Anna Isaac

Her frankest column yet.

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Mine is a rather particular kind of fit, not dressed up and out on the lash, or a pre-exam breakdown.

The only scenario in which the term ‘fit’ is applied to me is a brainstorm not a thought shower.

I lie in a state of complete and utter strangeness after a fit. I have so often been asked “What’s it like when you have a fit?” Most frequently by people who barely know me, a glint of odd curiosity in their eye, and I find it impossible to answer.

NO, as I am so often asked, I am lucky enough not to wet myself when it happens, but yes it has happened at an awkward moment involving nudity and nifty blanketing. NO, flashy lights do not make me fit.

As for during ‘an episode’ (as my mother daintily describes my sessions of flapping like a white eyed salmon on a river bank) I have not a clue what it feels like – I’m unconscious.

I tend to be ‘diazepam-ed’ to stop me fitting. Think being drunk, hungover and stoned at the same time and you’re only close. It usually makes me feel amazing; imagine not being able to worry about anything. Afterwards people stick needles in me and I just smile and or pass out.

I once loudly lectured the college Chaplain, as he visited A&E, on how disgraceful the Dali Lama is, “trotting around in his Gucci shoes, and Mother Teresa with her money in offshore accounts; GREEDY, that’s what religious people are!” I’ve chatted to the paramedic about the lift on the ambulance, asking if a fatty had ever broken it.

The problem really hits after the fit, and after the diazepam, when the wonder drug turns from upper to downer. The tiredness is unbelievable, and the feeling of humiliation vile. Knowing that you turned blue and foamed at the mouth in front of friends and, oh so often, ex-boyfriend is hard to live with. You start to wonder if you’re someone who shouldn’t be around others in case it happens again and you terrify them.

Last time I had a fit I felt broken. It wasn’t the mild embarrassment of coming round and realizing I was still wearing my choir cassock in hospital, it wasn’t the flip-flopping of my boob to fit the pads for the cardiogram, it was that yet again friends had had to rescue me and sat pale faced at my bedside. Forcing me to face the question: was I really worth the bother?

I recently visited the sumptuous prefab that is Addenbrookes’ Neurology department and I was handed a leaflet about a legal firm’s discount on wills for high-risk epileptics. Excellent, I thought, it shall look great next to my framed copies of Sudden Death and Epilepsy, and Epilepsy and Isolation.

When I got home, I burst into tears and threw the depressing paper in the bin. I went for one of my red-eyed walks around Cambridge, and caught a glimpse of a baby grinning at its granny, obviously pooing itself and enjoying it immensely. I had the revelation; life’s too fucking short to be sad or embarrassed any more, and then I asked out someone really fit.


What is this life if full of care?
I have no time.
This life of heavy blanket shame
is not worth the weight.
How could it be?
When the hour’s always late.
So let’s go on a date?