Bad Memory, spaciness, and depression.. how should i fix these?


im 17 going onto 18 soon.. the only time i had ever taken a real grand mal seizure in my life was in first grade (thank god). However, I am the spaciest kid alive, as everyone tells me. My memory is completely fried (as people constantly make fun of me for it), my grades have dropped tremendously, i have extreme mood swings, i feel as though i am constantly changing personalities to find out who i am, or to get others to like me (sometimes i swear i have social anxiety). My doctor confirmed that i have depression, as every day is a stuggle and i am constantly, and i mean constantly, hating myself. overall, are these typical side effects of epilepsy? and if so, i dont understand as to why they arent going away with the medication i am taking... i am taking lamotrigene and i can see absolutely no difference... however, when i dont take it, i do get extreme de ja vu, and nausia after.. (which my doctor cant really understand as to why i get these..) Overall, do you think i am forever going to be like this? has seizures officially damaged my brain forever? do you think it would almost be better to switch to an anti-deppresant?


Re: Bad Memory, spaciness, and depression

Ok...let's sart with 1 thing at a time...

DRUGS -- How high a dose of lamotrigene do you take?  The lowest dose is an anti-depressant..the next level is an anti-seizure med...and the highest dose is for bi-polar people.  Perhpas you need to up your dose if you're on a low level.  I take 200MG of lamotrigene in the AM (it made me crazy hyper in the PM!)  I also supplement that with Klonopin (another anti-anxiety, anti-seizure drug) 0.5MG in the AM and 1.00 in the evening.  Plus I take Effexor for clinical depression.

DEPRESSION -- One study stated that 80% of the patients with epilepsy were also diagnosed as having a depressive disorder. Upwards of 60% of these individuals had a history of significant episodes of depression.  And 10-32% experience symptoms of anxiety.   You're NOT alone.


1. Keep a journal/calendar or an electronic organizer to remind yourself of important appointments, meetings, or occasions or events.  

2. Take you meds at the same time every day – a pill organizer is very helpful.  And put them someplace where they are clearly visible -- your bathroom sink, kitchen table, etc.  Create a daily routine and if you have to take meds in the middle of the day, set the alarm on your watch, clock or cell phone to remind you.

3. Keep a daily diary…one for seizures and one to remember what you did that day.  You might find an interesting correlation between the two.

4. Put your important stuff (like keys, wallet, etc.) in the same place every day. 

5. Don’t forget about “to do” lists.

6. If you want to remember something before going out, stick a Post-It note on the door.  (Actually, I have them everywhere except my forehead!)

7. Keep a notepad with you. Write down things you want to remember.  It worked in school (I've had epilepsy for 40+myears) It worked in school and it still works now.

8. Focus and concentrate.  Skip the multi-tasking, it just leads to brain overload.

9. Minimize distractions.  Start slow.  If you’re learning something new, try repetition before you move on to the next step.

10. If you lose a word in conversation, just say so.  I have no pride.  I say, “I can’t find the word, any ideas?”

11. Use mnemonic strategies to help you remember. For example, try visualization, associating pictures with people’s names, using rhymes to remember important words.  (It works for me wonderfully.  And when I get really desperate, I go through the alphabet!)

12. If you can’t find  something, try not to stress out. The more you try to remember, the less likely you will.  Retrace your thoughts or steps. You’ll figure it out in time.  (Probably at 2:00 in the morning.  That’s why I keep a pad by my bed and a flashlight pen.)

13. When driving, plan ahead.  Try to remember landmarks if it’s someplace familiar. Keep directions in your car.  Look it up on map quest first.  Or get a talking navigator for your car. (That’s been my savior.  Sometimes I can’t even remember the way to my best friend’s house.  And she’s lived there fior 22 years!) If all else fails, stop and get directions and write them down).

14. Challenge yourself.  Keep your mind active.  Learn a new word every day, read, try crossword puzzles, strategic games, scrabble, whatever you find fun.

