June 24, 2019

Essay: My Childhood Seizures Could Have Been Terrifying, but My Dad Made It OK

When I was little, my dad explained my seizures to me using the vocabulary of electrical circuits.

“Your brain is like a light,” he said. “Most of the time it is on. Sometimes it turns off.” I was 6 and just tall enough to reach the switch plate by the bathroom door. “Those times when it is off,” he continued, “those are the seizures.”

I liked this explanation. Over coloring books and crayons, this became the way I described what a seizure was to my friends. My brain had a light switch, unambiguous and predictable. And cool. Something about having a brain that worked differently felt very cool.

As a child, I learned from my dad’s analogy that my seizures were not something to be afraid of. Lights were normal. They were everywhere. Once you learn how to operate a lamp, you never need to worry about getting lost in the dark. And so I approached the seizures with curiosity rather than fear.