Please Stop Making Seizure Jokes

When it comes to making jokes, there are some topics that are off-limits. Of course, this includes jokes about race, gender, sexuality, identity, ability, and mental illness. I think most people are in agreement that this kind of humor is offensive. However, there is one specific topic that I would like to shed some light on: seizures. This may not seem like an issue that needs to be brought up, but it is something that deserves more acknowledgement and discussion. It is also an issue that particularly strikes a nerve for me, so I am writing this to make my feelings known.

On the night of January 1, 2016, I witnessed my older brother having his first ever epileptic seizure at the age of 20. To this day, this has been the scariest thing I have ever seen in my life. Prior to this, my parents and I had no reason to think that my brother was epileptic. Seeing him seize on his bedroom floor for the first time ever was terrifying, especially not knowing why it was happening. I remember being too afraid to open the door, hearing him banging around in his room, and having my dad come upstairs to do it. And the scene behind that door was a nightmare: my brother jerking and flailing on the floor, no control of his body, blood on his face from hitting his head on a side table while falling off of his bed.

He’s had a few more seizures since then, and this was the only one I witnessed, but it was enough to paint a haunting image in my head of what a seizure looks like. For a little while after the incident, I would think back on it a lot, running the scene through my head over and over like a flashback. While this hasn’t happened to me in a long time, I still often fear for my brother’s safety. Knowing that he could have a seizure while doing something dangerous, like driving or lifting heavy equipment at work, scares me to no end.

In the last couple weeks, there have been a few occasions in which I’ve been in groups of people where someone made a joke related to having a seizure. People think it’s funny to talk about “seizing” in a casual manner, but it is really not something to be taken lightly. Anyone who has witnessed someone they love lose complete control of their body and unconsciously put themselves in a position of danger, would never even consider making a joke about that kind of trauma. In the moment, I did not say anything to push back against the jokes I heard, out of fear that I would bring the mood down, so I understand not wanting to confront someone about this kind of issue. But if you are reading this, I sincerely ask that you to think before you make a joke about a sensitive topic. Even if the joke is harmless, you could still be bringing up a painful memory for someone around you, which is enough to devastate them. Please be considerate of all people when you make a joke. There are plenty of ways to be funny without being offensive.

 

Stop. Making. Seizure. Jokes.