What to expect when you’re not expecting

 

Heather Morrow experienced constant feelings of self-doubt and felt that due to living with epilepsy, it would make her a bad mother.

However, thanks to Epilepsy Scotland’s Wellbeing Service, Heather is now confident and looking forward to one day becoming a parent. Below she shares her experiences.

I started my epilepsy journey when I was 16 years old. At the time, I did not fully appreciate the profound impact that my diagnosis would have on my life. Also, the unexpected challenges that it would throw at me along the way.

At the time of my diagnosis, thinking about having children seemed so far in the future that I didn’t even consider that epilepsy could impact it. Now that I am 31 and married, I get asked the same question by anyone that I meet “when are you getting pregnant?“

I had discussed this with my husband and we are aware of the challenges that I may face during pregnancy. However, I didn’t realise how deep-rooted the emotions that I had surrounding children were.

I experienced constant feelings of self-doubt. Also, I felt I would be a bad mother to a child due to my illness. Even though I had not even been conceived yet!

I tried in vain to research about conceiving with epilepsy and desperately searched for help. I was looking for reassurance about a subject that my family and friends knew nothing about.

 

Reaching out to Epilepsy Scotland

After spiraling into a state of despair, I reached out to Epilepsy Scotland and explained my difficult situation.

I needed my current medications because I was having relatively frequent complex partial seizures. However, I was worried that being on my current treatment regime may impact the health of any future children that I would have.

Epilepsy Scotland’s friendly staff immediately put me at ease and referred me directly to their Wellbeing Advisor.

After an excellent visit, where I was given a safe space to discuss my concerns I was referred to a counsellor. My counsellor worked with me over 12 sessions focusing on person-centred therapy.Mother

This therapy works on the basis that you are the key to your own therapy.

Changing your thoughts and feelings about your situation and changing your thought process. How you can put coping mechanisms in place to help you overcome episodes of self-doubt.

At first, I was very sceptical of therapy and did not think it would be for me. As it turned out it was one of the best things I have ever done.

I had suppressed any positive thoughts and had programmed myself to only think of the negatives and worst-case scenarios regarding having a child.

A particular example was my fear that if I were to take my child to school, that they would be embarrassed that I was their mum if I were to have a seizure.

I had never told anyone how I felt and had never realised the impact this was having on all aspects of my health, prior to counselling.

I was putting so much pressure on myself that I was making myself ill. Over the months, I adopted a new relationship with myself and with the idea of being a mother.

 

Confident my child will be proud to have me as their mum

Therapy and having someone outwith your circle to talk to was a true blessing. Nurses and Doctors can give you all the information but if your mental health isn’t in a good place this will all seem irrelevant.

There isn’t a lot of support for people with epilepsy trying to get or thinking about getting pregnant. Having children is a huge responsibility and it is natural to want to to get it right. Especially when you suffer from epilepsy.

However, we feel the need to consume vast amounts of medical information that often skews towards the potential negatives. Awareness of the countless real-life positive examples is essential and can help you look forward to becoming a mother.

I now through the help of a fabulous counsellor can say “when” rather than “if” I become a mother – as I believe that I will.

I am still fully aware of the challenges that potentially could come on the way. However, I am now confident that my child will be proud to have me as their mum as I didn’t let self-doubt and fear get in the way.

Without the hard work and dedication of Epilepsy Scotland, this invaluable counselling service would not exist.  I cannot describe how grateful I am to both the charity and everyone that donates to this worthy cause.

I can now honestly say I haven’t and won’t look back and would urge anyone who is struggling to seek help in the comfort of such a wonderful organisation.

If you are going through similar experiences and would like to contact our wellbeing service for help and support, please email wellbeing@epilepsyscotland.org.uk or call 0141 427 4911.

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