I Now Consider Myself A Person With A Disability

Since my seizures began, I had heard from multiple people in my life that I should pursue being on disability. This was not something I could consider in my mind. As far as I knew, I was a able-bodied person who was able to work a 9-to-5 job like most people I knew in the work force. However, as the years have gone on since I began having seizures and have tried as best as I could to make things work within the positions I have held in that time, I have come to the realization that I am unable to perform like my coworkers were able to. I struggled. I knew something was wrong when I was in the Emergency Room twice in the end of 2014 and the beginning of the year in 2015 and was unable to return to work until I was once again “stable” and able to be in the workplace. So over this last year I made some decisions and came to the conclusion that I now consider myself to be a person with a disability.

My mental health conditions had caused much damage in my life towards the end of 2014. I was at the point where I had begun a working at a new job and was beginning to have problems while at work and in the waking hours of my days. I was hearing voices and hallucinating things that were not there. I was crying uncontrollably for no reason whatsoever. This was only the beginning.

With my new job, I had new medical benefits with Kaiser and so I took it upon myself to start seeing doctors to pursue a second opinion. My employer at the time was very concerned for my well being and was also very encouraging to find out what more I could do about my seizures seeing as I was struggling so with them. I started with my new primary physician and went from there to see a new psychiatrist where I was prescribed my very first depression medication along with an anti-psychotic drug. She told me that I was not schizophrenic as I had thought, but the visions I was seeing were coming from my severe chronic depression. I began taking the medication in hopes that it would all make things better. And so I started falling asleep at my desk while at work and was forced to drink things that would energize me which I had never had to do before in my life.

Things worsened with me and the amount of seizures increased and the symptoms got stranger. One night while alone in my bedroom, I had a terrible seizure which lead me to screaming and “speaking in tongues” or “talking in gibberish” as my family described it. They took me to the ER at once where they pumped me full of Ativan and sent me home once I was subdued. From that point I was taken off of the antipsychotic medication and my condition improved a bit and the hallucinations stopped and their were no voices in my head anymore. Oh and did I mention my neurologist signed a paper stating that I was to not drive anymore? I lost the ability to get to work as well, and so I had to rely on family until I was approved to gain transportation through OCTA Access. This is a wonderful program by the way!

Next thing I knew, I was headed in a downward spiral of sadness and I broke down in front of my shrink. I was delirious and inconsolable. She notified my work that I was to be put on immediate leave for the next few weeks and be put on disability benefits while she enrolled me in what they called “Intensive Outpatient Program” or “I.O.P.”. This program was meant to give me the tools to cope with my depression. The thing was, I had been in therapy before and had tried many of these things in the past. Upon speaking to the group’s leader, I found that I would not get the individual help I needed with my issues and my PTSD which I believe was causing my current meltdown. Go figure!

The weeks went by and though the group therapy was good for me, it wasn’t what I needed. I had to go back to work, or lose my job. Next thing I knew, I was working on a very tough new program at work and trying to get things back to normal at work when I had a bad seizure at work. One of my sisters had to come and get me because I was unable to be calm and was a jittery mess. She took me to the ER where they started running tests on me as I had another seizure in the car on the way there and then AGAIN while sitting in the intake chair speaking to the nurse about why I was there that day. They drugged me yet again to calm my nerves and body and I slept. Apparently I was there for about 10 hours and when I awoke they informed me that everything came back negative and re-diagnosed me with Conversion Disorder which is basic Hysteria.

Yet again I was at a loss. I had an answer which did not help my situation. When I followed up with my shrink, she told me to just continue on with the medications I was on and to see my therapist regularly. Oh, and they increased my depression medication to the maximum dose naturally.

Next thing I know, I am being let go at work just after accusing my coworker of harassment in the workplace. Great.

I decided then to take the summer to help out some family in Florida and be a caregiver for my elders for a while. Being stress free and out of work, I only had a few small seizures while away from home. A miracle? I think NOT. I was out of the stressful environment of being in a normal workplace. I was able to relax and do things at my pace. Or at my elders’ pace at least. haha

Upon returning home, I began looking for work seeing as my unemployment had run out. I got a job after 2 weeks of searching and got to it! Yet again, I was down. I was depressed and stressed and having panic attacks and seizures all over the place. What was I to do? I sought therapy once again through MediCal. I did the right thing. I found my current therapist who began working away with me on my PTSD and doing EMDR sessions with me. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.



Through these sessions with lights and memories being processed together, I was able to go ahead and finally deal with my past abuses and face up to the fact that I am alive and well and able to live.

