Epilepsy Blog Relay: Former Christian Fundamentalist on Epilepsy and the Bible

This post is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay™ which will run from March 1 through March 31. Follow along!

Epilepsy and the Bible

For most of its long history, epilepsy was, and sometimes still is, viewed by Western religious institutions as caused by demon possession. The Biblical connection between epilepsy and demon possession is based on a passage from the New Testament, Mark 6:13. There are other passages in Matthew 17 and Mark 9 that are also cited as proof that epilepsy is a demonic possession.

I find it surprising that this interpretation of scripture is still in use, but by doing a Google search on the words “bible verses about epilepsy” I found a number of websites that provide detailed information about how to interpret Bible verses to prove that epilepsy is caused by demon possession. There are also a number of online training courses available that offer classes on how to stop seizures using scriptural authority and prayer to cast out demons. The websites I found are current and in use as of now, 2019.


Read more stories by Elaine

Suicide and the stigma of epilepsy

Using poetry to cope with TLE


When outdated ideas threaten health

The language in the Bible verses that are said to be useful for stopping seizures is disturbing to me because it describes people with epilepsy as having a “foul spirit,” a “dumb spirit,” a “deaf spirit” (Mark 9), “unclean spirit,” (Luke 9).
It is not clear to me that any of these New Testament verses are an accurate description of epilepsy or ever were. The writers of the Gospels wrote in good faith with the knowledge that was available at the time, but new knowledge is available now. I do not have a foul, dumb, deaf, or unclean spirit. I have a medical condition that can be addressed by knowledge gained from current medical research. To deliberately persist in using ineffective, outdated ideas about casting out demons as a substitute for effective medical care is irresponsible and unethical.

Steven Waterhouse is a Christian minister with experience in helping families understand how to apply Bible verses in a compassionate way that combines both Bible truth and medical treatment without casting out demons. In his book, Strength for God’s People, Waterhouse writes, “Through ignorance of medicine, clergy and church members run the risk of misapplying the Bible and harming innocent people in the process. Theologians, ministers and church members must understand a human problem accurately before applying the Bible to it. Failures to understand medical problems can lead to blunders in ministry.”

Truth that matters

When I was a Christian fundamentalist, I took the Bible literally word for word believing that all that mattered was the “truth” of God’s Word. I believed that as long as I was in God’s “truth,” I was OK. As a result of the life disruptions that I experienced because of a lack of accurate medical diagnosis for epilepsy, I began to learn that sometimes the only “truth” that matters is my “truth.” Using my own eyes and ears and not the lens of distorted Bible verses taken literally, I learned to not be afraid of being punished by God for seeking help from “secular” doctors and medicine. When I learned that I had a medical condition my mind was healed from the fear that I was sinful and being punished by God for leaving God’s “truth.” Then my body could heal, too.

A Proposal for Healing

An exaggeration of fear finds harmony in
An exaggeration of beauty.

Unsettled restlessness can learn to
Rest by the green springs of wine and hope.

Deathly terror can learn to
Drink flowing waters and live.

Broken trust can understand that
The wise and healing mother bakes bread.

The voiceless void of regression can produce one sound-
“I am not forsaken, I am not alone.”

My leaden body, filled with doubt and dread,
Will dance beyond gravity transcending the clouds.

An exaggeration of fear finds harmony in
An exaggeration of beauty.

by Elaine M. Reeves

 


NEXT UP: Be sure to check out the next post by Stephen at livingwellwithepilepsy.com for more on epilepsy awareness. You can check out any of the Epilepsy Blog Relay posts you may have missed.

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Epilepsy Blog Relay: Dave shares his story as a father of a child with a disability

This post is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay™ which will run from March 1 through March 31. Follow along!

Dave is the father of an energetic, hockey-loving son who has refractory epilepsy. On his blog, www.epilepsydad.com, he shares his experiences as the father of a child with a disability in hopes that his words help other people who are on a similar journey. By sharing his story, Dave hopes to reach out to other parents of children with special needs to let them know that they are not alone. Below is an excerpt from one of his latest posts:

Excerpt from “A Movie Script Ending”

Our journey with epilepsy has the makings of a movie.

It has the time before. The time before epilepsy. The time before seizures. The time before medication, and side effects, and surgery.

It has the inciting event. The first seizure in the lobby of the arcade. The second seizure onboard an airplane. The “ticks” that turned out to be seizures that snowballed into status epilepticus and months in the hospital. The days when my son couldn’t talk or move. The night when my son was surrounded by a team of doctors trying to save his life.

It has an enemy and its name is Epilepsy.

