Epilepsy Talk

Some Stress and Anxiety Solutions… | March 21, 2020

Sometimes my hands shake so much, I look like I’m leading a symphony. (Without a baton.) Legs too, I have to sit down.

Maybe you panic before a test, the very fear of having a seizure, social rejection, job anxieties, debt, fear of failure, an anticipated argument, holidays, fear of flying.

There are probably as many kinds of stress and panic attacks as there are those of us who suffer from them.

And behaviors: trembling, sweating, hyperventilating, breathlessness, feeling faint or light-headed, a sense of disorientation, cramping, nausea, your heart pounding like it’s going to explode from your chest, a fear of dying.

Or you’re just plain scared.

I could go on forever. And I’m sure you could, too.

It might be because your serotonin level is low, you’re feeling a sense of “fight or flight.”

But anxiety is actually related to epilepsy in more specific ways.

It can occur not only as a reaction, but also as a symptom and in some cases, as a side-effect of seizure medicines.

In some cases, stress and panic attacks have been misdiagnosed as epilepsy, and epilepsy has even been misdiagnosed as panic attacks!

For example, hyperventilation caused by anxiety can trigger a convulsion, which can further complicate the diagnosis.

A person can have a panic attack which may eventually turn to a seizure, or that seizure may be the result of stress.

The worst part is that neither just “goes away.”

But happily, there are some solutions…

1. Deep breathing. I breath in through my nostrils with pursed lips from the diaphragm. (Note: ribs rise as opposed to tummy.) Then exhale twice as long as inhaling. Ten times in a row is best. Or you can try more if you’re feeling really tense. If you’re having trouble relaxing before you go to bed, try 3-5 times. I try to make it a habit. The beauty of this is that you can do it any time, any where, and as long as you need to, until that nasty panic goes away.

2. Visualization. I think of a particular happy experience (or two) and sort of let it take over my body. Like watching the waves crash. Or eating a lobster roll in Maine.

3. Music. I take 30 minutes that’s just mine, get in a comfy chair, put on headphones and forget about the rest of the stuff. It’s so relaxing that sometimes I feel like I’m transported to another place. Away from my fears.

4. Walking a few miles or so, taking in my surroundings. Sometimes it’s the trees, a bird flying by, a beautiful sunset. Or maybe watching other people (I admit it, I’m an incurable people watcher), cloud formations. Whatever presents itself before me. Being in the moment.

5. I do run an epilepsy support group. (You could join one or start your own.) It’s helpful to hear other people’s fears and concerns and try to help each other. There’s a feeling of accomplishment, community, sharing and of course, making new friends. After all, aren’t we all in this together?

6. I try to do something new that’s creative. (Obviously, after 30+ years, it’s not writing.) Right now, I’m trying to learn more about my camera, so I can take some real pictures, other than just of my cat.

7. There’s meds (yup, that too) and cognitive therapy (which has done a world of good for me).

I’d love to be able to meditate, but I just don’t have the attention span. Try deep muscle relaxation, but who has the time?

Or finally, confront my fears and think of what’s the worst thing that could happen?

Maybe some day. Soon.


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  1. Me too 😘


    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 21, 2020 @ 2:38 PM

  2. I just work as hard as I could all day that way when it’s time to sit and eat supper, shower and go to be I immediately fall asleep!! I just find it a bit harder recently because I DO GET TIRED FASTER AND JUST WANT TO SLEEP MORE!!!!!!! Or make myself go into OVERDRIVE!! And just forget about it lol 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 21, 2020 @ 2:41 PM

  3. Diversion is a good thing. An antidote for pain or panic.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 21, 2020 @ 2:44 PM

  4. Adding the frightening global storm, declarations of national emergencies, medical alerts, travel bans, locked down cities, public & personal concern, panic & hysteria over the widespread of Corona virus making it difficult to visit doctors, hospitals & pharmacies to control the everyday struggle against epileptic seizures is certainly becoming unusually more stressful, requiring persistent vigilance & resilient determination to avoid anxiety by any means necessary.
    The days of social association for company, excitement & pleasure coming to an end due to the spread of Corona virus, having more time for myself to carry out consistent physical & mental exercises at home, digging & discovering old books, films, pictures & joyful memories around the house has made it instrumental tool to curb the dread of stress & anxiety for me.
    Shoving aside the rat race to catch up with the endless demands of modern times at least for a while, preoccupied with physical activity & going back to the good old days with beautiful memories has brought more joyful tears to me, becoming very rewarding tool to avoid the stress & anxiety that has been triggering my grandmal seizures for a long time.
    It’s just great to feel, I’m still alive again.
    Best wishes to all.


    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by BahreNegash Eritrea — March 21, 2020 @ 5:11 PM

  5. All my admiration to Phylis and all of you as well!! My son received a call tonight to go back to his workplace in northern Alberta on Monday because he’s an “ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEE”!! I must admit this the FIRST TIME I EVER WANT TO BEG MY CHILD TO PLEASE STAY HOME!!!!!!! I felt like that last week when my husband when my husband also got called back into work as an “ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEE” as well!!!!! I kept myself DOG BUSY ALL DAY PRAYING I WOULD BE DOG TIRED NOW!!!!!!! When in fact I feel as though I’m sweating more now then I was earlier!! I have aunties and his grandma and friends call me ALL DAY about him and what’s going to happen to my husband and son? The “FIGHT OR FLIGHT” or plain old “NUMBNESS” seems to be taking my heart in a different direction (my watch keeps telling me to “BREATH”) because it’s beating slower and slower now. I think my husband and children may think either “I’M CRAZY” or “I AM PANICKING” they can’t tell!! Funny thing is RIGHT NOW NEITHER CAN I!!!!!!! I physically worked ALL DAY, built shelves in my basement, and ARGUED ALL DAY WITH CREATOR/GOD/MY GRANDMA AND OLD PEOPLE!!!!!!! But this time around I just have to get ready to drive my son back to the airport tomorrow. Funny how I never ever had a problem being home along all day before UNTIL NOW WITH MY HUSBAND AND CHILDREN!!!!!!! Lol MY OLDEST IS DRIVING ME CRAZY NOW!! Lmao 😂 I told my husband “do you think we can just build her a hut outside PRETTY PLEASE 🙏🏼?” He just laughed at me!! 😂😂😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 21, 2020 @ 10:32 PM

    • It must be terribly difficult for you, but think how noble it is of them.

      You raised a fabulous family. Now you just have to believe in them and support them as best you can.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 22, 2020 @ 9:54 AM

  6. Well we took my son back yesterday. I have to tell you THERE IS NO WORD THAT CAN EXPRESS THE FEAR!!!!!!! I understand “SOCIAL DISTANCING”, however people have to understand I just my flesh and blood I PRAYED TO HAVE into a place where IF THERE REST OF THE WORLD CAN GO WITHOUT OIL/GAS RIGS NOBODY WAS GOING TO STOP ME FROM GIVING MY ONLY AND OLDEST CHILD A KISS AND A HUG!!!!!!! 🙏🏼🦅😇❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 23, 2020 @ 8:23 PM

  7. Sorry I meant “I just sent my flesh and blood”


    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 23, 2020 @ 8:25 PM

  8. That’s the first time I actually had to take ativan to help me NOT HAVE THE SEIZURE I KNEW WAS COMING!! And the first time I ever told a police office “cuff me if you want to!! But as his mom I am ENTITLED TO GIVE HIM ONE KISS AND A HUG AND TEL HIM I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!”

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 23, 2020 @ 8:27 PM

  9. BTW the police officer never cuffed me!! Instead he asked me if he can please cry for me?! I told him “IF I CAN’T CRY NEITHER CAN YOU!!” And thanked him not for charging or throwing me in jail 😘

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 23, 2020 @ 8:29 PM

  10. I apologize I meant to say “my oldest child and only son”!! He just phoned me tonight and tried to VERY CALMLY tell me “Mom I guess I have to stay for 2 weeks instead of one”. I never wanted to ask him “Howcome all of a sudden it’s 2 weeks instead of one?!”, so I didn’t. All I could say to him was “Okay Son, but can you please FaceTime me EVERY NIGHT JUST SO I CAN SEE YOU??🙏🏼🦅😇❤️”. He agreed and then said “I’m okay mom I PROMISE!! Now PLEASE SLOW YOUR HEART DOWN FOR ME!!”. 🙏🏼🦅😇❤️. Honestly I was afraid to ask why 2 weeks? So I didn’t. Lol but I’ve never quickly looked at a map and tried to figure out how long it would take to drive straight across the province at once!! BTW It’s one full tank of gas 😘