Sadly, this did not stop my seizures from occurring, nor did it stop me from having panic attacks in the workplace. Thus in April of this year, I quit my job and began filing for disability benefits. I have found that over the last few years, I just have not been able to perform very well at any job that I have held due to what is going on with me. The seizures, the panic attacks, and much more… It is all so difficult to handle when I am expected to be present at work for 40 hours a week and be high functioning at that. I have tried so very hard to do everything in my power to keep up my spirits and be the best worker I can be, but their has finally come a time when I know in my heart and mind and my body that I just cannot do things like some others out there can.

I am waiting now. I have been waiting since May for an answer. I can only hope that I will be approved for the benefits that I am in such need of at this point in my life. Family in my life has been extremely supportive of my decision, as have friends and my significant other as well. I am so very grateful to them all. The only support I am in need of now is from the government. My hopes are high, and my medications are increased as my anxieties are amped up like never before.

Now, I wait.


Florida Family Blues: Final Post

In the end, all the happenings and goings on in the household of my great aunt Carol and Hj made me very depressed and upset and I had a major panic attack one night and I was unable to sleep. I purchased my ticket to fly home just in time for my 27th birthday. This left me 2 weeks to tie up all the loose ends that I’d left hanging all over the place. I spent the day with my friend I’d made that summer and attempted to stay in her home until my flight time arrived. I was not able to secure a place to stay through her, but I was able to find a place through one of Hj’s friends whom had taken me out to Bingo a few times. I spent the night with her and she flipped out the next day and decided she was going to try to buy me another flight home to leave the next day. She was telling me that I needed to go home and show my mother that I was alright.

This was upsetting mostly because I’d been away from my mother all summer and she knew all of my plans the entire time and knew I wouldn’t make any rash decisions before letting her know. I had my reasons for remaining in Florida for that span of time and I had plans for it all. This woman was not about to ruin shit for me and so I took matters into my own hands and attempted to get help from my family in Tampa so that I could spend time there and be ready to fly home when the time came.

My last little stop before I left the town of Port Charlotte was to say my goodbyes to Hj and Carol before leaving. And of course to take all of my belongings I’d acquired over the summer and ship them home (I had purchased many souvenirs as well as items of clothing among other things). I made my way to the house over on Easy Street to face the music.

Hj was sitting outside in the sun when her friend and I arrived at the house. I told her I was leaving and she informed me that she was not surprised. I’d been discussing leaving with her for a time because I’d been pushing her to arranging a caregiver for her with all of her dementia issues and her stomach illnesses and I had done all I could I felt to help her. She told me she figured I was bored enough spending my days with a couple of old ladies and helping them out had drained me. I talked with her about how I’d panicked and would be going home shortly. I went into the house to gather my belongings.

I peaked into the Florida Room where the ladies spent their time watching television and looking out onto the canal just off their backyard where the small swimming spa was just outside the sliding glass doors in the room. My great aunt was lying on the small loveseat she tended to doze in most mornings after spending her nights awake due to her restless legs. She lay there now quite asleep. I made my way to the guest room which I’d made my home-away-from-home during my stay and began packing up my things as quickly and soundlessly as I could and taking them outside into the car.

Once I’d packed everything away, Hj and her friend told me I had to have a talk with Carol and say goodbye properly. I walked back into the house and woke Carol and told her I was leaving the house. She reacted defensively and began saying that she’d disappointed me. I told her that no, in fact she had not and that I felt that I had failed her. If I was truly the grown woman I thought I was, I would have come here and helped her as I’d promised from the start to do, rather than being an aid to Hj the entire time. Yes, I had assisted Carol in sorting through some of her papers and such, but I had been unable to help her sort through all her hoarded belongings and had been unable to sell anything. I had failed her completely and I felt it all the previous night when I had been unable to sleep. I told her that I’d been depressed all summer and had done the best I could to try to help her and Hj out as far as trying to convince them that they’d needed caregiving of some sort from a professional, but that all of this had been beyond me. I’d barely known these women for a mere 4 months. Who was I to them? A stranger. I had not felt like family to these women prior to my visit. I had short memories of my great aunt from the last time I’d seen her when I was about 6 years of age. This was the first time I’d met Hj and gotten to know her and basically the first time I’d had the chance to get to know my great aunt Carol.

