Epilepsy

Epilepsy In Relationships

“No trial is so large we can’t overcome it together.” Elder Neil L. Andersen

epilepsy-in-relationships

Having a medical condition such as epilepsy, it can have an effect on even the greatest of relationships. The one who is affected may not feel the same way they once did before-hand. And the one who is not affected may not know how to handle the change. The strain could most certainly push the couples’ understanding of “in sickness and in health” to its breaking point.

My husband and I were married in August of 2008. We were beaming with joy, thoughts of our future together. Epilepsy had not yet entered into our lives. In our new home, all I could think about was starting a family and a flower garden. Backyard barbecues, having family and friends over, and holidays. We were preparing to celebrate our very first Christmas together as husband and wife. The morning of December 11, 2008 when my husband went off to work, I snuck out with the hopes to buy birthday and Christmas presents. I never made it to the store. I was met with a grand mal seizure. I was diagnosed with epilepsy not long after.

Did you know that studies show that marriages in which one spouse has a medical condition are more likely to fall apart if the spouses are young? And spouses who are caregivers are six times more likely to be depressed than spouses who do not need to be caregivers? I didn’t know that! We knew straight away when we heard the doctor say the words, “You have epilepsy.” that we were going to get through this together. That no matter what, we were going to stay true to the vows that we spoke at our wedding:

“For better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.”

Even in the greatest marriages, you are going to come across rough patches and challenges. However, it is in those moments that you can choose to learn patience and commitment and strengthen your relationship. You and the one you love can learn to deal with the strain a medical condition like epilepsy can put on your relationship.

How To Keep Your Relationship Rock Solid

1. Talk To One Another –

Relationships can become strained when you don’t sit down and discuss what is on your heart and your mind in which have no apparent or clear solution. If you lack communication, you’re setting yourself up for feelings of distance and a lack of closeness.

The best thing that you could do is speak openly regarding challenges you are up against. You’re taking a great step in the right direction to solving problems. You’re paving the way to excellent teamwork as well!

It’s important to have a great balance of communication. Don’t allow yourselves to be consumed in speaking about the medical condition, however, do leave the door open to talk about it. Essentially, have a middle ground.

 

2. Let The Hot Air Out Of Heated Emotions –

it’s completely normal if you feel down or sad and if you were to have anxiety because of epilepsy. Epilepsy is completely unpredictable! It doesn’t ever announce itself when it arrives like a tornado warning, which only adds to the anxiety.

The best way to handle anxiety is to pin down the root of the worry and find good strategies and resources to deal with it.

Four helpful methods you and the one you love can use to help each other achieve relief from stress:

1. Learn as much as you can about the condition and reach out to helpful/available resources to feel more in control.

2. Find A Good Counselor.  You could consider going together or separately for counseling with a therapist, pastor, or other trained professional.

3. Be on the lookout for signs of depression. Sadness is a normal response to a medical condition or epilepsy. But clinical depression doesn’t have to be.

4. Recognize if you are feeling that your relationship has changed. The both of you are experiencing some form of change. I have epilepsy and am going on 7 years with the condition. It has been nearly 7 years that I have lived with the condition yet, I still every now and again speak of wanting to drive to the store to pick up groceries or run errands so my husband doesn’t have to. My husband, so sweet, understands my desire for wanting to drive and to take the load off of his back and has such a heart of compassion.

A short time ago, we had just recently purchased our brand new car. I was so happy because it was so nice! Though, deep down, I felt pained because I knew I might not know what it would be like to drive this car having epilepsy. So a day came when my husband took me to an empty parking lot and put the car in park. He got out of the car and asked me to hop in the drivers seat. At first, I was a little nervous, but he convinced me! It was awesome to experience the feeling of driving again after so long.

 

3. Make Your Needs Known

If you’re the one with epilepsy, be clear and direct about what it is that you want because your loved one is not a mind reader. Don’t expect him or her to be. Don’t give him or her a hard time.

It’s important to talk to each other about sharing tasks and responsibilities so that there isn’t a sense of feeling like a patient rather than a partner.

Take Care Of Your Loved One

If you are the one taking care of your loved one with epilepsy, you need to pay attention to your own physical and emotional health. If you don’t, you won’t be able to help the one you love.

To cut down on the stress, my husband goes to the gym five days a week and plays his guitar. Physical activity provides an excellent outlet for stress. What other things can cut down on the stress? Confiding in family and friends, asking for help, knowing your limits, and setting realistic goals.

