“…I’m ten years old, and it’s happening again. Another seizure and there’s nothing I can do. Unwillingly, I retreat into the bubble once more… safe and secure inside this space while my brain lets go, throws its angry tantrum, spits at the world, then subsides. My head spins, I am filled with a dizzy feeling that my body is turning inside out yet, all around me is perfectly still — the room, the chair, the sunlight through the window and my mother sitting on the edge of her seat, so quiet, so watchful, so frightened to lose me, unable to reach me inside of my strong but invisible and oh, so surreal dome. “Shhh!” I say to my mother, the room — everything has to be quiet. I have to concentrate, follow my brain on its terrible rampage or else I could be lost. The visions, the dream I can never remember plays out in my mind as if it were real… me, Captain Hook, a large, frightening man, turning to me, leering and — what? I am terrified, turning my back in my mind, just in my mind, because here in the bubble all must be still, must be quiet, must be small….”
(excerpt from “The Trauma Brain Project”)
I was diagnosed with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy in 1967 — long before PTSD had been named, before anyone knew what Trauma Brain was or that it could look like Epilepsy. Yet still, today, as Patricia Gibson, Associate Professor of Neurology at Wake Forest Medical tells us: “up to 50% of patients with intractable seizures being seen in epilepsy monitoring units are suffering from non-epileptic seizures, the source of which, for many, is sexual and physical abuse, which can cause lasting effects on the brain.”
In my case, I was well into my 50s before I began to remember — well, maybe “remember” is too strong a word — when I got sick enough to make a connection. Were the recurring sinus and oral infections I was experiencing now, for which my body rejected every antibiotic, connected to the “seizures” of my childhood, for which my body rejected every anticonvulsant? Was there something my body was trying to say? There had been other childhood signs that went unnoticed: frequent headaches and nausea, paralyzing migraines that numbed my arms and legs; psoriasis that broke out over my face and scalp so thickly that I lost hair; recurring nightmares, panic attacks, the constant wondering what “normal” was (I wonder still) —and for what? Then I stumbled into somatic trauma therapy, which gave me back my body and my life, which journey is the subject of the play that ensued.
My healing is an ongoing process, but one that is far from the downward spiral of debilitating symptoms I had lived with for so long, with the shadowy, half-memories that hovered over my life. I know, at 60, that I can’t go back and retrieve what was lost, but thanks to the miracle of SE therapy, I CAN go forward now. That has made all the difference.
Dayle Ann Hunt, Playwright
The Trauma Brain Project