my forehead. I went home and vowed to stop drinking.
I have to stop being so self destructive and dangerous if I want to have any sort of life.
I am 28. I moved out and I live alone, the last drink I had was a few weeks prior which was a glass or 2 of Prosecco on a Saturday night. Drinking isn’t a thing for me anymore and all of my friends know what the deal is and everything is good.
I go visit my mum, do some shopping, and my dad drops me off home. I’m putting the shopping away and I feel odd. I shake it off and do the dishes, I go a bit woozy but I shake it off. Then it hits me, the spinny room, the blurred vision, the not knowing where I am. I dart for the couch and I make it, I put a pillow next to me so I don’t fall off and put my hands over my eyes. I keep telling myself I’m fine and it will pass.
It did not pass. I woke up, unable to stand, unable to move, unable to get help. When I manage to move, the first person I contact is my boss to say I won’t be in work tomorrow (priorities innit). He contacts my old boss but still sort of boss, who contacts my auntie who I work with, who contacts my other auntie who just happens to be with my mum.
My uncle and my dad come to take me back to my mums house to stay. And here I am still in my mums 3 weeks later, and I have to say this one hit me hard. I didn’t hurt myself at all but I can’t blame this one on myself. I used to say “stupid girl stop drinking” and move on with my life, but I don’t get to do that this time.
Maybe it was lack of sleep, but when I say lack of sleep I was sleeping, just not a lot, so maybe I’m clutching at straws here. I just don’t know where I stand now in terms of my limitations, what do I need to avoid, what can I do, what happens now my medication doesn’t seem to be working.
I’ve been signed off work for a little while to try and pick up the pieces. I’m not sleeping and I’m terrified of my own shadow at the minute, but the people I love have been amazing and so supportive, especially work.
This recovery will take some time I know that, but the first step is asking for help. The minute I asked for help, I got it from all corners of my little life and for that reason, I am eternally grateful for them all.