mental health week: alcohol and epilepsy

woman struggling with alcohol today for my post on mental health, i’d like to share with you a letter i received a few days ago from a fellow canadian. while it is about the mental illness of addiction, i’d also like to think about it as a move towards mental wellness; wellness achieved by sharing our stories with others. here it is:

dear ms. mori

i am writing to you, as i have to many other ‘alcohol’ awareness/help organizations, regarding what i feel is a fairly unknown health problem. while everyone is painfully aware of society’s affair with drunk driving, i have only found one or two individuals, in the last few months, who have ever heard of this health problem and its cause. i’ll try to make it as brief as possible, however, please feel free to contact myself, should you require any further information what-so-ever.

to set the stage, the years preceding our health deterioration, we had both quit drinking for a year here and there, with no reactions at all, but went back to it, in order to keep some sanity in our previous/former bad marriages.

neither of us had ever heard of possible dreadful health effects, were warned only, of course, not to drink excessively for the obvious reasons, and then, not to drive! we both found it to be somewhat of a stress reliever though, as we were prone to worry.

both myself and my late husband were born to alcoholic mothers. they drank before, during and after pregnancy, but we were both born in good health. we picked up the nasty little drinking habit quite well, in our late teens. we were both well educated and held down good jobs with excellent income and work associates who, unfortunately, also loved to drink. never any illnesses or health problems, never a sick day off work, nor hospital visits. this all came to a devastating halt, for us both in our mid 40’s. it is called ‘grand-mal seizures’ (epilepsy).

there is no known cure!! prescription drugs are the only help. along with complete alcohol abstinence, permanently! the current drugs have pages and pages of horrific side effects and are costly. we both were forced to give up our occupations, which is unbelievably difficult to do when you have worked happily your entire life, not to mention being accustomed to a certain level of income.

seizures do not hit all drinkers, some not at all, some earlier, some later in life, with no rhyme or reason, similar to many health problems facing today’s society. i have a distant relative whose daughter was born with it, and, while her mom and dad have never consumed alcohol, suspicion is that her dad’s biological parents did. however, being adopted leaves the question unanswered.

your drivers license is suspended immediately when it hits, and not returned until you have made 6 full months, without an attack. however, it is like having a wretched poisonous snake, dwelling permanently inside of you, forever and ever, and ever! the medication professes to hold it down, so to speak, and yes, it does, however, it is always on your mind especially when your license to drive is returned and makes travelling costs to many doctor’s appointments slightly more affordable. there is a little journal book always here in our home, where it is noted, time and day the medication is taken, in dreaded fear of missing, then being served notice basically, by the python inside. he is very aware when he hasn’t received his breakfast or supper, call it his ‘tranquilizing medication’. consequently, you may or may not be served his wrath! i trust you get the picture.

i never ever leave the house without checking this precious little diary, always sitting in clear, plain view, as having a seizure while driving could cause horrendous dreadful consequences! this is not drunk driving, so to speak, but the aftermath of drinking for years and years, not to mention the worry of it causing a fall, splitting your skull open (again), or breaking bones.

a year before my spouse passed away, he had a seizure while in a large parking garage, negotiating two upward steps, and literally flew over 20 ft., landing and breaking his hip, resulting in surgery, then a year long recovery process. this is for someone who at 6 ft 4″ tall, in excellent physical condition. but he was lucky that time! not to mention a previously broken arm & ankle, from the same cause! never had he broken a single bone in his life!!

i am attempting to bring this to as many organizations attention, as possible, as well as our government leaders, hoping that it will eventually result in them ruling for all liquor containers to bear a large warning, and to raise the purchase prices as well! cigarette manufacturers have been forced to do both, while our government still makes plenty of money from them, so, they don’t lose out. but i can’t remember ever hearing of a terrible traffic accident or severe fall, caused by smoking !?!

