Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological problem. (In case you’re wondering, migraine, stroke, and Alzheimer’s rank above it.) When people have a seizure, they may have convulsions, “lose track of time,” have a facial tick, or repeat a motion, all depending upon the type of seizure. Where the activity in your brain takes place determines the type of seizure, but no matter what the seizure looks like on the outside, the events on the inside of your brain are the same.
Normally your brain functions in an orderly manner. Neurons fire and the messages from one is passed to the next. This goes on time after time after time. In fact, it happens so automatically and so reliably that you’ve probably never given it any thought.
When you have a seizure, it’s like a storm inside your brain. Neurons are firing uncontrollably. These brain cells are sending out signals that are mashing into one another like bumper cars. Your brain, which is like a super computer when you think about it, is not able to process all of this data. It has to take steps to protect itself. The efforts to process the data while also protecting itself result in the outward appearances we categorize as a seizure disorder or epilepsy.
Not all of the effects of a seizure can be seen. All of that neuron-firing makes a person very tired. Often, there will be a period of time after a seizure when a person is a bit confused and very drowsy. Often the person will sleep for a while before feeling more normal.
It’s also likely that a person won’t remember what happened during the seizure. That can be a scary feeling, but the people who were with you when the seizure happened, can tell you what they observed so that you can tell your doctor.
The main thing to know is that many people have seizures. All of them share the experience of a storm in the brain. There are many medications and treatments available to people with a seizure disorder. The exact type of seizure you have – what it looks like – will help your doctor to come up with a treatment plan that’s just right for you.