Category Archives: Mental Health

The Most Pervasive Problems with Epilepsy and Mental Health

Gray and Blue Photo Fitness Facebook Post (1).jpg

Hey bb’s!

How was your weekend?? I hope you weren’t working all weekend! I got to spend some time with my Boo and we got her some “non work clothes” for the weekends. It was fun! She got some super cute work out clothes and some chill clothes for around the house. She works so damn hard, she totally deserves it! Also, I was nominated for two categories in the WEGO health awards!! Click here to nominate me!

I wanted to write about emotions regarding seizures. At first I thought, “Hey this will be a piece of cake!” I totally get what it’s like to have emotion shifts after seizures, but after doing some more extensive research, I realized I was in way over my head.

Sadness after seizures is more detailed than I thought of it to be. Through my research, it  brought up feelings that sometimes pop up throughout everyday life, and memories of feeling sad after a seizure. Regardless, I am going to break up the sections of  Emotions before a seizure, After a seizure, and Medication & Genes.

Before a Seizure
Some people with epilepsy can feel irritable, anxious, or depressed up to days or weeks before the actual seizure occurs. I know that for me, I definitely feel depressed before a seizure occurs. Although it is tricky; I need to always assess these feelings and see if it’s an episode of depression coming on, or just an aura.
In addition, your neurologist or epileptologist may have told you that stress, lack of sleep, memory problems, and low self esteem lead to a higher risk of seizures. All of these combined can contribute to poor mental health, which could trigger a seizure, or is especially felt after a seizure.

After a Seizure
Lack of memory of what happened during the seizure can trigger sad feelings. This past Friday, I had four black-out seizures which made me very sad and  overwhelmed.
Not knowing what happened can be very concerning.  Additionally, if you do not have a good support network, having seizures can be very difficult. I am lucky in that I have a strong support network of my Boo, my nuclear family, and friends. If a person doesn’t have that support network, it can make having seizures that much more difficult. This also ties into a work/life situation. Sometimes having a seizure can make you recall that you are not able to work, do not have good support systems, and are alone.

Medication and Genes
A side effect of your anti epileptic drugs may cause depression and or anxiety. I checked all of my medication and common side effects do not cause depression or anxiety for me. I take Clobozam, Tegretol, Mysoline, and Cypralex. I do experience lack of appetite from my medication. Although if you have genes of family members with depression or anxiety you are more likely to have depressive episodes and or anxiety.
My mum experiences depression (less so these days) so I believe that was genetically passed down to me. I am also very hard on myself, so that really doesn’t help. I don’t solely blame my genes for depression, as I do have other factors going on, such as being unable to work.

I definitely have low periods, and I am working harder to express my emotions and let myself cry when I need to. It is very hard because I have been told for a long time that I am very strong, which I interpreted as being able to handle anything. I also interpreted that as not showing too much emotion, which has been bad for my overall well being. I am lucky that I have people to talk to, and especially people whom I know love me unconditionally plus friends with chronic illnesses.

I need to find more support groups in my area, that deal solely with epilepsy. I know there is one in my area, but I just need some courage to go.

Love,
Sita Gaia xox

 

 

Advertisements

What I Keep in My Self-Care toolkit

Hey bb’s!

2311886-woman-doing-yoga-in-nature-lotus-figure-on-wooden-bridge-dot-photocase-stock-photo-large.jpeg

I hope that you are enjoying the sun if it is sunny where you are. It is crazy sunny and hot over here in Canada, but it is so nice to see the sun.

My last post was about 4 Reasons Why Self Care is Hard. Even though it’s hard, I still do it. I am pretty sure I would be a disaster area if I never practiced it. Maybe my toolkit will help you with creating your own self care toolkit, if you haven’t already done so.

1. Meditate
Meditating is essential to my self care toolkit. as I have Psychogenic Non epileptic seizures, doing 5 minutes of meditation before bed helps to relax me and cool down my anxiety before sleep. If you’re anxious, I find that anxiety often pops up the most before sleep because the TV is off, you’re in bed, and you can  only hear the beat of your heart. (OK, that was a bit cheesy). I use an App called Insight Timer, and there are a tonne of different meditations, for different lengths. It also notifies you when you have reached milestones with your meditation, so that helps with staying motivated.

2. Apply a Facemask
My Fiancee and I often do facemasks on Fridays, to celebrate the end of the work week and also to wind down from current stressors. If you follow me on Instagram at joeyjo422, you will see that I love a good facemask.

3. Practice Yoga
This feels like a typical North American/Millenial/hipster thing to say, but I find that simply practicing the poses puts me in a better state of mind.  I hate the North Americanization of Yoga, but that’s for another post, maybe? Since moving away from my key yoga studio, I find I practice Yoga online mostly. If you want someone to check out try: The best yoga chanell!!   I know this lady in real life and she is fantastic.

4. Grab Coffee with friends
I always enjoy grabbing coffee with a friend, as I am able to catch up with them and am staying connected to my social circle. I also enjoy spending time by myself and read a good book while sipping on some java. (omg I sound so old school today! What’s going on??!)

