How it all started
Just a brief re-cap on my previous article ‘keep pushing‘, I was diagnosed with Epilepsy at the age of 16, with an unknown cause. I was at the age when I thought my life was going so great, starting a new high school, making new friends, ready to get my drivers license and all of the other wonderful and exciting things we look forward to as teenagers. In the blink of an eye, my whole life changed, i had a new mindset, things that were easy for me before, were now a challenge. I was diagnosed with epilepsy and there was no answer as to why this suddenly happened to me, with no previous head injuries, no health issues that could possibly lead to such thing, no family history of the disorder. Seizures were frequent for the first few years, medication was now part of my daily routine four times a day, and life as a happy full of life teenager, seemed to be going down hill. Many challenges throughout the years as a result or indirect result of this seizure disorder.
It was very hard to get a anti-convulsant medication that worked well with me. I was informed initially that alot of it would be trial and error until they found a medication that worked well to calm down the frequency of the seizures I was having. Some medications, caused me allergic reactions that lead me to the hospital emergency rooms, some were too strong for me and causing my seizure activity to increase, others were making me very tired and fatigue, weak and so on. I couldn’t seem to find the right medication solution to help me live as normal as possible as I was before being diagnosed. it was getting to the point where I decide which side effect could I live with on a long term basis. The truth of the matter was that each medication had a side[/b[b]effect that you were going to have to deal with. So do i want to be dizzy, drowsy, fatigue, constipated or have diarrhea, do I want to have possible tremors and lose some coordination in my body, have weakened enamel on my teeth, the list goes on and on.
I guess this would be a good time to tell you that with most anti convulsant medications you gain weight, and with very few you start to lose weight.
Finally, I found a medication that was working to reduce my seizure activity. After several months, of frequent seizures, running back and forth to the hospital, missing school, missing hanging out with friends, and being on guard all the time wondering when the next episode would come, it didn’t matter to me, what the side effects of this new medication would be. It did what it was suppose to do, reduce the amount of seizures I was having.
While being good in that area, the side effects including, abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, dizziness, drowsiness, anemia, nausea, brain fog (for lack of a better word) etc. I experienced the majority of them over and over again.
The pain and suffering
Here I was just a young teenage girls, just wanting to enjoy life the way my friends were. I didn’t want to have to take medication four times a day, I didn’t want to have to miss out on life, but I had to do what was best for me to get healthy.
I was an average weight teenager, not heavy not thin. I was always looking to lose a few pounds before i started battling the epilepsy. I would walk, run, lift weights, play sports, just the regular things we do to try to stay healthy.
After a week or so of taking the medication, I was experiencing the side effects, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, appetite loss etc. I was trying to eat, but often the smell of food would make me sick, sometimes i would have to go in my bedroom and close the door while food was being cooked, because it upset my stomach so much. The abdominal pain was bad, it had me bent over walking like I was a woman in my 90’s. Spoke to the doctor about all of this several times, but he was convinced that all of this was much better than the seizure activity and we were running out of options as far as medication to stabilize my condition went.
As time started to go by, I started to take all of this as a new way of life, and just deal with it. I was at the point where I was mostly drinking fluids and eating a few crackers or a piece of toast to take my medication. That was all I was able to handle on some days, I could feel my legs getting weak and my body getting very tired. People were starting to notice that I was losing weight.
They noticed I lost weight…thats great…lets try to lose JUST a little more
I didn’t notice the weight loss until people mainly my friends were noticing it when they would stop by to see me. It wasn’t a lot of weight only about 6-8 lbs but it was noticeable and they were complimenting me on my weight loss and telling me how good I looked. Although I was feeling terrible and wasn’t able to eat, I was enjoying hearing these things.
It wasn’t long after that I found myself attempting less and less to eat, without really thinking about it at first. I started weighing myself everyday, and measuring my body. After all, i had nothing much else to do other than watch tv, since I wasn’t well enough to go to school at that time.
Some days i would see the scales go down, other days they would go up, the fluctuation was starting to drive me crazy. Why couldn’t my weight just constantly go down?????? Now I have to figure out how to make that happen on a more consistent basis. I started doing some exercises in my room, I even started to drink less. Now that I was starting to exercise, i was starting to get hungry from burning up calories. I started to eat a little more during the day. This was starting to make the side effects of the medication kick in even worse. I was now eating more, almost immediately it would make me nauseous, and soon after everything I ate would come up.
