"Years after being diagnosed, epilepsy still affects me. I can't sit still, even to pay overdue bills. I struggle through thank-you notes; it takes me twice as long to write and think about what I want to say. My attention span is shorter than normal. I am extremely hyper, all the time. I will start on one thing, then switch to another before the first thing is completed. I don't sleep as much as I used to.

I am just as stupid as can be. Sometimes I am as sharp as a tack, but other times nothing makes sense. I'm inconsistent. The wrong words come out of my mouth sometimes. I've gone to a restaurant and asked for fried children instead of chicken. Or said I poured vodka (instead of vinegar)."

— Excerpts from interview with Chris Lewis, a person with epilepsy

The personal perspective illustrates some of the many ways that behavior can change with epilepsy. Though most people don't experience any of these problems, sometimes seizures may leave you afraid to go to work, school, or play. Seizure medicines can make you sleep more, cause you to act differently, or change your personality. And you may find that epilepsy is misunderstood by many people, sometimes even your friends and loved ones.

What if you've had epilepsy since childhood? Maybe you thought some of your quirks were just that—personality traits specific to you. But actually there may be some connection between your epilepsy and your mannerisms, feelings, and behaviors. After all, if many people with epilepsy have the same quirks as you do, there may be a common cause behind them.

Keep reading. Maybe you'll read experiences that you've had before or learn ways to cope with them.

Authored By: 
Steven C. Schachter, MD
Joseph I. Sirven MD
Reviewed By: 
Joseph I. Sirven MD
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Thursday, August 22, 2013