Posted by: docdenbow | June 12, 2012

Anticonvulsants – A Necessary Evil Or A Calculated Risk? Epilim & Lamictal……

Do you know that as a person, an entire human being, I am perfection personified. Everything about me, except perhaps my good looks which are fading fast, is bang on. Well I was perfection personified. In fact I would be or could be perfection personified were it not for the medication I need to take to control epilepsy. Without the medication I would have seizures – of that there is absolutely no doubt. So I have to take my pills religiously. At night and then mid morning. I do not want to have any more fits, not now not ever so the taking of prescription medication is what may be viewed as a necessary evil or a calculated risk.

Why so? Well if you are ever prescribed anything by a Doctor, you trot off to the chemist and eventually after an interminable wait you are handed a little paper bag containing anonymous looking packets and/or bottles. You go home clutching your precious little parcel and I’m willing to bet that most of you out there will take the medicine without looking at the little leaflet that comes with every chemical concoction that the usually bespectacled man in Boots gives you. Yes, you’ll glug it down or pop the pills at the prescribed times with no thought of the insidious sneaky little things that can go on as a by product of fixing your ailment. Stick with me here, I know I’m rambling.

I have to take pills, as I’ve already said. I’ll probably have to be taking these pills for life and as Prince once said “That’s A Mighty Long Time” (Let’s Go Crazy – Purple Rain 1984) so unless I was a complete bozo, which I’m not although I do a pretty fine impression, I ought to be aware of what these pills could do and perhaps are doing to me. I’ll share with you what a little bit of research told me.

I take two drugs to combat my seizures. The brand names are Epilim and Lamictal. I have absolutely no idea how they “work” but hopefully as a combination they’ll sort me out. I’ve taking Epilim since I was about sixteen – some thirty seven years – and I guess that if was going to kill me then it would have done by now. The other drug I take is Lamictal, and I have been taking that for about ten months. Now both of these drugs as well as being used as anti-convulsants have also been used as part of a combined therapy for people with bi polar disorder.

Now, getting back to this perfection business were it not for these pair of pals of mine then I’d be perfect.

Just have a look at the possible side effects!

Disturbances of the gut such as diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain.
Increased appetite and weight gain.
Decrease in the number of platelets in the blood (thrombocytopenia).
Temporary hair loss – regrowth may be curly.
Increased alertness.
Shaky movements and unsteady walk (ataxia).
Inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis).
Liver disorders.
Irregular or stopping of menstrual periods.
Skin rashes.
Decreased numbers of white blood cells in the blood (leucopenia).
Increased hair growth (hirsutism).
Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).

That little lot above is just Epilim. These below show what Lamictal can do for you.

Double vision — up to 49 percent
Headaches — up to 29 percent
Coordination problems — up to 28 percent
Blurred vision — up to 25 percent
Nausea — up to 25 percent
Vomiting — up to 20 percent.
Other common side effects, occurring in 5 to 20 percent of people, included:
Irritated or runny nose
Sore throat
Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
Insomnia (see Lamictal and Insomnia)
Shakiness (tremor)
Back pain
Flu-like symptoms (such as body aches or chills)
Indigestion or heartburn
Painful menstrual cramps
Dry mouth (see Lamictal and Dry Mouth)
Painful menstrual cramps
Chest pain
Weight loss (see Lamictal and Weight Loss).
Worsening of seizures
Depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts
Any unusual bruising or bleeding
Signs of aseptic meningitis, such as:
Fever and chills
Nausea and vomiting
Vaginal infection or irritation
Speech problems
Bladder infection (urinary tract infection or UTI)
Concentration problems
Joint pain
Loss of appetite
Neck pain
Sinus infection
Sensitivity to the sun
A spinning sensation (vertigo)
Memory loss (amnesia)
Increased sex drive
Bloody nose
Dry skin
Migraine headaches
Stiff neck
Sensitivity to light
Drowsiness or confusion
Signs of liver damage, such as yellow eyes or skin (jaundice)
Severe muscle pain
Frequent infections
Signs of a dangerous allergic reaction, including:
Hives or any rash
Swollen lymph nodes (swollen “glands”)
Painful sores in or around the mouth or eyes
Swelling of the lips or tongue

So as you can see anything that people find less than cool about me from puking everywhere, to being tired all the time, to being alert and aggressive and bleeding in a funny way can all be blamed on “me pills.” That’s great isn’t it? A ready made excuse for everything wrong with me. I suppose that’s an advantage of being on prescription medication for epilepsy.
Oh, and by the way there is a real doozy of a side effect……………..

Depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts and behaviour

Mind you that does make my listening to The Manic Street Preachers more relevant…..

“I write this alone on my bed
I’ve poisoned every room in the house
The place is quiet and so alone
Pretend there’s something worth waiting for

There’s nothing nice in my head
The adult world took it all away
I wake up with same spit in my mouth
I cannot tell if it is real or not……”

Ciao For Now



  1. A spinning sensation! I think I had that last night! Oh, wait….

  2. Side Effects BAD! Man. The Manics are great though! Loved them for years now, since about 1994/5 time. Great band! If I remember OK didn’t one of their number disappear? Maybe I’m mistaken, but a great band anyway.

    I was wondering reading your list of symptoms, ‘maybe its better to not take them at all. They stop pepilepsy and create all of that worry.’ Your meds are so bad man, so bad.

    But I guess we have to do what is medically right. Make sure you are OK and healthy as possible mate.

    Peace! 🙂 Look after yourself dude.

    • I am very very lucky that I get none of those side effects.

      The only one I get is that I’m a talented writer that someone will pay £50,000 a year to me in exchange for a couple of thousand words a day or better yet per week


  3. Glad to know you don’t have to worry about all those side affects. You have enough to worry about just having epilepsy.

    • Sometimes I feel a bit of a fraud complaining about my problems with epilepsy, especially given that a lot of my problems were self inflicted by not taking care of myself as I should. Hopefully now that I do, my fits will be a thoing of the past.

      • For sutch a tallunted and arrogent writer, your speling is pretty crap.

      • Nice to know I have fans

  4. You forgot to mention birth defects.

    • I understand that I missed the birth defects issue out of my piece.

      However, I was writing just about me and the choices that I have had to make with regards to my meds.



  5. I am so glad you put this up, I, myself am suffering from epilepsy and have a lot of these side effects and when I go to the doctors they tell me they can’t understand what’s wrong. Only recently when I went to my professor with my diary with all the list of my symptoms did he say it was an effect of my medication. For years I thought I was going mad. It’s crazy what our bloody medication does to us “/

    • I’m pleased you liked my little blog post. I also hope you found it entertaining.

      I think it’s important to remember that anti convulsants can have an effect on your (and mine) behaviour, it’s also crucial that you don’t use the negative aspects and side effects as an excuse for any shortcomings that you feel you may have.

      If you don’t take your pills you know the consequences so just stick with them and be aware of what your life could be without them.

      I wrote my own experiences as someone with epilepsy here :

      Stick with it……..

  6. as someone with TLE, beyond that seizures themselves are anti depressant & hence why anti convulsants increase suicide risk and depression (inhibiting fits) whilst being mood stabilisers in the general population. (Actually I lost my hair and had weight gain on epilim, rashed on lamictal) Its a complex problem about side effects vs seizures, ive recently now 36 developed violent behaviour during my fits of which ive no memory or control which is pretty disturbing & Ive more generally recent personality changes, hypergraphia and very poor memory. However I do believe (rationalisation…) we have punched above our weight and had a lot to offer society (at least historically) & have a lot to offer still. x

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