Online Christian Counseling and Opinion

Archive for the ‘Christian Psychology’ Category

Video

Epilepsy described

A short video describing epilepsy and prevention

Not even considered

Symptoms often overlooked as epilepsy related

Being involved with literally hundreds of epileptics in epilepsy support groups, I’m amazed at those recently diagnosed as epileptics who had started out with simple illness symptoms that most of us wouldn’t consider as having anything to do with epilepsy; at least on their own.

The problem arises when over time and normal medical treatment by your General Practitioner these symptoms remain or even seem to increase.

Unfortunately, the GP prescribes a few tests which come back normal or maybe he or she gives you a Rx for a med that eliminates the problem but over time actually triggers other symptoms or even a seizure.

The attached drawing is an admittedly somewhat controversial drawing of many of the associated illnesses or symptoms of epilepsy. However, if you experience any of these, especially together, you should inform your doctor or neurologist immediately.

Any one of these illnesses can be signs of an impending seizure or related to an aura.

We all have these symptoms from time to time and as such the reason many consider this as controversial, but my experience has shown most epileptics have had these associated illnesses at one time.

I hope this drawing will help you better understand yourself as an epileptic or the epileptic in your life.

May God keep us all seizure free.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

Epileptics be ware

Since many of us participate in various support groups for epilepsy as a means of strength and encouragement we are so excited to find others like ourselves with the same needs and concerns that we don’t give a second thought to the lurking danger of posting and sharing those feelings on line with others in the group.

This past week as I suddenly found my counseling articles on epilepsy being denied posting on Facebook even in a private and closed personal group, I became aware that Facebook has access to all the private conversations posted even in private, closed groups.

It seems that although the general public does not have access to these so called closed groups (which actually aren’t closed at all) Facebook can and does read everything.
The end result is that anything you post about your epilepsy condition or that of a friend or loved one (via Facebook) on line even in a CLOSED group Facebook sees and knows.

Likewise, hackers and trolls can also utilize such information for their own demented purposes.

You should also be aware that Facebook and possibly a few others are not only violating their own privacy policies that each of us are forced to electronically sign and agree with but with regard to anything concerning medical or mental health they also violate the Federal HIPPA guidelines for patient rights and privacy.

As such, I urge each of you to think twice on what and where you post your questions and comments. Consider personal one on one or genuine local support groups. If that isn’t convenient, then select real, genuine web sites such as this one or some of the new social media groups such as GAB.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

RGV Epilepsy Support Group

Post seizure counseling

The need for post seizure counseling

by
Dr. Lee Outlaw
DSCI0074
Use of a counselor/psychologist can be beneficial in post epileptic seizure recovery

After thirty years of counseling people in practically every area of life including epilepsy, I am obviously an advocate for counseling. In fact, I have written several papers and articles on the subject of the need for professional counseling.

Counseling, that desire to talk to somebody when you just can’t figure things out is always helpful even if the person you’re talking to is only a friend or relative; we all do it.

Don’t think I’m referring only to other people; in my thirty years as a pastor and Christian psychologist, I had standing weekly appointments with both a close pastor friend and a Psychiatrist colleague to simply talk and discuss “things”, to keep from losing my proverbial mind. If you think personal problems are tough, try dealing with hundreds of people’s problems; it can often be more than one person can handle. I might add that this was long before I had been officially diagnosed as an epileptic.

The point is, we all need help from time to time and we need to talk about our problems and issues with life.

Unfortunately for those of us who are epileptics, the ones we want to talk too either don’t want to listen or have pre-conceived ideas about epilepsy. They often perceive epilepsy as a mental illness, drug abuse, anger issues or even demonic possession. In addition, many think we make it all up and are lazy resulting from having to give up driving, unable to work and often afraid to go out in public for fear of having a seizure.

Another problem for many of our friends and family members is they have never witnessed us having a seizure, or so they think. This alone results in a variety of arm chair counselors making unsubstantiated accusations and incorrect recommendations or suggestions.

After my two recent grand mal seizures just 3 hours apart (as stated in my last article), recovery has been tough, really tough”; it has been the most difficult post seizure recovery and taken the longest time for recovery I have ever experienced. Only now nearly three months since the seizures am I beginning to feel almost “normal”.

I believe sincerely the only reason I am even close to full recovery is due to seeking out personal counseling.

A colleague suggested that I might want to consider a series of sessions with a mutual fellow therapist, which I did. I knew this man and like me he is both semi-retired and a Christian Psychologist and he has some experience in counseling epileptics. I agreed and it has been the best thing I have ever done.

The first thing he asked me was, “What are your two greatest fears with regard to being an epileptic?”

Those of us who practice psychology are well aware that the one thing common to everyone is fear; it either drives us to success or failure. Fear can also induce or reduce stress in our lives.

I believe sincerely this is why the Bible tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2Timothy 1:7

My first fear like most epileptics is that of the unknown; that is the not knowing if or when I will have another seizure and what kind I might experience. Also, the older I get is the realization that the next seizure could take my life.