This whole process was starting to bother me, why oh why couldn’t I live a normal teenage life, why does everything have to be so difficult, I still continued to weigh myself, dreading to get on the scales because i knew that I’ve been eating more. The numbers went down! How could this be when I’m starting to eat more. I forgot that although i was eating, my food was making me sick and I was vomiting it all up each time I ate.
i started to obsess over this new found way of eating, it got to the point that I would make myself vomit as soon as the last bite of food was gone. I was exercising like crazy, but in secret, because I was sick, and I was weak, and I knew that I shouldn’t be doing that right now. I was advised not to until my health become better.
The pounds were falling off, I couldn’t stop smiling!!! I began to chart my progress, set goals of how much i wanted to lose each week, and how could i lose it faster. I was taking measurements of almost every inch of my body. I was now down another 8 lbs …15lbs in total. I felt like I was finally in control of my life, but my body was so weak and so tired, i knew i was starting to over do it.
My sleeping patterns were getting thrown off. i would wake up in the middle of the night and when I couldn’t fall back to sleep right away, my mind started thinking about how I’m going to go about losing that next pound or two by the end of the week. Some nights i would get out of bed and lay on the floor and so sit ups
I was obsessing so much over losing weight and trying to get thinner, that for a while i forgot about my seizure disorder….This should be a good thing right, because after all i didn’t want it to take over my life anymore, I wanted to live a normal teenage life.
All of the attempts to lose weight made me lose sight on taking care of myself. I was taking my medication which has to be taken with meals, but what good is the medication if I’m throwing up my pills with each meal.
i started having some seizures again, which lowered my spirits, some times I wouldn’t need to go to the hospital, other times I would. When i did go to the hospital and they ran tests, and did my blood work, and all of that routine stuff. I was accused and lectured on not taking my medication properly because my levels were low, I was also anemic and dehydrated.
Thankfully, my mom was there with me,because i didn’t know what to say so she could tell the doctor that i am taking my medication but she has been getting nauseous and is sometimes vomiting The doctor explained that, it was common for that to happen with the medication I was on and that when that happens to take another pill, if I can see the whole pill coming up. He also suggested I take gravol to help with the nausea. They replenished my fluids via intravenous and sent me on my way.
I was weak, sore and very tired from the seizure episode. It held me back a few days from my mission of losing weight, my way of controlling my life, when everything else in my life seemed like it was out of my hands. I found something that i was able to do, something that I could now that I had trouble doing before, which was losing weight successfully and continuously.
After a while my weight was getting to an unhealthy point, but yet I was happy about that. My seizure activity has now increased again, and I didnt contribute it to what I was doing with losing weight. I just figured i have a seizure disorder and this is going to happen. I didnt realize that diet and exercise and dehydration and lack of sleep and all of those things are major triggers for a seizure. I had no clue that weight fluctuations and things of that nature could be a factor. After all I was only 16 going on 17 soon.
I may have felt like garbage, health wise, but I was losing weight and mentally feeling great about that. I was reaching the goals I set for myself in my daily journal. Although my mom and family members were getting concerned about my weight loss I was getting compliments from my friends still.
It never once crossed the minds of my family members that I was battling an eating disorder, that I thought I was in control of my life, when in fact i lost all control. Deep down I knew what I was doing but now I couldn’t stop, I was in too deep. i tried several times to eat but after doing it so long, I automatically became nauseous when I put food in my body. After a while, I didn’t know if it was the effects of the medication or if it was just because my body had become used to getting rid of my food as soon as I ate.
I used and abused several different methods to keep my weight under control. When I started going back to school it became more difficult to maintain these activities because there was too many watchful eyes. Some people would joke and ask me if I was anorexic, I always denied it, after all I had my other health issues to use as a cover up. When i became stressed about things the issue would worsen.
Things have got better for me over the past 3 or 4 years, I have managed to eat normally, and when I keep myself busy, I forget that I ate what I ate and that’s a good thing in this case. My weight continues to fluctuate, and still from time to time, I battle the issue, unfortunately, I wasn’t brave enough to seek help about the situation, until about a year ago, but better late than never. To this day, my family is unaware of what I was going through for so long. It’s not at all that they were ignorant to the fact, it was more of the fact that i had a good excuse to be nauseated and vomiting and losing weight. After all it is a side effect to my medication. I am at a healthy weight now, for my height. I am able to recognize when i start to get into that mode of wanting to lose weight and obsessing over it. i am able to get myself out of the rut, before it gets out of control. I’m learning that it is going to be a constant battle, to actually keep myself in control in a healthy manner. i am pleased to announce that I have been one year seizure free and that my life is getting better day by day. I am staying positive and keeping focused, taking things one day at a time, because any further than that, you start to lose your balance.
If you or someone you love are battling an eating disorder or anything else that is damaging your life, i urge you to seek help. Don’t wait several years like I did, get the help you need and deserve to live a happy healthy life.