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DID and pseudoseizures

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I'm trying to find information on how pseudoseizures may enter the picture for someone with DID.

My fiancee has DID, but she also occasionally suffers seizures. She'll suddenly get a sharp headache, gets a bit woozy... and then BAM, hits the ground face first. She'll remain unconscious for about five minutes. A couple of minutes before she comes out of it, her body will give a couple of big jerks. And then she'll suddenly spring back into consciousness with a huge gasp. She'll be a bit confused for a minute or two, but after a couple more minutes, she'll be as good as new.

Her pdoc originally dx'ed her with epilepsy/complex partial seizures. She's now on Topamax for the seizures. But I spent a couple of weeks with her in which the meds were clearly not doing a thing. She's since had her dosage increased, and the seizures are less frequent.

But I'm not convinced her seizures are, in fact, a brain chemistry thing that can be treated with meds. I'm not sure why I think that, but sometimes I can spot an emotional trigger, and they sometimes are connected to switiching out (but not into) a dissociative episode. It's not like taking the Topamax is a bad thing... but I just wonder if it's helping.

Does this ring a bell with anyone?

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DID can actually show up as frontal epilepsy on brain scans lol.

and you are right, according to my only therapist that ever made any sense... it is not neurological and meds don't touch it.

as he described it, when two people change places up front too abruptly, it makes such a sudden change on the direction the brain is going, that it pretty much fritzes for a moment. the second cause, he told me, was that flashbacks were ofttimes so severe (i.e. we lost ourselves in the memory so completely) that the huge rush of adrenaline and other chemicals would cause pseudo-seizures because our brain couldn't cope with the sudden onslaught.

i used to "seize myself to sleep" lol. letting the body go unconscious was so scary, and we'd "revolvign door" so sharply (people switching too fast) that we'd lie there shuddering for an hour before we passed out.

we no longer have seizures. it's a relief! eventually, you get through enough memories that the flashbacks quit being an issue. and eventually you learn to ground yourself enough that you don't panic so much. and eventually you work through enough communication inside that you don't switch so hard and abruptly and often.


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hi dust,

i'm multiple (we prefer that to saying we're disordered heh), and this definitely rings bells. i had to reply because i've never seen it discussed in forums and such for dissociative people - leading me to assume it was a seperate problem. still, we've been suspicious that somehow the pseudoseizures are involved in the same "mechanics" as uncontrolled switches (and maybe even the creation of new people here!).

we've not discussed this with a doctor, since we've encountered so much stigma/disbelief in the past from medical professionals about the diagnosis of DID itself. instead, we're sort of flying on our own research about what happens to us during these events. so your mileage may vary greatly, and i could be very very wrong (but of course i don't think so!).

what happens to us is suddenly feeling like we're about to have a panic attack, then suddenly losing (almost) all muscular control and dropping to the floor. our body will shake violently and movement is almost impossible (it can take over an hour to get up if we're alone). we remain conscious however, and it is a terrifying state. it also happens during sleep - it can wake us out of a sound sleep, to realize we cannot move to get out of bed. during sleep it's always precipitated by a dream that we cannot move (something that scares us to the point of phobia), then we wake to find it's true (although temporary).

it feels very similar to night terrors, which we also have. if you're familiar with night terrors, it's the awareness that you are trying to control your body and cannot that is exactly the same. in a night terror however, we don't realize we are dreaming. during one of these pseudoseizure events, we're perfectly awake and aware of who and where we are.

rather than seizures, however, we've decided that our symptoms are more stongly represented by cataplexy rather than epilepsy. this site defines cataplexy as:

Episodes of muscular weakness which, depending on the severity of the attack, show up as anything from a barely perceptible slackening of the facial muscles to the dropping of the jaw or head, weakness at the knees, or total collapse on the floor. Speech is slurred, eyesight impaired (double vision, inability to focus) but hearing and awareness remain undisturbed. These attacks are triggered by strong emotions such as exhilaration and laughter, anger and surprise. Cataplexy may be most severe when the subject is tired rather than fully alert and can lead to considerable anxiety although anxiety itself is not a trigger The attacks last some minutes and may end in resumption of normal behaviour or the sufferer may slip into sleep sometimes of extended duration.

in our case, the most severe attacks are precipitated by feeling rage. less severe attacks can follow extreme anxiety/panic. it's not predictable - i can feel rage and it almost never happens, until one day i will indeed drop to the floor again and remember i do this.

if you follow the above link, try looking at the secondary symptoms of narcolepsy (cataplexy apparently makes a dx of narcolepsy automatic). many of those symptoms are experienced by multiples every day, just defined within the context of multiple identities rather than "automatic pilot". this leads us to wonder if the mechanisms of dissociation and narcolepsy are related.

sorry to make this so long, but i've never discussed it before and i'm hoping that by being descriptive, someone else will also find this familiar and let us know ;)

let us know how the medication keeps working out (or not). i hope it indeed does help. we've never taken a med that's had a positive effect on these events. we have noticed however they are more frequent on higher doses of effexor and prozac, as well as even small doses of opiates such as morphine, dilaudid, etc.

thanks for bringing this here.

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