The second fear I shared with my counselor is very personal and something I had held onto for 19 years. Once I shared it with him and God I felt stress almost immediately leave my mind and body. It was and is a great feeling.

The past we hold on to produces emotional poison and develops stress after stress after stress in our lives. This is extremely dangerous for anyone but for the epileptic it can be absolutely fatal. If a past problem is long past and buried deep in your mind it will probably require professional help to eliminate.

The point of this article is simple, Professional Psychological and/or Clinical Pastoral Counseling can be of great benefit to epileptics in relieving stress.

This is part of my reason for starting LIVE Online Counseling beginning April 2nd.

Although epilepsy is not a mental health disorder, due to the extreme impact on an epileptic and their family, there can be associated mental health issues which develop along the way such as mood swings, depression, anger and personality disorders.

All of this can contribute to stress for the epileptic and their friends and family. Counseling can possibly help.

If you haven’t done so, please give Epilepsy counseling a chance.

May God bless us all as we seek to find a cure for Epilepsy.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

Unrecognized Seizure Signals


 
Epilepsy is certainly a disorder of mystery and unpredictability as any epileptic will tell you.

 After ten years being grand mal seizure free, just one day after this past Christmas I found myself waking up in an ambulance from a grand mal seizure in route to the hospital where I encountered a second seizure only three hours later. This has been the worst seizure ever and roughest recovery. After coming home from the hospital, I slept for nearly 3 days and remember almost nothing.

 Although unknown to me until I was fifty-seven years old, I was born an epileptic and had experienced seizures all my life; in fact my grandfather was an epileptic as was his grandfather and his grandfather before him and who knows how far back.

 For those of us older such as me, we grew up in a time when epilepsy had many labels and taboos even linked to mental disorders and demonic possession. As a result, your family or even family doctor might not pursue any detailed medical investigation. In my case, my parents and I were told it was just part of growing up; or so I had always been told. But shortly before my father died, he confided in me that our family doctor had suspected I might have epilepsy but to quote my father, he told “old Doc Holden, there was no way his son was crazy”.

 My father also, didn’t understand that what he witnessed so often in his father as what was called “fits” was actually epileptic seizures as well.

 Although I don’t blame my parents for my epilepsy, it’s very sad to think what just a little more knowledge and information might have done to help me today.

 Since having my first full blown grand mal seizure in 2001, I have made every effort to learn everything I could about epilepsy and how to recognize and avoid the proverbial “seizure triggers” and how to prevent them.

 As most epileptics know the two basics to control and prevention are, 1) take all your meds as prescribed and 2) get at least eight hours sleep every night. In most cases, if an epileptic follows this regiment of treatment the chances of having a seizure are greatly reduced.

 Unfortunately Epilepsy is a neurological disorder and not a disease resulting in the reality that at present there is no cure. The best that can be done at present is the prescribing of a variety of medication, electronic stimulators and surgery. As such the bad news every epileptic receives once diagnosed is “epilepsy is for life”; so your neurologist will instruct you in how to recognize the possibility or the signs of an upcoming seizure.

 Most epileptics are well aware of the most obvious sign of a possible seizure which is the dreaded “aura”. For most of us, we hate the aura worse than the seizure. The seizure strikes and is usually over in just a few minutes but the aura is totally debilitating and can last from a few minutes to several days. Like it or not, the aura is usually a sign of a potential seizure.

 The aura is difficult to describe; especially to non-epileptics.  The average aura time for most epileptics I know is about 15 minutes. My average aura last 24 hours but I have experienced a pre-seizure aura which lasted 2 days and a post-seizure aura which lasted almost a week.

Auras are terrible. They can be mild to migraine headaches, the proverbial “seeing stars”, visualizing “saintly” like glows or halos around people, visualization can take on a yellowish hue as well as the experience of strange sounds and odors.

But the worst aura experience of all for most epileptics is disassociation; the feeling of uncertainty of where you are or what many epileptics describe as the sensation of feeling like you’re in more than one place at a given moment. Some have described it as feeling like you’re here but also somewhere else. Some have likened the experience to a type of “déjàvu”.

The aura often causes an epileptic to lose momentary thought, focus and concentration.

Some research now suggests that due to their debilitating effect on the epileptic, these auras are actually partial seizures. Regardless of what these auras are, they can certainly slow a person down, delay or even force a change or cancellation to plans.

It is important to note that although some epileptics never experience an aura, those that do have different aura experiences. One such experience is “mood change”.

Mood change (which is usually a side effect of anti-seizure medication and not epilepsy) itself is often a signal or precursor to a major seizure. Of great importance is the “Unrecognizable Mood Change”. It might be subtle or it might be drastic. It might not be recognizable to the epileptic patient at all but very noticeable to everyone else. The mood change can begin weeks before the seizure.

