Holidays are hard for those with chronic illness, some holidays are harder for certain groups. Halloween is one of them. