Seizure Writing Guide!
****This is the seizure anon. I apologize for the wait, I was really excited to share what I knew with you, but then I realized that not only did I write way more than I expected, but I also added comments based on that story you wrote that are denoted with an asterisk at the beginning and end of each comment. I figured you could probably take them out before you actually post it because the notes are explicitly to you. If there’s any way to keep my screen name from posting with the submission that would be awesome because I’m not ready to be “outed” in the community just yet, but if it’s too difficult that’s okay (I’m only 16 and a senior in high school).
So the entire reason why I know anything about what a seizure feels like is because I have grand mal and juvenile absence epilepsy. I had my first grand mal seizure when I was 11, although my neurologist suspected that I had been having absence seizures since age 8. As I went along with my treatment, things started going awry and I developed narcolepsy with cataplexy and a slew of other problems.
Even though I’ll eventually grow out of the epilepsy, I will struggle with severe narcolepsy for the rest of my life. It has robbed me of all control over my sleep wake cycle and made my life touch and go ever since. Lately, I’ve been experiencing a flare-up, something that makes my condition much worse. They occur when I’m stressed or sick, mainly because my narcolepsy is auto immune (which is why, in my opinion, it would make good fic material, but that doesn’t concern this rn). I’ve been battling fatigue all week, and I’m sorry submitting it just slipped my mind. If you want to know more about it, talking about it helps and I can take questions. (After all, you know who I am now.)
So, once again, sorry for the wait. Guide begins below the hash mark, don’t forget to take out the asterisk paragraphs before you post. ****
This is a guide to writing seizures! If you have any knowledge/experience to add, or perhaps if I misrepresented something feel free to add your thoughts as this is for the community as a whole to use!
A seizure is an excess firing of the neurons in the brain. This misfiring can be generalized (affecting both sides of the brain) or focal (affects one side of the brain, a specific area of the brain, etc). Of the focal onset seizures, there are two sub categories, simple partial (person is fully/mostly aware) and complex partial (some changes in levels of consciousness).
Generalized onset seizures normally produce the more obvious/well known symptoms of a seizure, whereas focal onset seizures can have some pretty weird symptoms.
The categories and seizure types that fit into them are as follows:
- Convulsive (myoclonic, clonic, tonic, tonic-clonic, atonic)
- Non-convulsive (absence-typical/atypical)
Simple Partial (4 categories)
- w/motor symptoms
* convulsive/jerking motions, unusual head or eye movements, numbness, tingling, a crawling feeling on your skin, etc.
- w/sensory symptoms
* feeling weird pressure or warmth, seeing/hearing/smelling/tasting weird things
- w/autonomic symptoms (autonomic = things that the body regulates automatically, like temperature)
* usually things like sweating, stomach churning, nausea, unexplained sense of fear, etc.
- w/psychic symptoms
* warped time perception, dysmnesic (deja-vu sense), strong feelings of fear, illusion, hallucinations, difficulty or discomfort swallowing
- simple partial onset then impaired consciousness
- impaired consciousness at onset
simple partial evolving into second generalized
Types of Seizures
Grand Mal (Tonic-Clonic) Seizures
This is the main type, normally consisting of 4 stages; aura, tonic, clonic, and aftermath. Common triggers include the presence of epilepsy, flashing lights, fever, and head trauma. The victim needs to be monitored during each of the four stages to ensure safety. It is also important to note that any grand mal seizure lasting more than 5 minutes can result in permanent brain damage.
From the victim’s perspective, they may/may not know what is going on depending on whether or not they’ve had a seizure before. Many epileptics are able to tell when they are about to have a seizure based on how their aura phase presents itself. The most common forms are seeing/hearing/smelling/tasting/feeling things that aren’t there. For example, smelling something burning, a metallic taste in the mouth, or possibly even strong feelings of deja vu/turning of he stomach. For non-epileptics and people having their first seizure, it may present as just a feeling of uneasiness and slight drowsiness. It depends on what area(s) of the brain is/are affected.
After the aura, the tonic phase hits and the victim loses consciousness as the body stiffens, lasting 10-25 seconds for the average person. Then the clonic phase hits and the body convulses for an average of 30-50 seconds. The clonic phase is probably the most dangerous part of the seizure because of the possibility of injury. The most important thing to remember is that you have to get the person in a position where they cannot his their head on anything, and you should NEVER try to restrain them while they’re convulsing. It can cause a lot more damage if you try and restrain them than if you just let it take its course.