I can happily say though, through all of the drama and heartache I’d felt over this summer of 2015, that I learned a great deal about these two wonderful, strong, women of this world. College graduates, feminists, and God knows just wonderful people in this world… I love them both. With all of my heart. I am so very happy to know them and have them in my life. Though they have always been far away from me, I know in my heart they are my family. I always will. They are there for me if I need them, and I am here for them just the same. I let them both know this upon my leaving. Yes, it was an upsetting end to the summer, but I honestly know that I left at a moment when I knew I had to remove myself from their home. I had spent time with them, learned about their lives, their struggles, their achievements… I was content in all this. I love them. I always will. One can only hope that family knows this. This is my hope. I love you Hj. I love you Carol. Know this. ❤Carol & Hj

Struggles and Doctors

So. I was laid off from my second bookkeeping job and I kept my government provided medical benefits. I had no concerns with finding a new position as I had about 5 years of experience. After submitting my application to about 20 positions, I had 3 interviews lined up in the 2 weeks following being laid off. Boom! New job the 3rd interview. I was the only person they interviewed and I rushed them into it since I had already gotten an offer from the 2nd interview. I decided on the latter because of the promise of medical benefits. With my seizures and my mental health issues, I knew that this was what I needed.

Though this job was challenging, it was far less stressful than my previous position in a tax office that was very fast paced and demanding. My issue was with management there, whereas with this job, it was a matter of learning all of the items in our inventory. I was working for a manufacturer of Performance Makeup used for movies and also for airbrush tattoos and body paint. I was in love! I was excited to be around creative people. However, their were many things to learn. I studied and improved by working with my warehouse manager and all the guys in the warehouse and office. Yes, I was working with all men, but I felt right at home. They all treated me like one of their own and I felt right at home. I was not the only new employee so I wasn’t the only newbie. The stress was horrible for the first month, but I was picking things up as I went along. In just 6 weeks, my medical benefits kicked in! I had also begun seeing a therapist who helped, but I felt I needed more.

I decided I wanted a second opinion on my seizures. It had been a year since they had started and I had not been able to get much help with them and they continued on no matter what I tried. I attempted to meditate, exercise, do the essential oil thing, almost anything you could think of naturally to help with my seizures and my flashbacks and anything and everything associated with my PTSD. Nothing helped. I needed professional help. So I went and got it.

First things first, I went and saw my new primary care doctor. I told her all about myself and my medical and mental health history including my most recent hospitalization the year before. I also informed her that more recently I’d begun having little hallucinations and hearing voices. She immediately put me on an antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication and referred me to psychiatry because I was also having panic attacks at work.



When I first spoke to someone regarding my psychiatric doctor appointment, basically each person I spoke to would ask if I was having thoughts of suicide. The truth was, I wasn’t. I was under lots of pressure at work and now I was searching for medical help yet again. I wanted to get to the bottom of all this and I wanted to be healed. Well, maybe not healed, but I wanted to feel okay again. I was not okay. So, I went and saw my psychiatrist. The voices had not gone away, so she prescribed me an anti-psychotic medication which would help with the hallucinations and the voices. I was diagnosed with depression for the first time in my life, and she informed me that that is where my psychotic episodes derived from.

I decided I needed to inform management at work in case I had a seizure while at the office. I did so in the form of a heartfelt yet informative email to everyone I worked with (once I’d received approval from the owner), and I was so pleased to hear that everyone was very supportive and promised to help me should I ever have an episode at work. Not long after I wrote the email I had a few seizures at work. I do not regret informing them AT ALL.

Soon, I made plans with my primary doctor to see a Neurologist once again. I wanted my second opinion on my Psychogenic Non-epileptic Seizures (PNES or NEAD). This doctor was a total douche. No sooner had he walked into the room than he basically was pushing me back out the door. I wasn’t leaving without some kind of testing happening though and I made that very clear. His medical opinion went something like “What you have are episodes, not seizures.” Well… He was simply one of those doctors who believe that my seizures are “pseudo seizures”, basically that I was faking it. Which has been a common belief for people who have what I have. Non-epileptic seizures just aren’t very well known and their is no medication for them because they are not epileptic. He allowed me to undergo another EEG test that would measure the electrical activity of the brain or show if I had epilepsy or not. Funny thing was, this doctor did sign a letter saying that I should not be driving because I was having “seizures”! The fuck?! So I had to find another way to get to my job which was an hour drive away already for me. I had my family driving me at first until I found my WONDERFUL alternative means of transportation. OCTA Access! Such a blessing let me tell you. I will have to write another little blurb on that entire experience sometime.