15. Relax!     Phylis Feiner Johnson

Re: Bad Memory, spaciness, and depression

this was EXTREMELY helpful, really.. yes, im gonna try and see what dosage is (cause i honestly dont know).. and talk to my doctor as to whether it should be higher.. however, im a little confused.. so a low dosage is anti-depressant, while a higher dosage is anti-seizure.. wouldnt it still be an anti-depressant still even though your taking a higher dosage? why would it just completely switch to an anti-seizure.. wouldnt it just be both? &plus, the info you gave at the end was so helpful, in that its nice to know that im not the only one who gets these symptoms.. i cannot thank you enough, i feel as though your long description and response felt like a was talking to my doctor!

i will say though, i have another question.. im curious as to why im experiencing all these symptoms but dont take grand mal seizures? i feel like if im this effected by epilepsy, i should be taking seizures.... is my brain still taking seizures, just not grand mal ones?

Re: Bad Memory, spaciness, and depression


Don't know that I can answer the last part of your email but I agree the advice on memory tricks was very helpful to me too. I struggle with that now.

I had grandmals from ages 13-17 (and again now at age 46 and 48).  The seizures , side effects and other issues affected my self esteem in a horrible way. I felt like a freak, I hated myself, felt like a defective creature instead of a person who was struggling with a medical issue. I really feel your pain in terms of what you are going through there.  I wish I knew what to say to help you love and accept yourself. It took me many years and a bad marriage (probably due at least in part to not feeling like I deserved a loving partner). I truly hope you don't have to go through that too. Remember that there are a lot of people struggling with physical and other disorders. Just because you don't know about it, it doesn't mean that half of more of your classmates aren't struggling now (or will struggle later) with epilepsy, bipolar, cancer, body image issues etc... the list goes on). Try to remember to give yourself the same kind of compassion you would give to another person who was struggling. Many of us would give way more compassion to a stranger with epilepsy or depression than we would ever give ourselves. Some of our depression issues come with the difficulty dealing with epilepsy and  how we  fear others may perceive us, some may come from the damage from seizures or from side effects of meds and it may be nearly impossible to figure out what part of depression comes from what source...very frustrating.

What helps me is writing down an affirmation (mine is Today will be a great day!) 10 times in the morning. Doesn't make every day great but it helps me to see even a teeny bit of great (pretty cloudless day, a compliment, a funny email, a good grade in something) in every day..Even crappy days often have something good you can find if you are training yourself to look for that...If  you struggle with depression, the straining to look for good can take effort but it is worth it. Positive reading, reducing caffeine (please no Red Bulls), sugar or other foods that trigger seizures or depression in you (you are too young to drink but if you are drinking, keep in mind it takes its toll on your nervous system and depression...I did it too so I can't preach not to, only to be aware of the  price you pay if you do it).  Also I reduce stressful tv shows, news before bedtime and negative friends. It may not work and you may still need an antidepressant, that is a decision for you and your doc. But doing your best to be proactively positive can reduce  your need for extra meds (the more meds, the more danger of interactions, side effects etc...some drugs may be necessary but do what you can naturally to reduce them if you can) and at the very least make the meds you do have to be on, as effective as they can be. But most important. Learn to love yourself. I don't even know you and I love you and feel compassion for your struggle since I have been there. Please write  back and share how you are doing or feel free to "friend" me or say hi if you see me in the chat room. I'm old enough to be your mom but I still care about you and will be sending you positive thoughts!



Re: Bad Memory, spaciness, and depression

Hi Barb G,

I would like to be added to your friend list. I'm 49 and have partial complex seizures.  I'm still learning how to use this site. I play the guitar, would like to right songs,just don't want them to be too depressing. Currently not working due to condition and don't want to be a housewife, it's not me. Hope we can chat sometime.


Re: Bad Memory, spaciness, and depression

I agree I have decided to be a volunteer at a wild animal vet that deals with birds, squirrels, racoons, bats. What they need are calm voices to speak to animals while they working with them and fixing cages that are calm.  I thought I would give it a try.  My gm's are under control but meds have slowed me down.