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 23, 2020 @ 11:54 PM

    • The FaceTime suggestion is brilliant.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 24, 2020 @ 12:00 AM

      • Well if I can’t hug him at least I’ll be able to see him 🙏🏼🦅❤️😇😘

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — March 24, 2020 @ 12:01 AM

      • My grandparents and grandma used to tell me “as long as I’m alive (or not) and you are and you have babies and your babies have babies I WILL ALWAYS BE HERE BECAUSE YOU ARE ALL PART OF ME!! 🙏🏼😇💗🦅”. Now that applies to me and my babies regardless of their age!!

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — March 25, 2020 @ 12:53 AM

      • One time I had to jump off of my vehicle and help another woman (who was having a seizure) on my main street sidewalk because everyone was scared and didn’t know how to help her. After (once the paramedics arrived) I got back in my vehicle my husband kissed me and said to me “I had to do that because if she has anything you’ll get it and I am not going to let get sick without me!!”. My son made me remember that the last time he came home. Because he was afraid to come near me for fear he maybe carrying that virus on him from his workplace. I sat there watching him try to tell me at my doorway (without him crying) and my husbands words came back to me. So finally I told my son “come here. At least if you get sick I get sick with you and your not alone!! 😘”. Next thing my husband came in and laid down with us and hugged us and said what he said in the past to me. Funny how my daughter followed him and then my cat and dogs!! Lol 😂 I VERY QUICKLY FOUND OUT I can fit another queen size air mattress in my bedroom lol. And NOW I AM THE SMALLEST PERSON IN MY HOUSE!! Lol 😂. BTW I NEVER SLEPT!! Because all I wanted to do was enjoy hearing them all SNORE OR BREATH!! 🙏🏼🦅😇💝

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — March 25, 2020 @ 1:05 AM

  11. Didn’t there use to be a “search” button on this site to let us search through old posts? I’m not finding it.

    Or maybe it’s a memory problem.

    Hoping you all are well.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by HoDo — March 24, 2020 @ 1:35 PM

  12. HoDo, go back to the home page and you should see the search bar.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 24, 2020 @ 1:45 PM

    • Hmmm, yes, there it is. Thanks. Stress at work.

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by HoDo — March 24, 2020 @ 1:51 PM

  13. I can’t find the homepage I’m sorry. I think I’m still In “BRAIN FOG”. I can’t tell if it’s “CRAZINESS” because my husband and daughters are home 24/7 (except for my husband) or if it’s the “WORRY MOMMY” thing just PRAYING I’LL GET AN “I LOVE YOU MOM” text from my son!! Funny how I can actually come out and tell my daughter “DID YOU EVER LEARN ABOUT INTEGERS IN MATH??!!!!!!!” And then VERY QUICKLY RE-TEACH THEM!! Lol 😂 and you think I could ACTUALLY HANDLE BEING STUCK WITH THEM 24/7!!!!!!! WHAT WAS I THINKING?! 😳😳😳😳😳

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 25, 2020 @ 12:23 AM

  14. Lol as I STICK MYSELF in my basement building MUCH NEEDED SHELVES (of course with my headphones on) all I could say to my husband in the next room is “IF YOU LOVE ME YOU WILL LOCK THAT UPSTAIRS DOOR?! And you can build ALL THE COMPUTERS IN THE WORLD in the next room while I measure wood to saw it and find a leveller, screws and measure my posts and 2×4’s 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 25, 2020 @ 12:31 AM

  15. For quite a different health issue, my doctor recommended that I use an oximeter. This is a gadget you stick on your finger that tells you how much oxygen is in your blood. It’s also wonderful for helping me breathe deeply and regularly.

    You don’t wear it continuously, but even a minute’s worth slows me down, helps deepen my breaths, and centers me, because I can see the figures. (Mine also displays pulse rate.)

