Online Christian Counseling and Opinion

Archive for September, 2018

Just when you thought it was safe

Epilepsy in Plain Sight

Just when you thought it was safe

A personal epilepsy experience by Dr. Lee Outlaw

I am taking a short break from my six part Epilepsy series, “Six often overlooked associated conditions of Epilepsy” to write a special piece on my most recent experience as an epileptic.

I want every epileptic to know that I am not just a Christian Counselor and Psychologist; I am a real life epileptic. Although, my epilepsy is controlled fairly well, like you, I have my epileptic moments and just when I thought it was safe…, EPILEPSY reared its ugly head.

I was driving home (yes I drive) from a meeting feeling perfectly fine when suddenly out of nowhere I was hit with the ugly fist of a full blown Epileptic aura; not a seizure mind you but the next worst thing. I had taken my morning dosage of Depakote and CBD and had gotten my full 8 hours sleep. Apart from the slight stress of the drive itself, there was absolutely nothing to trigger an aura.

It was a very frustrating experience. Although I had had minor auras, this was the first major aura in ten years and that aura led to a major Grand Mal seizure; needless to say I was scared.

The aura was so intense, I had to pull over onto the frontage road from the freeway and eventually I pulled into a convenience store and purchased a diet cola. I finally felt I had walked the aura off well enough that I had control and drove on home; unfortunately the aura wasn’t over.

As I reached my home, I became extremely tired (every epileptic knows that severe tired feeling) and I practically fell out of my van. I made it inside the house and collapsed into my recliner where I remained fading in and out of consciousness for the next eight hours. I had no doubt as to what was happening so I finally took an extra dose of Depakote and ultimately made it to bed.

I woke up Saturday morning and felt some better but I knew things still weren’t right. As usual I took my Depakote and later CBD. I had a light breakfast but the aura remained; not as bad as the previous day but it was bad.

For those of you who might have never experienced an intense epileptic aura, here is what I (and many others) experienced:

It was as though I became semi-conscious, walking around in a hazy light yellow (some experience other colors but mine has always been yellow) fog (unable to focus or concentrate) intermittent déjàvu, weird smells (I smelled cigarette and cigar smoke even though no one in my home smokes and nobody is allowed to smoke in the house) and a thousand crickets in my head (some claim to hear strange sounds or music)(tinnitus/ringing in my ears). I also experienced a light head ache.

As a psychologist I need to point out here that someone experiencing a stroke can have a similar pre-stroke experience. Unless you have had an intense aura and discussed it with your neurologist (even if you are an epileptic) and have such an experience as I have described, you should call 911 immediately; it could be the difference between life and death.

Every epileptic’s aura experience is different but that was my most recent.

I continued to take my Depakote and CBD throughout the day and even an extra half dose of Depakote in the afternoon as my neurologist had previously directed when I experience an intense aura.

The aura seemed to decrease throughout the afternoon until I went to bed that evening.

Around 4:30 am Sunday morning, it happened, I had a “night (Nocturnal) seizure”; I woke up consciously shaking having bitten both my right side tongue and upper and lower lips. My tongue was bitten severely and outer lower lip bite actually bled.

The good news as most of us as epileptics know is that after the night seizure I am feeling much better and am nearly back to normal.

Keep in mind, increasing numbers of neurologist and researchers believe the epileptic aura is actually a simple partial seizure. Regardless, the aura for most of us as epileptics is a horrible experience.

I thank God for a good neurology team, support team which includes my family, great anti-seizure meds and prayer.

I am also thankful for the U.S. Congress having legalized CBD oil in all 50 states and the Texas State Legislature having legalized Low THC/CBD Cannabinol for use by Epileptics. I believe sincerely, had I not been taking CBD, my aura and seizure would have been much greater.

For all epileptics and non-epileptics alike, please remember that epilepsy is not a disease (although since 2014, many researchers have disagreed); it is a neurological disorder. At present there is no known cure and epilepsy does not get better (although most of us agree it is becoming easier to control); it is always there. But with proper care and support it is possible to live a relatively normal life.

May God bless every epileptic and their families and may God give wisdom to epileptic researchers as they seek a cure.

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

 

 

What’s wrong with people? Part 3

Part 3 of A Seven Part Series on Why People Do What They Do

PART 3


People tend to care more about themselves than the greater good of others


As we continue to investigate this “social-psychological” problem of “What’s wrong with people?”, it has become evident to many in both mental health and pastoral care that people appear more self-centered than at any time in history.

It seems that in western civilization especially, we have become a “me first” society; this is not to disparage President Trump’s America First agenda which has been sorely needed. On the world stage, the United States has been and continues to be the most caring and giving nation in the world. On an individual basis, however, people, in general, seem increasingly less concerned for their fellow man and more concerned about themselves.

This “Me, me, me” attitude has developed an increase by smaller side culture groups (too numerous to mention) promoting their cause(s) in such great emphasis that their particular cause and need seems far greater than what it is in actuality.

The result is very “in your face” and sometimes profane and vulgar bumper or rear window stickers used to intimidate; the intention is usually to emphasize, “I’m more important than you” or “My cause is greater than yours”.

We used to be a “Good neighbor” society. New neighbors were welcomed to our neighborhoods, villages or towns. If someone moved in next door to us, we introduced ourselves; made a cake or casserole and let them know we were there “for them” should we be needed. This usually resulted in men exchanging tools needed for repairs and children playing together.

In the current trend of “Me, me, me” and self-gratification, there is little if any concern or even acknowledgment for our neighbors or anyone else. This attitude results in people shoving or stealing someone’s place in line, needlessly cutting in and out of traffic, not obeying traffic signs and failing in general to acknowledge our own bad behavior.

In essence, we have become a Narcissistic personality disorder society.