Can Loved Ones Get Burnt Out? Definitely! Be On The Lookout For:

  • Withdrawal from family, friends and other loved ones
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person you are caring for
  • Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Irritability

If you are the person caring for a loved one with epilepsy and are experiencing symptoms like these, it’s important that you to seek help both for your own well-being and to get support in caring for your loved one.

Show Love For One Another

Being diagnosed with epilepsy has without a doubt made our marriage rock solid. We are united, and we will go through this storm together, no matter what we are faced with. It’s important to always remember your love for each other. Remember to show your love for one another.

Refuse to be owned by epilepsy. Refuse to feel helpless. Life is such a beautiful gift given to us by God, and it is so worth living, especially with our very special someone! Do all that you can to turn those lemons into the greatest lemonade ever!

Post your advice! What relationship advice might you have for couples struggling through challenging times?

I am a happily-ever-after wife, an Epilepsy Diagnosee, Advocate for Epilepsy Awareness (The Epilepsy Network), life lover & Christ inspired! Life is a journey and I'm loving every moment of it. Even the bumps in the road!

7 Comments

  • Dawn Ferrier

    Thank you for sharing these tips. I am a woman diagnosed at 43 yo = 1.5 years ago!! I feel so bad that my teenage sons have had to witness my partial complex frontal seizures. Their school began to down and their attitude toward me became more careful and cautious. My husband and I spoke with each of them and then both together to reassure and let them know I appreciate their love and concern.

    But my fantastic husband is carrying so much concern on his shoulders. It doesn’t help that I haven forgotten my morning dose of Keppra and had breakthrough seizures! His sleep is horrible and he texting me often to check up/in on me. Poor guy. I love and appreciate him so much. We talk all the time about how we are doing and feeling.

    He took on the role of caregiver without hesitation. It was a very long process of diagnosis. From May 2012 to December 2013. He constantly reminds me that I’ve given him each and every gray hair on his head!!

    I do believe everything happens for a reason and my outspokenness about my diagnosis and awareness has lead people to come to me for support. That’s it — I’m convinced.

    So thank you for inspiring me and supporting me.

  • Debby Heinz

    I already had Epilepsy when I met my husband. He was absolutely fantastic about it. You are right, it creates an extra strong special bond.

  • Heidi Winkler

    I’d had petit mal seizures for four years before meeting Clayton. On our third date I broke the news to him, expecting him to possibly walk out the door. However, he simply shrugged and asked questions because he’s so excited to always learn about anything and everything. He sometimes has migraine headaches which made the conversation topic at least a hair easier.

    I’m very fortunate, as he’s such an incredible husband. Thank you again for such a great post!

  • Karla Dircio

    I have been with my husband for about 11 years now & married for 4 years. We have had our ups and downs in our relationship like every other couple out there. It wasnt until Dec. 30th right before a new years trip we had planned I had my first seizure ever. It was then when i realized just how much he cared for me. He has taken so much responsability and takes such good care of me. I only feel safe when he is around. We get along now more than ever and we have amazing communication. We have grown closer together and our marriage is alot stronger. He is amazing and manages to go to work and school full time and still have the energy to come home and care for me. My biggest concern however; is for him to get burnt out. He is not showing any signs of that ever happening but it is still a fear I have and I am sure alot of us who are in a relationship and have epilepsy have the same fear.

  • Rebecca

    I have been diagnosed with all the seizures out there and still my fiancé has been with me for four years were getting married and I think that is the biggest miracle of all

  • Tiffany Andrews

    I’ve had epilepsy since I was eight years old. Being in relationships have been really hard for me. I have read all of your stories and I am happy for all of you but I am a little jealous. I just wish my boyfriend was as understanding as the spouses you have are. I hate that I have had seizures in front of him. I try not to blame myself all the time but I can’t help it. I felt even worse when I had one in front of our daughter. I guess what I am trying to say is how do I go about easing my boyfriend’s mind without constantly blaming myself. I feel like such a bad parent and person.

    • Tiffany Kairos

      Hi Tiffany –
      You don’t have to apologize for your seizures. You are not in control of what happens. It is in your life and the most important thing to hold onto is, that it doesn’t own your life. Conversation. Have a sit-down conversation with your boyfriend and be open and honest. Share with him your concerns and allow him to know that even though this condition is in your life, it doesn’t and won’t dictate the manner in which you will live. Don’t allow this condition to rob you of your joy. You are not a bad parent or person at all. Epilepsy is a bad condition and a bully. You are a strong person. And an overcomer. Repeat this to yourself consistently. 🙂

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