this type of life with a minor affliction is difficult. again, it causes a great deal of stress. my beloved’s passing away a year ago this month was a direct result of bleeding internally from a perforated ulcer, and his reluctance to go into the hospital for treatment immediately, as he didn’t want me to be on my own, i suspect, in case of an attack. needless to say, i’m on my own now.

i trust you will pass this on to others. i have been replied to by some folks on the subject, they believing, seizures are only caused from alcohol withdrawal! well, not so, not so at all !! it’s like wondering if the tenant inside is dead, alive, pissed off with you, bored or maybe, just maybe, unusually content! (for now!)

sincerely yours, in the hopes of helping others,

sjg in canada

(image by melody)

9 thoughts on “mental health week: alcohol and epilepsy

  1. gillian

    I was talking with a doctor friend of mine yesterday, about how it’s a PR/human rights snafu for a doctor to tell a woman that she shouldn’t be having children if she’s on drugs or alcohol; or more that he/she can’t stop the woman. He was discussing specifically having treated a 21-year-old morbidly obese unemployed woman who was getting $50K+/year hormone injections (paid for by Ontario) to get pregnant, because her body wouldn’t otherwise get pregnant since she was in such poor health. It’s not quite the same, but it boils down to babies being born with potential health risks because people aren’t getting the right guidance from their doctors.

    This is a sad situation, but I’m glad this person shared it, because I wasn’t aware of late-onset effects of being born to alcoholic mothers. I figured it was something that was obvious in childhood only.

    gillian’s last blog post..Having escaped death, Shebang realizes that she’s found another prison

  2. Evan

    And smoking doesn’t contribute to domestic violence or public violence.

    And the anti-smoking lobby are very silent on care exhausts.

    Which is all pretty annoying.

    I hope the consequences of excessive drinking (including seizures for some) become much more widely known. It would improve our society’s health enormously – it is probably the single most important health issue (from the remedy side of things).

  3. phd in yogurtry

    Is the writer of this letter implying that the onset of seizure disorder relates to her mother having been alcoholic? I didn’t intone that… and I am not aware of this connection. I am, however, well aware of seizures due to years of heavy drinking. A point worth emphasizing. Yet another arm of the devestation that is alcoholism. Thanks for printing the letter

    phd in yogurtry’s last blog post..finding mona

  4. isabella mori

    @gillian who is or isn’t allowed to have children is an interesting ethical question. i personally think that all in all, it’s a good idea for governments to stay out of it. and doctors always have the option to say, in all honesty, i can’t countenance helping you with this, here’s a doctor who i think CAN help you.

    @phd i’m not sure whether the writer is implying that the epilepsy comes from being born to mothers who were drinking, or that it comes from their own drinking. i personally am only familiar with epilepsy in FAS/FAE children, not adult children but i’m certainly not an expert in that specialty.

    @evan yes, the effects of excessive alcohol intake can truly be devastating. i wouldn’t want to engage in a “this vice is worse than that vice” contest but it is worthwhile noting that a significant percentage of crime is directly related to excessive alcohol intake, as well as, obviously, many car accidents.

  5. Catherine

    I can completely idenity with everything you have said. Have had years of binge drinking and “having fun” burning the candle at both ends and holding down succesful career. What some would call a “functional alcoholic” I had my first seizure 2 weeks ago at the age of 32 after a big night out, and weeks of sleep deprivation and not eating properly…was very scary…awaiting an EEG. I hope it was a one off and the universe was telling to slow down. People need to be aware of the devasting effects of long term alcohol abuse.

  6. download blackjack

    its a great well written article so i have read this article carefully.its more informative and interesting.i like it very much.i think so u r right mostly people are not aware about their mental health so alcohol is a highly addictive substance and is the most abused drug in the United States, more so than steroids.drinking can also damage the liver, heart.it has horrific side effects and are costly.so be aware about mental health.last time my father has also addict of the alcohol so he was suffering brain problem but thanks god right now he is fine because he had left this habit .so thanks to give this article.

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