Epilepsy The Unwelcome Visitor - Don't Panic!

One day, right out of the blue I suddenly started to become a little scared of the road traffic. It’s nothing I thought, just my imagination, nothing more than that.

But that’s where I was little bit wrong. Over a long period of time I started to get just a teeny weenie little bit more afraid. Then like a bolt out of the blue, many months down the line, I realised that I was living in a world of panic relating to all forms of traffic.

Fortunately for me, I was soon to see my neurologist at a famous London hospital specialising in neurology and neurosurgery.

The day arrived for me to travel up to London to the hospital. I had to board the Piccadilly line underground train. I was lucky that the tube train was standing waiting at the west London station with its doors wide open. I rushed like a bat out of hell down the last few stairs leading down to the platform and darted straight onto the train. “Thank God for that”, I said to myself. I instantly noticed that I was puffing and blowing like anything. This just was not right I thought.

I arrived at the Central London station and made my way off of the platform. Thank God for that again. This station only has lifts, and not a frightening escalator. I would have no difficulty ascending the escalator, but I was thinking ahead for the return journey, which would have been descending the on the escalator. What a frightening thought that would been, if there had been no lift!

I walked round the corner to the hospital and was pleased to find that the road was still was still a narrow, one way street, so the fear of me crossing the road was no way as great as it would have been in other streets that I had to encounter.

Fortunately I did not have to wait long to see my neurologist. This man I had great faith in, since we had first met many years ago. First we discussed my case in depth and then I told him of my new fear that had seemed to have got out of hand. He advised me that he was arranging an urgent appointment for me to see one of their cognitive therapists.

Unfortunately I like fellow sufferers had to wait three weeks in order to see this therapist.

I was interviewed by this lady, who from the outset, I was impressed by and had inspired me; I had a lot of confidence in her. After the interview she said that that she would start to see me when her diary was free, but it was absolutely full, but due to the state that she saw me in, she said that she would try and squeeze me in say a couple of weeks.

It was now time for the return journey home. The time was the rush hour and the station platform was starting to become really packed.

Whilst standing on the platform waiting for a train on my return journey, I heard the Piccadilly line tube train in the distance trundling along getter louder, and louder and nearer for every second that went by. Suddenly I saw the headlights of the train as it came into the station. I felt this ‘magnet’ drawing me forward closer and closer to the edge of the platform and to what would have been into path of the train. Thank the Good Lord that this did not happen, but when I got onto the train I was sweating like mad and started to fit. I was shouting out all sorts of gobbledygook and after about fifteen minutes my train arrived at my station. I struggled up the stairs and I found that I was gripping onto the handrail like mad. I was now onto a level surface of the way out to the ticket barrier, when all of a sudden I fell to the ground and was fitting all the time. Remember this was now rush hour, but nobody came to my assistance. Although I was dressed in a navy suit with a spotless clean white sheet on and a blue tie I was ignored.

I daresay that many of you fellow sufferers have been and are still treated in the same way. Members of the public view us druggies and or alcoholics. A disgrace. Hold your heads in shame!

Then right out of the blue came this lady (who I will always think of as my guardian angel), bless her. “I you are alright love, do you suffer from epilepsy?”

Somehow I managed to nod, with which she left me temporarily, and brought back two police officers. She had told them that what I was suffering from and the officers called an ambulance.

After a few hours in the Accident and Emergency department of the hospital that I was admitted to, the station I was allowed to go home.

The following day, when I got into work, I explained everything from the previous day to my female line manager. I asked if I could go into a private office to ring my neurologist’s secretary, but whilst I was on the telephone I suddenly broke down in tears. In my sobbing I told her that I could not cope in life anymore in life, and that I wanted to be admitted into hospital.

I was in no fit state for work and my boss sent me home. Early in the afternoon the telephone rang, it was my neurologist’s secretary who told me that I was being admitted into hospital that same afternoon.

On reception into the psychiatric ward, the cognitive therapist assessed me whereby after listening to all of my history along with my recent experiences and traumas, she arranged for me to go out into the streets of London accompanied by a carer.

I must admit that even crossing at traffic lights with the green lights showing in my favour of crossing, and that I was accompanied by the carer I was still panic stricken to crossing the roads.


I am not going to tell anymore in this very frightening story of myself back in 1997, because it was a very frightening passage in my life, but to say that worry can lead to stress. Stress can lead onto anxiety which in turn accompanied by your epilepsy The Unwelcome Visitor (Tuv) All of this, I believe, brings on panic attacks. Whilst all this goes on the Tuv will have taken up residence with us. Panic attacks are the worst thing that can happen to you. The only way that I was going to get better was to face the fear and the panic head on and to say a resounding NO, you are not going to beat me, but I am going to beat you.

Lots of us are able to do this, but sadly there are a lot of sufferers who cannot. These poor souls are always in my daily thoughts and prayers, in that their illness/es can be made less aggressive. Likewise that kinder lives can be brought not only to them, but of course all of their loved ones and carers.

But for those who can do this, I ask that you do not let anything get ridiculously out of hand as I did. It can do you so much harm. However, if you seek help and advice earlier you will find that your stress will not even get to the panic level. Panic attacks can and do you so much harm, that it is quite unbelievable.

Hindsight is such a marvellous thing and can, and indeed does teach us so much about in our lives.

I have put this very personal blog out to you, so that you might learn how to avoid, worry and stress from very slowly building up until it reaches and almighty crescendo as it did with me, leaving me in a world of panic bordering onto a psychiatric illness.

Richard Atterwill

Author of Epilepsy The Unwelcome Visitor

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