As a lifelong epileptic and Christian psychologist I was well aware that mood changes could be a part of epilepsy but as a lifelong epileptic I had never seen myself as having mood changes.  Recently however, my reaction to what I interpreted as a bad smelling slice of ham was actually seen by family members as both irrational and mean spirited. The bottom line is others saw the mood change but I didn’t. In addition my family informed me that over the past forty years I had many similar experiences. 

The bottom line is if you haven’t experienced an epileptic aura, you simply can’t understand but you can try and be observant of the epileptic in your life.

If the epileptic in your life begins demonstrating unusual or a sudden change in behavior, be certain to make them aware of those changes in a very caring and constructive way. You might ask if they have taken all their meds on time or ask how they’re feeling.

If you’re an epileptic, listen to those around you, they might see things happening in you that you don’t see in yourself and if you listen carefully you might prevent a seizure or even save your life.

Let others help you recognize the unrecognizable signals in you.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

 

Just when you thought it was safe

Epilepsy in Plain Sight

Just when you thought it was safe

A personal epilepsy experience by Dr. Lee Outlaw

I am taking a short break from my six part Epilepsy series, “Six often overlooked associated conditions of Epilepsy” to write a special piece on my most recent experience as an epileptic.

I want every epileptic to know that I am not just a Christian Counselor and Psychologist; I am a real life epileptic. Although, my epilepsy is controlled fairly well, like you, I have my epileptic moments and just when I thought it was safe…, EPILEPSY reared its ugly head.

I was driving home (yes I drive) from a meeting feeling perfectly fine when suddenly out of nowhere I was hit with the ugly fist of a full blown Epileptic aura; not a seizure mind you but the next worst thing. I had taken my morning dosage of Depakote and CBD and had gotten my full 8 hours sleep. Apart from the slight stress of the drive itself, there was absolutely nothing to trigger an aura.

It was a very frustrating experience. Although I had had minor auras, this was the first major aura in ten years and that aura led to a major Grand Mal seizure; needless to say I was scared.

The aura was so intense, I had to pull over onto the frontage road from the freeway and eventually I pulled into a convenience store and purchased a diet cola. I finally felt I had walked the aura off well enough that I had control and drove on home; unfortunately the aura wasn’t over.

As I reached my home, I became extremely tired (every epileptic knows that severe tired feeling) and I practically fell out of my van. I made it inside the house and collapsed into my recliner where I remained fading in and out of consciousness for the next eight hours. I had no doubt as to what was happening so I finally took an extra dose of Depakote and ultimately made it to bed.

I woke up Saturday morning and felt some better but I knew things still weren’t right. As usual I took my Depakote and later CBD. I had a light breakfast but the aura remained; not as bad as the previous day but it was bad.

For those of you who might have never experienced an intense epileptic aura, here is what I (and many others) experienced:

It was as though I became semi-conscious, walking around in a hazy light yellow (some experience other colors but mine has always been yellow) fog (unable to focus or concentrate) intermittent déjàvu, weird smells (I smelled cigarette and cigar smoke even though no one in my home smokes and nobody is allowed to smoke in the house) and a thousand crickets in my head (some claim to hear strange sounds or music)(tinnitus/ringing in my ears). I also experienced a light head ache.

As a psychologist I need to point out here that someone experiencing a stroke can have a similar pre-stroke experience. Unless you have had an intense aura and discussed it with your neurologist (even if you are an epileptic) and have such an experience as I have described, you should call 911 immediately; it could be the difference between life and death.

Every epileptic’s aura experience is different but that was my most recent.

I continued to take my Depakote and CBD throughout the day and even an extra half dose of Depakote in the afternoon as my neurologist had previously directed when I experience an intense aura.

The aura seemed to decrease throughout the afternoon until I went to bed that evening.

Around 4:30 am Sunday morning, it happened, I had a “night (Nocturnal) seizure”; I woke up consciously shaking having bitten both my right side tongue and upper and lower lips. My tongue was bitten severely and outer lower lip bite actually bled.

The good news as most of us as epileptics know is that after the night seizure I am feeling much better and am nearly back to normal.

Keep in mind, increasing numbers of neurologist and researchers believe the epileptic aura is actually a simple partial seizure. Regardless, the aura for most of us as epileptics is a horrible experience.

I thank God for a good neurology team, support team which includes my family, great anti-seizure meds and prayer.

I am also thankful for the U.S. Congress having legalized CBD oil in all 50 states and the Texas State Legislature having legalized Low THC/CBD Cannabinol for use by Epileptics. I believe sincerely, had I not been taking CBD, my aura and seizure would have been much greater.

For all epileptics and non-epileptics alike, please remember that epilepsy is not a disease (although since 2014, many researchers have disagreed); it is a neurological disorder. At present there is no known cure and epilepsy does not get better (although most of us agree it is becoming easier to control); it is always there. But with proper care and support it is possible to live a relatively normal life.

May God bless every epileptic and their families and may God give wisdom to epileptic researchers as they seek a cure.

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD