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I was diagnosed with epilepsy as a teenager and it was a very stressful and worrying time for both me, and my family.

I knew literally nothing about epilepsy when I was diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy and my lack of even the most basic knowledge on the subject meant I did the one thing I shouldn’t and panicked.

I’ve lived with the condition for 18 years now and I can hand on heart say that Epilepsy hasn’t impacted my life in even a fraction of the way I feared it would.

Forewarned, as they say, is forearmed and so in this post I’m just going to cover the most basic facts and figures. I hope that one day, someone who finds themselves in a similar situation to the one I was in 18 years ago will read this post and feel a little less scared and a little more positive.

The type of epilepsy I have can be inherited and although I didn’t inherit it myself, my children could inherit it from me. This doesn’t frighten me like it perhaps would other parents. I know how to deal with a seizure, I know how to take measures to reduce risk of seizures and I know that many, many people with epilepsy live their lives just as they would’ve without the condition.


What is Epilepsy?

Put simply, epilepsy is irregular electrical activity in the brain.

How is it caused?

There may be an obvious cause for a person developing epilepsy, such as brain trauma, stroke or meningitis. In six out of ten cases however, like in my case, there is no obvious cause.

Types of Epilepsy

There are many types of epilepsy and each person with epilepsy will present their symptoms in a different way. There are no textbook tell tale signs and children may even have a seizure that isn’t a result of epilepsy. I think the key is not to panic, to take in all the information you are given and to do some research before jumping to any conclusions or worrying too much.

How to deal with a seizure

    • First of all – don’t put anything in the mouth! There is a huge myth around this – people believe that putting something into the mouth of a person having a seizure will prevent them from swallowing their tongue, but in reality you’re really only providing an extra hazard. By placing something in the mouth you are increasing the risk of choking or damage to the jaw and teeth.


    • Stay calm


    • If possible, place something under the  head of the person if they are on the floor


    • If you do not know the person having a seizure, or if you know them but the seizure is lasting longer than usual, or if you feel they are at extra risk in any way, call an ambulance. Many people with epilepsy have information cards on their person so check their purse or wallet, or look for talisman jewellery. This will provide valuable information for when medical assistance arrives.


There are some really good charities offering all kinds of information and support for people wanting to find out more about epilepsy. My main source of information when I was diagnosed was a charity called Epilepsy Action. I found the website invaluable.

Epilepsy isn’t as terrible as I imagined it would be when I was first diagnosed. I have lived my life in much the same way as I always would have. I have carried and given birth to two children, my epilepsy has never stood in the way of any career path I chose and I have driven since I was 21.

Epilepsy is not a sentence. In fact, I think it makes me more interesting!


Written by our regular contributor Karen Hannah.

Twitter: @grumpyishmum

All views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Room To Grow.

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