Tips For Surviving Halloween With Epilepsy

By Amy Nora

Some holidays and some chronic illnesses can cause a natural tension within the body.  No, it might not be the stress causing fatigue you are thinking of.  It is strange strobe lights, the nighttime migraines, visual distortions and the disorientation of Halloween.  

Epilepsy is a strange companion.  You make many adjustments to life, often deliberately at first.  Then, many become second nature so you don't think about it.  When I sat down to think about Halloween and what those epilepsy triggers were they started to add up.  That corn maze with the fun and silly people jumping out at you using blow horns, sound machines, and strobe lights?  What about the Haunted House? Well to start, strobe lights are a DEFINITE NO! You stay far away from strobe lights with epilepsy.  I have a healthy sense of self-preservation.  Strobe lights during the day are a migraine, possible seizure.  At night, a person with epilepsy has a much higher risk of having a seizure when exposed to a strobe light.  Those high pitched noises meant to sound like a witch and startle you?  Sounds at certain pitch and frequency can trigger a seizure as well.  

Imagine for those that don't have epilepsy for a moment, enjoying a Haunted House or Corn Maze and suddenly because of a sound or light your best friend, brother, or sister is on the ground convulsing because they were having a good time and just missed something that was a trigger.  We know we can't stop all seizures, but we can take steps…

So, what about that haunted house? Maybe Scaremare? Well, I'm not much of a fan of ghost hunting or anything crazy.  But here are some tips to enjoy Halloween with epilepsy and remain safe. 

First, do things at dusk so you aren't out in the dark.  You can still enjoy the holiday.  Many places offer a “coward” option.  Second, many orchards or farms have fall festivals.  Third, see if your community offers a mystery theater or escape room experience that is Halloween themed.  Fourth, create a fun experience of your own or for someone with epilepsy.  Game night, movies, dig a hole in the front yard and get some crime scene tape, surprise people…. 

Having a disease doesn't mean life is over, you just find new ways of doing things or discovering new passions.  

Have a horrifying, magical, blood-curdling and candy-filled bag Halloween!

Happy Halloween!