I had a Psychiatrist friend who used to say; almost every patient he saw had Narcissistic personality tendencies. My experience as a psychologist was very similar and we would often have long discussions about this very serious subject and bear in mind, this is a serious subject.

Since most murderers, rapist, and thieves are usually diagnosed as a narcissist, just imagine the problem of an entire society with this disorder; it certainly helps to answer the question of “What is wrong with people?”

The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) , which is often utilized by most of us as mental health professionals to diagnose psychological disorders, suggests that narcissistic personality disorder causes significant impairments in personality in terms of functioning and is accompanied by a number of pathological personality traits or symptoms (which will be mentioned later).

Although it is estimated by the National Institute of Mental Health that only one percent of those diagnosed with personality disorders actually have Narcissistic personality disorder, it is important to point out that less than ten percent of the population actually receive any actual mental health treatment (even though nearly fifty percent have enquired at some point about professional counseling). This brings to question such a low estimate of those with an actual Narcissistic personality disorder.

Most of us in professional mental health agree the problem is far greater than one percent.

Regardless of the percentage, the problem is real and increasingly affects our society; so what do we do?

First of all, never hesitate to obtain professional psychological help.

Here are some of the symptoms of a Narcissistic personality disorder:

  • An exaggerated sense of their abilities and accomplishments
  • Constantly seeking attention, affirmation, and praise
  • A belief that he or she is unique or “special” and should only associate with “like-kind”
  • Persistent fantasies about attaining success and power
  • Exploiting other people for personal gain
  • A sense of entitlement and expectation of special treatment
  • A preoccupation with power or success
  • Feeling envious of others, or believing that others are envious of him or her
  • A lack of empathy for others

If you or someone you know demonstrates any of these traits, Narcissistic personality disorder might be the problem and it is not to be taken lightly.  Seeking professional help is essential and can make a difference.

There is good news,  many counseling and psychotherapeutic techniques have been proven effective in the treatment of Narcissistic personality disorder.

These treatments include:

  1. Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  2. Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  3. Psychotropic medications

There are also the words of Jesus from the New Testament, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,” Matthew 7:12.

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

Six overlooked conditions of Epilepsy

MLREPIL (Large)Six overlooked conditions of Epilepsy

 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

As I begin the new section of Drtruthman Christian Counseling and Opinion dedicated to Epilepsy titled, “Epilepsy in plain sight”, I will attempt to address areas of this neurological condition which are usually obvious but often neglected in general epilepsy diagnosis and discussion.

These associate conditions include:

  1. Heightened emotions
  2. Decreased touch sensitivity (aka ”Depakote dropsy”)
  3. Increased or decreased libido
  4. Verbal rambling
  5. Momentary memory loss
  6. OCS ( a type of OCD)

Crying man

Heightened emotions

Very few epileptics ever talk about this subject with either their support team or their neurologist; especially men. It usually happens while watching a movie or television program and you find yourself suddenly caught up in the movie and become either extremely angry or crying like a baby with usually more of the latter.

This Pseudobulbar affect (or more commonly known as PBA), or emotional incontinence, is a type of emotional disturbance characterized by uncontrollable episodes of crying and/or laughing, or other emotional displays. PBA occurs as secondary to an existing neurologic disorder or brain injury. Although more commonly associated with Parkinson, MS and stroke victims, PBA has become increasingly reported among epileptics; possibly because of new epilepsy medications or simply because patients haven’t always reported the condition.

These uncontrollable episodes of crying and/or laughing, or other emotional displays seem to happen at the most inopportune times.  It happens at family events, church, patriotic events and even for no reason at all. I have found myself sometime blubbering like a baby just hearing someone pray or me giving the family Thanksgiving blessing or my favorite sports team winning.

There doesn’t have to be any rhyme or reason for these heightened emotions occurring.

I do know this; I am a genetic, grand general epileptic. I was born with epilepsy and I can have any kind of seizure at any time but my problem with heightened emotions didn’t start until I was put on anti-seizure medication in 1999 and I have been on three different medications.

It depends on your anti-seizure medication as to the extent of the increase in your emotions being heightened but from the epileptics I have professionally counseled over the years it seems to happen to all of us as epileptics.

It doesn’t have to be just anger or sorrowful emotions either; it can also be manic emotion such as uncontrollable laughter, frivolity and whimsical behavior.

At this point, you have to be careful should you decide to report this to your neurologist, GP or Psychotherapist; the reason being that heightened manic emotions can also mask epilepsy in some psychotic disorders such as certain types of Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

With regard to schizophrenia there are two common sub-types which would seem to mimic The Pseudobulbar affect:  1) neophrenia; a deranged neurosis or psychosis which has often been associated with early onset schizophrenia where an individual finds everything funny and laughs sometimes uncontrollably and 2) hebephrenia; a syndrome characterized by shallow and inappropriate giggling (or laughing), and silly regressive behavior and mannerisms; this has now been renamed disorganized schizophrenia.

Another important fact to remember is that most ant-seizure medications are also used for controlling certain types of Bipolar and schizophrenic behavior.  As a result, there is some indication that the conditions these medications help to control in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia might actually have the reverse effect on epileptics causing medical and mental health professionals to overlook the epilepsy connection and jump right to the neurotic and psychotic diagnostic categories.

Even though it can be a somewhat frightening thought to have your epilepsy re-diagnosed as a psychological disorder, it is still always best to consult your neurologist with concerns about heightened emotions. It might be as simple as changing your medication dosage or even changing your anti-seizure medication completely.

But once again, with regard to the information provided, choose your words carefully.

Closely associated with an epileptic’s heightened emotions is the second condition of Decreased touch sensitivity (aka ”Depakote dropsy”) which will be discussed in the next article of “Epilepsy in plain sight”.

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD