Emily and Jeanine have a special bond, and not only as sisters. They both benefitted from the care of the Somatic Rehab Clinic. In early 2018, Emily was at home when suddenly she started twitching and shaking. They took her to their local hospital in Three Hills where doctors couldn’t find anything wrong. The family decided to take her to the Alberta Children’s Hospital for an EEG anyway. And their instinct to do so was right. The EEG found no abnormal activity in her brain when she was having a physical seizure and she was diagnosed with Psychogenetic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES).
She was referred to the Somatic Rehab Clinic, a specialized mental and physical health clinic, and learned these physical seizures were a result of emotional trauma and bullying she experienced as a child. When the back-and-forth signals connecting the brain and body aren’t working well together or talking to each other properly, a strong emotion – stress, anxiety, sadness – or a bad memory can overwhelm the brain. This causes feelings/stress to manifest in physical ways – seizures, in Emily’s case. Following a year of treatments, her seizures had completely disappeared. She was equipped with the knowledge of her mind-body connection and techniques to cope with her mental health symptoms.
Then, a year later, Jeanine also began experiencing seizures. One happened while she was playing in a basketball game and suddenly fell to the ground. Then a month later, Jeanine suffered another seizure in the school hallway. Rather than taking her to their local hospital, this time her parents took her straight to the Alberta Children’s Hospital, where she was booked for an EEG for the following week.
Days later, she had another seizure at home that lasted more than two hours. Fortunately, the EEG at the Children’s was the next day and revealed an answer. Like her sister, her seizures were also PNES and also linked to bullying and trauma as a child. She found treatment at the Somatic Rehab Clinic to learn how to recognize what causes her stress, how her body reacts, and ways to manage it. She and the family – who took part in family therapy – found the help they needed. Today, both girls are doing remarkably well. They are armed with the tools they need to manage their emotions to prevent seizures.
The family is grateful for the Somatic Rehab Clinic team, who have become like family. Emily wants to share her story to show the importance of being open about your mental health and to explain to bullies the consequences of their negative words and actions.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.