READ MORE

NEXT UP: Be sure to check out the next post by Elaine at livingwellwithepilepsy.com for more on epilepsy awareness. You can check out any of the Epilepsy Blog Relay posts you may have missed.

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Epilepsy Blog Relay: Seizures, pregnancy and epilepsy in real life

This post is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay™ which will run from March 1 through March 31. Follow along!

I want to share a story about my experience with pregnancy and epilepsy. I have three children, ages 12, 4, and 2. I call this stage “toddlers and teenagers”… maybe one day I will write a book!

Seizure during pregnancy

I’ve had Epilepsy my entire life. However, I went 17 years seizure free, so doctors thought I outgrew it. Needless to say, when I was 21 and pregnant, I didn’t share that information with anyone. I had a breakthrough seizure when I was 3 months pregnant, and life as I knew it changed. I lost my job, I gained more weight than I should have because of the medicine, I couldn’t drive…. it was mentally an awful time in my life. However, I took my medicine like a good girl, was able to hitch rides my senior year of college and graduate with a Bachelor’s degree a few months later… and later maintained seizure “freedom” for 5 years.


Related: Paula’s Story: Sage advice from a mom with epilepsy


Life in progress

In 2011, I started a blog that was about my running evolution, life as a single mom, and my journey with epilepsy when it reared its ugly head again with cluster seizures. At the time I was off medicine again, since it had been a substantial amount of time in between seizures. My neurologist prescribed medication again and I was to not give myself permission to take myself off it unless I had a doctor’s approval.

Fast forward to 2014, another seizure when pregnant with my second child. I had previously argued with my doctor about not needing to proactively take a Class D medicine that could potentially harm my unborn child.

I thought I had it all under control.


Related: Tips to feel less isolated and alone after an epilepsy diagnosis


Time for us to speak up

At the time I was going through a nasty situation where my seizure disorder was being used against me. Seizures are still so taboo and people are uneducated about epilepsy.

It’s not the fault of people not affected – as a community, we just don’t talk about it. Or when we do… it is a never-ending re-posting of the same statistics, same ‘celebrities’ that have this disorder as well, or the same negativity that surrounds our life’s from having restrictions (Not driving, medicine side effects, feeling isolated). Thankfully I had a strong education and knew how to advocate for myself, and an amazing support team, so everything unfolded the way it was supposed to.


Related: Epilepsy Blog Relay: Ways to help with medication costs


The right doctor makes all the difference

In 2015, I was pregnant with my third child and decided to continue my medicine but find the RIGHT doctor who would walk with me through this pregnancy journey. I sure did, and still see him every year. This pregnancy was seizure free, and I have been seizure free for over 5 years. My doctor scheduled monthly lab-work, monthly EEGs, and took excellent care of me while collaborating with my OBGYN to give me the best care.

I was honestly worried about having a seizure during that pregnancy, since it happened with my other two… but it goes to show that if you have the right medical care, amazing things can happen. You cannot control everything, but having superheroes in your corner will encourage you that you CAN have children with Epilepsy.

Becoming mom with epilepsy

If you want to have children, I encourage you do find the right doctor. Listen to them. Take their advice seriously and know that they have your best interest in mind. Seizures suck, but your medical care doesn’t have too.


NEXT UP: Be sure to check out the next post by Dave at livingwellwithepilepsy.com for more on epilepsy awareness. You can check out any of the Epilepsy Blog Relay posts you may have missed.

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Epilepsy Blog Relay: Kat’s take on medical marijuana and epilepsy

This post is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay™ which will run from March 1 through March 31. Follow along!

Kat’s Blog

Kat’s Temporal Lobe Diaries is a blog by Kathryn Slagle, formerly known as Kat’s Faerie Tales. She covers personal issues including epilepsy and medical marijuana. Kathryn was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy in 1997. She has been a vocal advocate since then. Kathryn lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, son, and two cats. She writes about her life with seizures, cannabis, and much more.

Medicated

“Medicated” is about the effects epilepsy and seizure meds have on memory and daily living. Kathryn shares personal anecdotes about her seizures and memory loss. It includes a candid discussion about medical marijuana as a treatment for epilepsy. Medical marijuana has drastically reduced the amount of seizures Kathryn has. Despite marijuana’s reputation for causing short-term memory loss, it helps control her seizures which reduces confusion and memory loss for Kathryn. This blog is about the fine line of hope and fear one must walk when living with seizures. That includes taking anti-epilepsy meds, vitamins, and cannabis.

READ MORE

NEXT UP: Be sure to check out the next post by Jamie at livingwellwithepilepsy.com for more on epilepsy awareness. You can check out any of the Epilepsy Blog Relay posts you may have missed.

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