5. Listen to Music
I feel like this one would be in most people’s self care kits. I always love waking up to Amy Winehouse, and then maybe listen to some Halsey in the afternoon. It totally depends on the vibe of the day! I also really appreciate live concerts, but those can add up in terms of cost.

6. Watch Stand up Comedy on Netflix
I got into Stand up comedy when I was super depressed about 3 years ago, with dire hopes to maybe get a laugh out of my monotone self. It was a good effort, and in that time I discovered Iliza Schlesinger. She is super hilarious and I highly suggest her newest Netflix special “Confirmed Kills”, if stand up comedy is your kinda thing.

7. Spend time with my fiancee
I love spending time with my fiancee, and doing fun things like going to the farmer’s market or even grocery shopping. She is super special and makes me really happy. I would have to say that a key part of having people in your self care toolkit is to make sure they make you happy and you don’t have a toxic relationship with them.

I think I could go on and on with regards to what’s in my toolkit, but those are the basic ones that I rely on. I also realize that self care means something different to everyone. When I was on Instagram, I saw that my friend had gone camping, and one of the hashtags she used was #selfcare. I find that super cool!  If I was able to run I would totally have running in my toolkit, but that’s off the table, just for now. What’s in your toolkit? Do we have the same ones?!

Lots of love,

Sita Gaia xox

4 Reasons Why Self Care is Hard

Hey bb’s!
I am sure you have heard about self-care, (especially if you have a form of chronic illness), and have been told to practice self-care. In my Social Work degree, the idea of self-care was beaten into us. But what is it? It is the way of taking care of yourself when you need down time or are feeling symptoms due to your illness. (ie Seizures, exhaustion, flare up, hard to walk, etc.)
self care.jpg1.You Feel Selfish
Taking time for yourself to recharge or just tell your partner or friends that you cannot do much one day feels crappy. It feels weird sometimes to say “Hey I can’t come out and meet you because I had a really bad sleep and pushing myself would be too much.” I am lucky that my fiancee is super supportive and understands that some days I can’t do too much.

2.You Miss out On Social Events
Sometimes when you need some good self care time, also happens to clash with social events that you were looking forward to. This year I missed my own birthday party due to Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures. I was super bummed because the majority of people were actually attending! It was for the best though, and thankfully it wasn’t on my actual birthday.

3.Sometimes you don’t know *how* to self-care
Prior to getting many seizures, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what is in my self-care toolkit. (Stay tuned to find out what they are!) It can be difficult to figure out what the best self care options are best for you. For a person with a chronic illness, it can vary greatly, as everyone has different abilities. Going for a short walk might be good for me but not so good for a person with arthritis who is experiencing a flare up.

4. Your Self-Care can seem “lazy”
if You need to rest in your home without doing much, it can feel like you’re being “lazy”. As a person who never, ever wants to be called or labelled as lazy, this is a very hard one for me. When I legitimately need down time, I wish I could have done more around the house, and it makes me feel bad when I haven’t pulled my weight when my fiancee comes home. Although she understands, I am very hard on myself, which drives me crazy.

I’m having a self care day, so I have been thinking about this a lot. I’ll be posting about my own personal self-care toolkit soon so stay tuned!

Love,
Sita Gaia xox

Sita Gaia VS. Anxiety

Hey bb’s,

Stressed-out-anxious-woman-980x654I overbooked my schedule this week and now I am exhausted. That caused two seizures so now I am too anxious to leave the house. This is so shitty when it gets like that. I had plans to see my mum and get pedicures for an early mother’s day gift, see a friend who is going back to the UK forever on Saturday, and help my fiancee with groceries.

Let’s say one thing: sometimes I go into overdrive and feel I need to be as “productive” as a person without a chronic illness. That’s what fucks me over and I still haven’t learned the lesson, but sometimes I still feel the need to do try harder and harder.

Honestly, all I wanted to do was see Melissa McCarthy’s new movie tonight and chill. Yas I love her, as she is fucking hilarious.  I rewatch her really old show (that, let’s be really is problematic) Mike and Molly because it’s funny.

I hate the anxiety that comes with epilepsy. Yes there are tons of things that can combat it, such as meditation (and I meditate daily), but it’s a reality. I know that. It pisses me off. I hate staying at home all day as I at least like walking down three blocks to the Starbucks but it makes me anxious, and my fiancee anxious. Yeah, I know that dwelling on it doesn’t help, but I’m not happy with how my day is turning out.

Lots of love,

Sita Gaia

Sita Gaia VS. Exercise

Hey bb’s,

18268368_10154392609790776_7290771774937748565_nWoohoo it is almost summer! Finally done with the hybernating!
I have been feeling a bit down today but I had some errands around the house to do so I did them because I knew that would help. I have gone on and off being a couch potato as TV is one of the major things that calm my stress and anxiety. I remember coming home from high school in Grade 12 and Oprah was on and i felt my stress melt away as I stretched out on the couch.
In university I went to the gym 5 days a week and did Zumba on Monday nights and sometimes even Sunday mornings! I was a bit of a gym rat, and going to the gym relaxed my stress from school and relationship issues. At 21, it became difficult to go to the gym due to my uncontrolled seizures and decided that yoga would ultimately be my workout. I love yoga, but I missed that satisfaction of a sweaty workout.

