Epilepsy Talk

How Creative Are YOU? | March 5, 2010

I was born a writer.  Just like I was born with brown eyes.  In 5th grade when we were assigned to write a poem with an illustration, everyone wrote about the spring, flowers, stars, the city, the country. I wrote about racism.  My illustration was a black silhouette pasted against white paper.  My teacher promptly sent me home with a note for my parents, accusing me of plagiarism.

I continued to write now and then, winning the occasional essay contest, bringing home a poetry prize, encouraged by my mother.  But it wasn’t until I turned 14, that I really started to pick up steam.  That’s also when I was diagnosed with epilepsy.

Did I become a writer (which I still am, professionally) because I had epilepsy or was it a mere coincidence?

That seems to be up for conjecture…

There can definitely be a creative side to the electrical mischief that epilepsy produces.  Some types of epilepsy can spark inspiration, enhance creativity and bring out the latent artist in you.  It can be as diverse as literature…poetry…painting…drawing…dramatics…architecture…philosophy…or physics…to name just a few.

Researchers claim that often these surprise talents are associated with temporal lobe epilepsy.  In this case, the sides of the brain, where memory and feelings reside, are intermittently seized by those “electrical storms” which produce the spark. Although the seizures may be undetectable to observers, they can prompt hallucinations, religion, fury, fear, joy and an unquenchable desire to create, even after the seizure is over.

So you may not know it, but you may have some surprise artistic talents hidden away.  Give it a try.  Dabble a little.  Try a little drawing, painting, writing.  It’s exciting, energizing, rewarding, all-encompassing, and I must admit, a wonderful escape.  Like making lemons out of lemonade!






  1. My 5 year old grandson has atypical epilepsy with absense and grand mal seizures. He is on 500mg of Depakote daily. He is spunky and wonderful and brilliant, but also quite emotional and his mood can be quite unpredictable, as you can imagine. He has to be watched pretty much all of the time. Here is my question: can anybody give us advice on how to have him accepted for Social Security Disability because my daughter is unable to work due to his constant needs. You all have helped me so much in the past with issues around my adult son’s epilepsy, but I’m out of my league here. Any advice?


    Comment by kim cassidy — March 5, 2010 @ 10:20 AM

  2. Hi Kim,

    When I was poor, I was able to get Social Security help from The Social Security Administration for Supplemental Security Income.

    I had to fight for it. The first try, they turned me down. The second try they turned me down. The third time, I got it. They hope you will give up.

    Even though I am Disabled and cannot work, I am still not eliglible for Social Security Disability. Try for it though, and remember to keep on putting in for it time after time you receive a turn down notice.

    Hi Phylis, I know a lot of people with epilepsy who are artists, poets, etc. Some even make their living on writing, copywriting and selling poems. I started to write poetry a few years back. Some of my poetry is not good, some are liked by many. I have not had any inspiration to write for a while.

    I think it was because your poem was about racism that made your teacher mad. That is an explosive subject. Still is today, sometimes. I would like to see your poem. Will you write it in here? I know it was great.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Ruth Brown — March 5, 2010 @ 2:17 PM

  3. Ruth, you are a font of information and I bet there’s a lot of talent lurking in there, too!

    What others think of your poems is nice…but write them for YOURSELF. Start keeping a poetry diary to get you in the swing of things. Tap into your emotions. Recount experiences that touched you and made you feel bad, glad, or somewhere in between.

    As for my racism poem…heavens Ruth…I wrote it in 5th grade. I can barely remember what happened yesterday!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 5, 2010 @ 9:53 PM

  4. Hi Phylis,

    I keep every single poem that I have written. I keep each one in a plastic cover to protect them. Poetry is emotions. Just what you said is what I write.

    I have just about finished another poem that I have been writing with someone else. It is almost finished. We started a year ago, then he quit e-mailing me back. He finally got in touch with me and we did some more. He has dropped out of e-mail sight again. I am going to finish it on my own now. It is almost finished. He is a fantastic poet, writer and song writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Ruth Brown — March 6, 2010 @ 12:04 AM

  5. As a young boy, I use to write poems about what ever was in my head at the time. Which was usaull scenery of pines, fields trees and the sky. I was always off somewhere in my own little world bcause I prefered being alone,

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by mkfarnam — December 5, 2011 @ 3:37 PM

  6. That’s really cool. It’s like a combination of poetry and visualization.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 5, 2011 @ 5:17 PM

  7. A doctor once asked me, “Have you ever considered that you are better BECAUSE you write?” I thought that was so interesting. I have published a book of poetry about this epilepsy I live with, and am soon to contract for my second book (although it will not be about epilepsy). I NEED to write. I have just told an artist-friend that I have felt I’d like to try painting. My idea is to play with a brush, canvas, paint, and colors in abstract form to “paint seizure.” I also play piano, which I find relaxing, but I started that five years before being diagnosed with epilepsy. The arts seem natural to me, especially writing and piano.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Maggie — June 18, 2014 @ 12:49 PM

    • Maggie, I know your first book was great — I read it, wrote a column and reviewed it on Amazon.

      Can’t wait till the next one. Do you dare to disclose the subject?

      I’m sorry to admit, I’m a one girl band.

      I was born to write, it’s the reason that I get up in the morning and I couldn’t imagine living without writing.

      But I do so envy you, for your MANY assorted talents!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 18, 2014 @ 2:17 PM

  8. When I was blogging I wrote every single day, but since I made my blog private I have had trouble getting my words out. Today, though, for the first time in many months, I wrote two poems, one of which was about epilepsy and one was about writing. I am hoping to continue writing every day.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Maggie Mendus — February 24, 2015 @ 5:37 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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