Negative. I had my second opinion and it sucked. So, I stuck with my psychiatrist a bit longer before having a major breakdown in December. Nearing was the date of the anniversary of the sexual assault that had happened to me 3 years previously, along with flashbacks, crying fits, panic attacks at work, and seizures in my sleep…

State of Mentality: Preliminary Results & Diagnosis

The team of physicians including the main doctor on my case and the underlings that were learning under him all entered my room the morning of the 3rd day of my being admitted into the UCI Medical Center. What the doctor told me was a relief, but also a major concern to myself and my family to hear.

The attending physician informed us that the MRI they had taken proved to show no signs of any tumors or signs that anything in my body was producing the seizures. He then went on to tell us that the Video EEG they took of me in order to record a seizure had shown that indeed their was no sign that any electrical misfires in my head were occurring, what I had was not at all epilepsy. They decided to tell me that what was happening was referred to as “pseudo seizures”, which in regular people talk means that they are psychological and that nothing was medically wrong with me. They told me that they would be sending a psychiatrist in to speak with me and evaluate me later that day. With that, they all exited the room.

I must admit that I was somewhat disappointed in the result. Not that I was disappointed that I did not have epilepsy, but that their was no medication the doctors could offer me to fix whatever was wrong with me. That no tumor was someplace in my body that could have been removed in order to make these seizures stop. That their was no “easy” solution to what was happening to me. Sending in a psychiatrist meant to me that this was going to take time and that their was indeed no simple solution to what was happening to me.

After waiting hours and hours for the psychiatrist to show up, she finally arrived around 2pm that afternoon to begin her evaluation. She asked me if what I was going to discuss with her could be spoken about in front of my father, and when I looked to my Dad I immediately said no (not because it had anything to do with him, but due to the fact that their were just some things my Dad did not know about me). She went ahead and asked him to leave the room until she was done speaking with me. He left slowly, unsure as to why I’d asked for this, but still prepared to allow the doctors some space.

She began by asking me if I had been in therapy before and if I had had any mental illness previously. I started out by explaining that I’d always had issues with anxiety since I could remember and that in high school I had my bouts of depression like other teens, but a bit worse I feel since I was on some heavy medication for my acne (Accutane) which really upset my mental state. I also explained that in the most recent few years I’d began to have panic attacks as well, which I believe stemmed from some sexual abuse that had happened to me when I was in high school. However, more recently in 2011 during the Winter holidays, a family member’s significant other had sexually assaulted me. What stemmed from that occurrence was the worst depression I had ever been through in my life. I would cry for an hour or more every day of 2012 for over 6 months. Only when I was encouraged by my best friend to start preparing for a 5k run and started to have an healthy exercise routine, did things start to improve drastically. I stopped crying for the most part unless I spoke about the assault from the previous year, or if flashbacks took over my mind as they tended to do. I had also gone through hallucinations and such other things that upset me.

Upon hearing my stories and happenings in my life, the psychiatrist that evaluated me concluded that I have PTSD mainly, and that my seizures most likely were right along that and are called Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures and so were psychologically produced. Along with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I have a generalized anxiety disorder, depression, panic disorder, and a touch of obsessive compulsive disorder. The list seemed to go on and on. She suggested that since I did not have medical insurance that I seek a cognitive behavioral therapist to talk to and a regular psychiatrist that could regulate some medication with me and a schedule to follow and work on with my therapist.

She eventually left my hospital bed and room and brought my Dad back in. I told him what she’d told me and he carefully did not ask too many questions. At the end of this, a nurse came in and began prepping my trip out of the hospital so I could return home at last. The next week I started at my new job as a Bookkeeping Assistant and held that job for almost a year. I also sought out a therapist to begin my healthy recovery. All through this time, the seizures continued on…

Below is a table displaying the differences between Epileptic and Psychogenic Non epileptic Seizures:

Epil vs PNES

State of Mentality: Unstable; Part 1

It’s true. The things my doctors have told me. They are true. I have a list of mental illnesses just as I’d always suspected, but had never truly accepted about myself. I’ve always sort of known that I was an anxious person; even as a young child I could sense that my unease around other people was probably a bit worse than everyone else was experiencing. Every kid hates getting up in front of the classroom to present a group project, or make a speech and have to say it in front of the entire class or school at an assembly. In my case though, it was the most horrific thing my mind could fathom. As I grew older and more aware of friends and teenagers and their thoughts on me and themselves and my schoolwork, it all just worsened with the years. In junior high it was dreadful to have to make a poster for a project and have to talk about it for just a few short minutes in front of a class. I’d shake and tremble in fear as the seconds went on and I stumbled through each part of my carefully planned out little poster, trying to remember each detail so I wouldn’t come up short on time. High school I did my very best to try and take drama with my best friend and even that didn’t help very much. I’ll admit it helped ever so slightly when it came to my good humor and making my sarcastic jokes more openly with friends, but I was still struggling with my anxieties.

As if things weren’t bad enough, I had the worst acne amongst my friends. It was so bad that it wasn’t just on my face, but on my shoulders and back as well. My mother decided to take me to my doctor who tried a great many creams and things on my skin, and from there they sent me to a dermatological specialist. This specialist knew that I was only 14/15 at the time and so before taking drastic steps, they too wanted to try creams and topical ointments on me. After trying the harshest thing for your skin at the time, the well-known “Retin-A Micro”, they found it to just not be enough. My dermatologist decided it was time for me to take the ultimate acne fighting medication out there, Accutane. Since this drug could severely harm a baby should one get pregnant, they also sent me to a gynecologist as well to start me on birth control to regulate my hormones on top of that. 15 years old and I was on “The Pill”. All I knew was that this was just another thing my doctors were going to try on me. This treatment was supposed to last for a year. It took a year and a half to heal completely and only have scars remaining. However, back to my mental health…

During this time, while on this drug called Accutane, it was not only causing chemical changes in my body, but psychological as well. Yes the birth control helped level out my hormones, but I was still a teenager and change was around every corner. Naturally, I was extremely depressed all that time. Concerned that a friend might hug me too tightly and that they’d make my back bleed, or that I’d be made fun of for having such gross little pustules all over my face. I had many a suicidal thought around then. It wasn’t all that bad mostly because one of my best friends at the time was looking out for me and would talk to me when I was feeling extra low. Not even my parents knew what to do with me. My mother would cry most days we would have a doctor visit thinking that the medication wasn’t going to work. Well, it did. I was left with scarring all over my shoulders and back. My face though looked glorious and clear of blemishes from then on mostly. Sadly as for the scars, I was stuck with them unless I decided to undergo injections of steroids, or painful laser surgery. Neither of which interested me at all at the time. It was senior year! I was ready to get the hell out of high school.

Eventually, as I struggled through senior year, I made it out alive, graduated with some honors and started up in college. Cypress College in fact. Didn’t quite make it through that first semester though. Towards the end I’d realized I’d taken on too many heavy courses and had to drop out of all of them as I was failing all my units. Also, I had a severe case of tonsillitis over that holiday season.

Through college I sucked it up and worked hard and even graduated. Though I did develop panic attacks. Turns out my anxieties at work and school were beginning to really hurt me internally and I wasn’t sure how to deal with them all. My job was not giving me much money and hours and so each day I would be driving my car to work and just dreading being there for the short hours that I’d be slave to my micro-manager of a boss. So I would hyperventilate and tremble and could feel the roof of my mouth tingling and my asthma would be really bad to the point I had to use multiple inhalers to save me from an asthma attack. It was such a mess…

A friend suggested I see a therapist. I did for about 6 months until I realized I was wasting my money and just needed to dump my boyfriend. Which I did. Also, I lost 55 pounds in 2009, and went from 218 to 164. I was feeling more confident than ever before and was fit thanks to taking kick boxing and belly dancing! Such fun classes by the way.

Sadly, the panic attacks were still happening. Then, something happened around this time. I had gone to visit family outside of California and was sexually assaulted by someone I had come to know very well thanks to a family member of mine. It scarred me for life and left me depressed for the entire year of 2012. I cried for the first 6 months of that year. Each and every single day I was crying for about an hour a day. I would have to pull over my car and cry and sometimes scream wherever I was. Or cry alone in a bathroom when I could at work or at home quietly to myself. Anything to get the emotions out of me. The shock, the pain and the betrayal. I have never felt anything more horrible in my life. I even got a new job at this point and stuck it out because I was caregiving for a friend’s family member. I would have panic attacks all the time and crying fits, but no one was around to notice and I did not reach out for help from anyone. I told just a few very close friends of mine and that was all.

I had a new boyfriend and things were looking a bit happier for me, so I thought. Aside from the occasional panic attacks and hallucinations. Yes, I said hallucinations. I’ll discuss this more later.

Finally, once I quit the job I had and found another bookkeeping job, something crazy happened to me. Something that has been happening to me ever since May 5, 2013.