Today I was looking at the photos that I put up, and one of them was of just me that my friend took in my other friend’s Jeep See above.. We were all headed to the beach and I looked so happy. “What happened to that Sita Gaia?!” I asked out loud. I quickly decided to actually use my fitness clothes that were sitting there, and I popped on my headphones and snapback. Let me tell you: running after a long time was hard and I am sure I was huffing and puffing but that’s okay! I came home and since it was SO hot out, I pointed the oscillating fan in front of me as I did more full body exercises. I feel more like myself now and my low mood has been replaced with serotonin. It’s fucking fantastic! Sure, I won’t be able to do this everyday, but this is literally a step in the right direction!!

Love,
Sita & Jojo

The Holly hell of The Holidays

Hey bb’s,

Holiday season is upon us! I love the holidays, despite that where I live we rarely get a white Christmas, it is still fun to put up your tree, buy gifts, and write Christmas cards.

I asked WeYou're invited to anfor  addresses for so many Christmas cards, and since  we are living strange and worrisome times, multiple friends asked why I could have their mailing address. Is sending Christmas cards that old school?! I guess so.

Since I have made multiple big changes in my life and I am still adjusting- my neuropsychiatrist told me I am not allowed to work. He told me I need to relax more, and I had to ask him what he meant by “relax”. I am not a relaxer by nature- I love gallivanting around, seeing friends, being in Starbucks, making new plans and cleaning the house. (OK it’s an apartment but it’s easier to clean than when I was living with my parents.). I also love Fri-dates and Satur-dates with my fiancee. It has been hard to relax, as I got all of my Christmas shopping done and sent out a million Christmas Cards. (OK only ten lol).

Like anything, there is always a downside to Christmas. My epileptologist told me that Christmas is the biggest time where his patients have seizures. Last year I was out with seizures for 5 days after Christmas day. I find it exhausting to do two back to back things on one weekend, and as much as I love my family, too much family time can be too much! Despite being an extrovert by nature, I get sleepy earlier than most people. I am grateful that I am in a family that understands when I need a nap. My fiancee also wants to make sure that I am not “over doing it” so for that I am eternally grateful.

If you have a personal friend or family member in your life with a chronic illness, or even mental health issues, please be mindful that we are doing the best we can. We don’t have tonnes of energy, and sometimes pain, or  feeling overwhelmed gets to the best of us. The best gift you could give us is kindness and understanding that we are sometimes extra tired. If we have to miss out on something, such as due to having too many seizures, we don’t mean to.

Lots of love,
Sita & Jojo

P.S. Yup that’s the tackyaf tree that me and fiancee have. It was my idea, of course 😉

My Biggest F*cking Aha Moment

Today I had the biggest fucking aha moment. I was standing in the kitchen with my mum, after a dinner that my dad had prepared.

I have been going through a rough patch recently, with constant low mood, which has put a damper on my every day quality of living. On some days it is an accomplishment if I make the 15 minute walk to the Starbucks near my house. The depression feels like it eats me alive sometimes…and although I don’t lie in bed and cry, my body feels numb. I can’t feel anything. I tell people that the mental health aspect of the epilepsy is harder to deal with than the epilepsy itself. I have burnt myself with hot tea due to a seizure. No problem. I was able to rise from the ashes like a phoenix with four months of bandage changes, and a period of time on morphine and Tylenol Arthritis. The physical pain was awful, but I could still get through my every day life.

I have gone into a tail spin when I saw that a peer has gotten their Master’s degree in Social Work. As I told my mum so many times, “This wasn’t supposed to happen!” I wasn’t supposed to have my diagnosis changed to Refractory epilepsy. I was supposed to be normal, able to go out without worrying about what people will think when I ask for the disability seat, and not feel like my soul is drowning in depression on the really bad days. You can tell it’s been a bad time when you see me in the same outfit multiple days in a row, or when I need to put clothes on the floor near my bed so I can easily reach them when I have zero motivation to do anything.

Regardless, while we were in the kitchen, my mum put her hands on my shoulders and said “You are doing so, so, well. For someone in your situation, I am so impressed.” I was flabbergasted. What? I was doing well? ME!? On the days that I hide under my covers? The fact that I am not independent? “Yes,” my mum said. “You still get out there and socialize, and you ask for help when you need it. You could just be in a hole, but you make the effort not to be.

WOAH. My mum is right. I could just hide and be in my own little world. I’m not though! I am taking a pre-requisite at a community college, am an active co-organizer of a queer women’s Meet Up group, see friends, practice yoga, ask for help when I need it,  and spend time with my family….to name a few things.

Holy shit guys, I’m not letting life pass me by! I am living it- chronic illness and all!! I am not a failure!!

Love,
Sita and JoJo xox