Okay y’all, I’m just going to say it. This one is not going to be easy to write. It’s real talk and real life, but I know that I am not alone in feeling this way, nor am I even alone in going through some similar things. Therefore, if my story can help anyone, me having any discomfort at all while sharing it, makes it all the more worth it. I have had Epilepsy now for a little over 14 years. The fact that it came on while I was an adult was both a blessing and a curse. I had a “normal” childhood and adolescence. I became a very independent person that worked and paid for myself to go to college. I got married, divorced, and became a single mom. After all this, I developed Epilepsy. My whole world changed forever, and so did my family’s. This is not the unspoken part of epilepsy. What is not spoken about enough is the DEPRESSION that goes along with ALL the losses that come with living with epilepsy. There is some talk about what we lose: our independence, our jobs, our ability to drive, sometimes our friends and our social life. Yet rarely do we discuss the overwhelming grief that comes with those losses.
The ebbs and flows of grief finally caught up with me on the day of my daughter’s 18th birthday party. I tried to take my own life. THANK GOD, I was unsuccessful. I am still working on the shame, guilt, and embarrassment of that. For example, “What kind of mother does that on the day of her child’s 18th birthday party?” That is going to take me a lot of therapy and time to process. I am so very thankful for my daughter because she had a gut feeling to keep calling me. When I did not answer the phone, she called my dad. He did not want to bother me because he thought I was taking a nap. I had been taking a lot of naps at that time. My daughter INSISTED, and that is how she saved my life. The ambulance said, two more minutes would have changed everything.
I have never done this before. I completely spun out of control that day, and it was something I have truly little to no memory about. I just know I was mandated to go into treatment, where I desperately received some much-needed help. The process of receiving help has confirmed my belief that clinicians and mental health facilities have a much longer way to go when it comes to treating patients with epilepsy and just human beings with mental health issues in general. I had a seizure there, and afterwards, I had to EDUCATE the mental health technician on what to do for seizures!
I am so very HUMBLED and grateful for the experience. Without a doubt I know I needed help, and I have learned my lesson. I have so much to be thankful for! I have felt lost for so long, feeling like I did not have a purpose. I reached out to the Anita Kaufmann Foundation back in the Spring to help with Epilepsy Awareness and it has been wonderful, but then COVID took a turn for the worse again here in the southern states isolating me once again. My stay in the hospital taught me some great self-care tools that I would love to share with others that may feel isolated and depressed. My heart wants to continue to doing Epilepsy Awareness forever and always, but I also want to shout it to the roof tops to everyone that will listen, especially to the professional world of clinicians, that depression and epilepsy together are a dangerous double-edged sword. This type of depression is not just what you see in standard patients. We are WORTHY to deserve help, and I am ready to shout it from the roof tops and dig in the purple trenches!
This is a long blog, and I apologize for that! I have added some pictures of some happier times these last few months. So, please enjoy those. I am trying very hard to work and gently mend my relationship with my daughter, as I know what I did to her was DEVASTATING. If you are struggling with depression……..PLEASE REACH OUT FOR HELP!!!!!!!
Author: Lynn Palmer
My friend holly and I finishing the Magnolia Walk (GA Epilepsy Foundation Walk). We were late getting there, so we brought up the end, but had a great time
My purple pumpkin and my daughter Emma's pumpkin. You can still be 18 and LOVE dinosaurs!
One of my oldest and dearest friends, Wendy Edwards. We had some girlfriend time together last night. Getting some one -one-one time with your closest friends in precious and priceless
So, I did a not so "Mother of the year" thing, but in good spirit and sat on the OPPOSITE side of the football field at my daughter's high school football game last night, as they were playing my old high school. I was able to visit with my another one of my old high school girl friends. It was so much fun to go to a high school football game. Doing something totally out of the norm that is fun and happy, getting out side, and socializing is good for the soul!
Even though we were a "house divided" amongst teams last night, my daughter agreed to take a picture with me. She is a Senior and these make precious memories. I don't look like the movie star I would like to, but none of that is really a priority any more, it's making the memories with the people I love! Holidays, are coming up, so don't forget to get those cameras out, and to be in some of those pictures with those loved ones of yours!
My purple Epilepsy pumpkin is different than any other year. It probably means more as well. I was here to make it with my sweet family. I outlined ribbon in green to remember those of us that are struggling with depression and other mental illnesses that are either intertwined with Epilepsy or caused by it. I am ready stand up to it, and fight for us, are you?
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please get help right away through one or more of these resources:
- Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor.
- Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
- Contact a minister, a spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
- Make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health professional.