    They are available at a drugstore starting at around $15.00. I bought mine at a medical supply place because I have sensory issues and needed to try it on for feel. That one cost more. It’s been a good investment as far as anxiety and calming down goes.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by HoDo — March 25, 2020 @ 11:41 AM

    • Hi HoDo I hope and pray all is well with you. Funny this watch does that too!! I guess it’s just that it seems to be making breath A LOT LATELY!! And I realized it also vibrates a lot as well!!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Kathy S.B — March 27, 2020 @ 1:02 AM

  16. It could be good in monitoring anyone’s oxygen flow, especially in light of the Coronavirus and the lack of oxygen being a primary problem.

    Do you agree HoDo?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 25, 2020 @ 1:03 PM

    • Probably a falling number would indicate some kind of problem, yes.

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by HoDo — March 25, 2020 @ 1:16 PM

      • More on using an oxygen monitor and breathing to relieve stress:

        I’m finding that if I think in words while breathing (for example, “You must relax,” or “This isn’t working,”) that my pulse rate stays high and the oxygen rate, lower.

        If, however, I set my mind to picture a favorite walk or a beloved pet, the pulse rate eases and the oxygen rate rises. This is true whether the wordy mantra is negative or positive.

        Also, for those who find sitting meditation a problem, walking meditation can work well.

        Hoping this finds you all well.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by HoDo — April 19, 2020 @ 11:57 AM

      • Visualization works well for me, too…either walking or staying still.

        I take myself back to one of my favorite moments

        (in this case, riding through the fields of Yellowstone),

        and then, concentrate on that, with breathing exercises as well.

        That seems to calm me down.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 19, 2020 @ 12:17 PM

      • On an actual horse? Oh, blissful! Not that I’ve ever ridden a horse successfully, but the spaciousness together with a big, warm animal must have been extraordinarily peaceful.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by HoDo — April 19, 2020 @ 12:54 PM

      • It was one of the freest and most beautiful moments in my life.

        I try to keep that memory in my back pocket, so I can go back there in troubled times.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 19, 2020 @ 12:59 PM

    • Hope this finds you all well.

      I’m learning, using the oxygen monitor, that sometimes I’m acting breathing but not really inhaling deeply. What a useful gadget it is when it displays this.

      Breathing deeply and well is done by breathing attentively and with care. Also a few yawns reset my system so that the numbers are more in the normal range.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by HoDo — April 2, 2020 @ 8:22 AM

  17. For those needing virus info in other than English,

    Hesperian Health Guides has created a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fact Sheet to share essential information about how the virus infects and spreads, who is most likely to be infected, and how to prevent infection. The fact sheet is available in 18 languages! Here is the full list: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Urdu, Bangla, Filipino, Bahasa Indonesia, Farsi, Sindhi, Telugu, Hindi, Portuguese, Chichewa, Swahili, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, and Arabic. We encourage you to share Hesperian’s fact sheet widely to ensure that everyone, everywhere has the critical information to protect their health.

    This information is free and easily downloaded.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by HoDo — March 25, 2020 @ 1:19 PM

  18. Correction to list of translations: Chishona not Chichewa


    Comment by HoDo — March 25, 2020 @ 1:21 PM

  19. I think Maybe that’s my body way of trying to protect me somehow. Lol it’s funny because I was just raised to NOT RECORD OR WRITE ANYTHING DOWN EVER!! So now (there is BlackFoot Dictionary’s), but I even have a hard time trying to read it!! I guess in certain ways I am still “OLD SCHOOL”

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 27, 2020 @ 1:06 AM

    • Old school doesn’t mean you shouldn’t record your seizures or symptoms so you have a better idea of what’s going on.

      That goes for triggers and auras, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 27, 2020 @ 10:33 AM

      • Yes your right. I’m starting to think it’s fear of the unknown and trying not to be scared or worried for MOSTLY my husband, son and brother inlaw (who my husband and I raised).

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — March 27, 2020 @ 3:35 PM

  20. Funny how as wives/moms/daughters/and friends as much as we try to keep busy we still can’t help but be worried for eachother.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 27, 2020 @ 3:38 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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