Break the Stigma: Q&A on Anxiety-Induced Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy

The worst part was going back to school and everyone asking me if I was “the girl who had a seizure.”

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Nicolette Wescott, 22-year-old graduate student from Medford, New Jersey, has lived with anxiety-induced juvenile myoclonic epilepsy since she was 17-years-old. Read on to hear more about her journey with the illness, and be sure to check out her YouTube channel on epilepsy.

Explain one of your worst, most severe experiences with your illness.

I was so nervous for my first day of freshman year of high school that I didn’t eat or sleep for three days. I’m not sure what was making that anxious, but it was extreme torture.

The morning of my first day, everyone said I was out of it. But I remember absolutely nothing. I woke up in the hospital at 6 p.m. to several nurses around me. They told me that I had had a seizure in the middle of the hallway of Shawnee High School on the way to first period.

They kept me in the hospital for three days because that’s how long it took to fully regain my consciousness. I remember feeling confused and frustrated. The worst part was going back to school and everyone asking me if I was “the girl who had a seizure.”

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What My Fear of Flying Taught Me

Last week, I boarded a plane to Charleston for a bachelorette weekend. I’d been dreading the flight for months. Airplanes are not on my short list of comfort zones, so I try to avoid them at all costs.

Why can’t we just drive? I thought to myself, fancying the idea of a 12-hour car ride over a one-hour plane trip. But I had no choice. Either I went on the airplane, or I didn’t go at all.

So, without allowing myself to overthink, I made a promise to myself: I’d feel the fear of flying and do it anyway.

It seemed simple enough. And maybe it would be for most people. But I’m not most people, and I’m a bit more tormented by fear and obsessive thinking than the average person.

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Empathy Is Not Wrong, Society Is

People told me I wanted attention. That I craved sympathy. That I needed to be everyone’s best friend. That I was nosy and dramatic. Soon, these became things I told myself, too.

I’ve always lived my life in shades of gray, leaning neither toward black nor white. Life is too complicated to subject yourself to a one-track way of thinking.

But this isn’t always easy. From a very young age, I’ve felt a tremendous amount of pain for simply being human. And I always thought that I was wrong. I always thought that, somehow, I was actually a bad person for feeling things so deeply.

People told me I wanted attention. That I craved sympathy. That I needed to be everyone’s best friend. That I was nosy and dramatic. Soon, these became things I told myself, too.

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My OCD and Me: Treading Water in a Drought

I bet they don’t tell you in the movies, or on social media, or even in psychology class, that OCD can affect the way you love, too.

Many people assume they know what obsessive-compulsive disorder is: Making your bed a certain way every morning. Always being early to class or work. Organizing your toiletries so they’re color-coded in the bathroom closet.

But society doesn’t understand the things they cannot see – the things that people with OCD feel, the obsessive thoughts we cycle over, the guilt and shame we sleep with.

It started when I was in preschool, after a particularly traumatic experience with a boy who was three years older than me. He locked my bedroom door, tugged me into my own closet, and pulled my pants down.

He threatened me not to tell my parents what he made me do, and what he did to me. From that point forward, I felt I needed to tell them everything – every thought I had, even the crazy fleeting ones, the judgmental ones, the panicked ones.

“I just had a thought of putting a knife in your back,” I cried to my mom one evening. I was six.

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How To: Deal With Distressing yet Normal Doubts in a Relationship

It’s human nature for your mind to explore – but it’s what you do with these thoughts and emotions that defines you and your relationship.

My OCD has a warped way of interpreting matters in my life. For instance, when I grow comfortable in relationships, it tries to persuade me that I’m just not happy – that I don’t belong with this person. Because God forbid my world doesn’t revolve around him each second.

In the past, it even made me break up with or pull away from guys out of fear of hurting them or leading them on. Thankfully, those mishaps led me to where I am today – with a man who understands these intrusive thoughts as much as I do now.

I’m glad I recognized this as a symptom of OCD (and simply being human) before I allowed it to destroy my current relationship. I must admit, it’s brought me close to a breaking point; and at times, I even think I’m better off alone because I can’t deal with the torment my mind endures.

The guilt. The shame. The terror for having one fleeting thought.

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My OCD and Me: Why am I so Weak?

These past few weeks have been tough. Scratch that. My entire life has been tough. But whose isn’t?

In July, I went to a concert to see Panic! At The Disco and Weezer, and after eating and drinking all night, I didn’t feel too well. My stomach was in so much pain that as soon as I got home, I collapsed onto the floor in the hallway upstairs, sprawled out on my laundry I was supposed to put away earlier. I couldn’t move without a dizzy spell and felt like I was somehow months pregnant from the bloating in my stomach. Suddenly, my heart dropped.

I hate throwing up more than most things in this world. It’s remained one of my phobias since the first grade, right before I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Now, 15 years later, I still cringe at the thought.

So when I felt that intense nausea and pain while lying on my floor, I panicked. I really, truly panicked. I ran up and down the stairs, pacing and crying and pulling at my hair, yelling at my parents that I felt sick, gagging over the toilet, dry-heaving for fifteen minutes before finally throwing up my entire night in the bathroom sink downstairs.

That was all it took to send me into a downward spiral.

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6 Reasons to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

“You care so much about other people’s opinions and perceptions of you that you often lose sight of yourself and your own goals.”

I woke up the other morning feeling extra self-conscious. I skipped the gym all week because I was so focused on my academics and felt sick. I slept too late and had plans to go out, so there was another gym session out of the window. Of course, I could’ve made time if I really wanted to; but I was so looking forward to adventuring and spending some time in the sun that I decided not to–again.

Now, I usually make certain I go to the gym at least four to five days a week. So naturally, I was feeling guilty and gross for skipping yet again. Not only that, but every time I opened my Instagram, I saw another skinny girl with a perfectly flat stomach and toned everything, a girl who I couldn’t help but be jealous of–which I hate admitting to.

I struggle in this area–comparing myself to others. Whether it’s about my physical appearance, like my hair, body, skin, whatever, or about my personality, intellect, interests, I always, always, always compare myself. It’s such a terrible habit to fall in to, but a common one at that.

Here are 6 reasons to stop comparing yourself to others:

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