Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Kayla Bacon-Dramatically Skipping Down Road
Kayla Bacon-Dramatically Skipping Down Road
Kayla Bacon / Her Campus
Life > Experiences

Personal Earthquakes

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northeastern chapter.

I have epilepsy. I have seizures. I have personal earthquakes.

Let me preface this by saying, for each person, seizures are different. There are various types, and many people don’t recognize that they have seizures. Additionally, having epilepsy does not necessarily mean you have had or will have a seizure. It only means that you are more vulnerable to them than everyone else. That being said, I have generalized tonic-clonic seizures (the type you probably think of when you think of seizures) and tonic seizures.

With a tonic-clonic seizure, I shake rigidly, and with a tonic seizure, I start to lose my balance and wobble right before I go stiff. So, my little brother started referring to them as my personal earthquakes. Saying it this way helps to lighten the subject, making it less doom and gloom and easier to think and talk about. 

When I quake, I don’t get much warning because generalized epilepsy comes over the whole brain all at once. I feel a pulsing, which gives me a second, maybe two, to get down before a rush takes over. It starts. At that moment, I don’t hear, see, or know anything but the rush. Then it stops just as quickly as it starts, dropping me back where I was before. 

When I come back, it takes me a moment to assess the damage. My hands, my feet, and my lips prickle, like when you try to move your leg after it’s fallen asleep. I have definitely made it to the ground by that point, whether I could lower myself ahead of time or had been shaken down. I don’t try to stand immediately because the ground still feels unstable. I sit there in shock. Sometimes I start laughing as I try and figure out, what the f*ck?

Like an earthquake, I have to stay on guard in case of aftershocks. This would be a cluster, multiple seizures back to back. Seizures like to come back to back. The longer someone goes without a seizure, the less likely it is that they will have another one. Every day without one is another mile away from the hypocenter. 

But knowing I will always be in a seismic zone, there are some precautions I can take. I can’t have more than one drink within 24 hours. I can’t drive in my home state unless I am six months free of seizures. I get 8 hours of sleep every night. I drink lots of water and don’t take any unnecessary risks. Most importantly, I don’t stress. I can’t stress, or that could give me the shakes. Being “at risk” can help lead to a very healthy lifestyle in many aspects. 

Each time I quake, I go over and study the situation surrounding the event. I analyze the faults and rebuild my routines from the rubble, so I can resist the disaster. I try to analyze the moment things went wrong, and how I could have prevented the seizure, but just like an earthquake, I couldn’t have. 

These are my personal earthquakes, specialized to me. I am not a doctor, nor can I know what every case of epilepsy or all seizures looks like. Don’t expect one person to have all the answers, react to, or come back from their seizures in the same way. I use dark humor to make it less scary, but many will not find it funny. I get a bit of brain fog, but I am generally back to normal within 24 hours; others may take days to return to themselves. I don’t need an ambulance for a tonic seizure lasting less than thirty seconds. Some require you to call 911 immediately. Always ask each person what they need.

Her Campus Placeholder Avatar
Caroline Ros

Northeastern '27

I’m an architecture student at Northeastern, I am the oldest of 4 and an artist.