The aftermath can consist of anything from nausea to a fog-like confusion, and the victim should never be left alone until the stage is completed and the person has regained consciousness and functions normally. It is not uncommon for the victim to forget their name, nor is it for the victim to forget where they are.
Morning of my first seizure I felt abnormally drowsy and I had a mild headache, but I waved it off as the result of staying up late too many nights in a row. So I went to school anyway and made it two hours into my day when suddenly I began to feel extremely heavy, like a lead blanket had been placed over me. I put my head down on my desk, but I kind of knew that I wasn’t falling asleep; it was a different feel. I woke up in the hospital, thoroughly confused, disoriented, and slightly weak. I had woken up in the ambulance, but apparently I couldn’t remember my own name. It took me about 2 days to really recover, but only about a half an hour to an hour to become mostly aware.
Petit Mal (Absence) Seizures
This is about as close to unconsciousness without actually being unconscious. Can be caused by flashing lights and hyperventilation, but they are normally unprovoked.
Characterized by a blank stare, they are well described by the phrase “time traveling” because you have no clue what goes on during them. It’s like one minute you’re there and then a second passes and you realize a minute passed and you can’t remember what you were doing before. It’s not painful, just really annoying and confusing. They last 30 seconds on average, but can last longer.
Given the elusive nature of absence seizures, it’s pretty unlikely that a quick trip to Web MD would be able to diagnose this. Petit mal seizures are extremely hard to diagnose, especially without an EEG (stands for electroencephalogram, which is a machine that measures brain waves through electrodes applied to the patient’s head). They usually cannot occur in rapid succession, but having multiple absence seizures in a day is possible.
****That is precisely why I liked your story so much! Yes, the “cloud” would be more of an aura phase because you usually can’t tell when they’re going to happen, but as the seizure are a result of possible brain damage it totally works. It was an inventive way to approach it, and I liked the idea. It just makes sense for him because he can’t control how often/intense the ‘glitching’ is.****
Other, More Obscure Types of Seizures
Seizure where the body goes rigid. Usually happens during sleep, but can occur when awake. Generally lasts for 20 seconds or less, minimal changes in consciousness. Can happen to any age group.
Seizure where the body convulses in specific areas or full body. Usually only found in newborns/infants.
Nicknamed “drop seizures”, it’s a sudden loss of muscle tone either in certain areas of the body or throughout the whole body. Normally lasts less than 15 seconds and person is conscious.
To the person experiencing the episode, it’s terrifying when to have the first one because there you are, going about your daily life and then BOOM you’re on the floor and can’t move. You want to move, but even if you will yourself to move with every fiber of your being, you can’t. Then, when you can move, you may realize you broke something on the way down, or maybe you lost consciousness because you hit the corner of a table on the way down. They are very dangerous, and many people (especially children) who experience uncontrolled atonic seizures are recommended to wear helmets to reduce the risk of injury during a sudden attack.
****I haven’t had an atonic seizure before, but I have had something very, very similar called a cataplexy attack. They SUCK. I developed severe narcolepsy w/cataplexy as a result of having abnormal neural activity (epilepsy), and my first cataplexy attack was TERRIFYING. I was standing up and laughing at something, next thing I know I’m on the ground in excruciating pain because I lost control of my muscles, landed wrong, and broke my tailbone. I was conscious the whole time but I couldn’t move for a good 20 seconds, was in extreme pain, and actually thought I broke my spine (I was 13). I wouldn’t be surprised is something like this happened during an atomic seizure. The important thing to note is that cataplexy attacks are triggered by emotions, whereas atonic seizures cannot be triggered by anything.****
These are seizures that are shown through rapid jerking of the extremities. It’s like severe flinching, or like when a chill runs down your back, and it’s completely involuntary. They can occur at any stage in life.
****I can see the most potential in this for writing purposes because when I had them, I would think ‘ey I’m glitching’ and I can see Jeremy and Michael freaking out over something like this. For me it usually didn’t feel like anything, but when it happened with my eyelids it was really weird (my eyelids would twitch and it Mede it hard to pay attention and sometimes got uncomfortable). It’s like muscle spasms, but without pain.****
Not going to lie, almost forgot to add this to the list. Wasn’t sure where to put it, so naturally I just tacked it on to the end. So, febrile seizures are seizure that are triggered by fever. It mainly happens with newborns/small children, and it’s pretty much just convulsions.
Hope you enjoyed, feel free to add things!