Re: Bad Memory, spaciness, and depression


Of course you can be my friend! I love friends!! I am 48 now. I assume from your name that you are a teacher by profession (even if not currently working). My mother was a kindergarten teacher for about 30 years. My dad worked for the government but taught high school math before that and college math in the evenings when I was older to help pay for private high school and college. I also have an uncle and aunt who are teachers.

My seizures so far have been grand mal which was the only kind I really knew about but the more I read on this site, the more I learn and wonder if I have not had other types of seizures but just been unaware of them. I had seizures as a teen from ages 13-17. Controlled by meds from ages 17-30. No seizures or meds from ages 30-46 then Wow, back come the seizures and I am reliving my teens (UGH). I had one 2 years ago and one in May. Now I am on Keppra and hopefully will have no more.  I just found this website in May or June and am still figuring it out myself (am technologically challenged so it takes me a while) plus I have a new laptop so am adjusting to that too.

If you want to chat outside this site, my email is so feel free to say hi, just put your name in the subject line so I don't think its spam and delete you! Gotta go balance my checkbook (UGH, a special chore since the Keppra seems to affect my attention and I already hate to do it). Never thought I would rather clean the toilet than balance my checkbook but here we is funny sometimes. Have a great day!



Re: Bad Memory, spaciness, and depression

You're quite right.  As your dose of the  lamotrigene increases, it acts as BOTH an anti-depressant and an anti-epilepsy med.

Also, not all seizures are grand mals.  For a list of seizure types, go to the orange boxes on the left.  Click on "All about Epilepsy and Seizures" and then click on "Types of Seizures."  This website has a wealth of information.  You just have to figure out how to navigate it.  (It took me a while!)

As for when you see your doc, keep these tips in mind...

Be Prepared

Make sure you keep a daily seizure diary, noting your sleep patterns, what you eat, how you feel, any auras or triggers that you can identify..  Each time a seizure occurs, write down the time, the type of seizure it was and how long it lasted. Write down any major stresses or recent life changes that could trigger seizure activity. All of this can help your doc can get a better idea of what’s going on with you.  

Bring along a family member or friend to help describe your seizures or to take notes during visits to your doctor.  They can offer support and a second pair of ears.

 Let your doc know how you’re responding to your current medications.  Be sure to share your concerns about any side effects, drug reactions, behavior changes, physical changes, trouble sleeping, loss of memory, or even brain fog.  

Come armed with questions Preparing a list of questions in advance will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. List your questions and the doctor’s answers from most important to least important in case time runs out. Be persistent in asking your questions until you fully understand the explanation.  If you don’t understand a diagnosis or treatment, ask more questions -- take more notes.

Make sure you understand the script and whether name brand or generic will make a difference to your condition.  And make sure you know exactly what the doctor wants you to do before you leave the office.

Ask about follow-up and get a contact number so if you happen to think of more questions, or forgot something the doctor told you, you can call the office immediately and request the information.

Also, I think Barb G. had some excellent points about being positive.  When I was in rehab (trust me, suicide is not a pretty place to be) there was this wonderful woman who instilled in us: "Gratitude is the additude."  Everyday, I list 5-10 things I'm greateful for.  Some can be deep, emotional thoughts.  Other's can be like the ones on my list today:

1. My cousin's generous loan of her beach house
2. Our first vacation in 3 years
3. Sun and sea
4. Watching Joshua getting married
5. Seeing all of my dear friends at a joyous event! 

Just the effort and the thinking process helps you see things in a better light.  Try it.  If you want a little inspiration, go to my website and take a look at the "Gratitude is the Attitude" thread.  And feel free to chime in!!!  ;-)     Phylis Feiner Johnson

Re: Bad Memory, spaciness, and depression


It is quite right, we should meet doctors "armed" with questions. I always try to do.  But what about if you are having so much medicine, that you can´t think anymore, you can not use your brain, and talk to the doctor.  Tell him how you are. feeling..  I know people who cannot do so, because of too much AED´s ... It  is very nessecary,for the doctors also to hear how it works on you ., But often the medicine does as much bad for us as "good",   I hate AED´s myself, and I am waiting for better advice for us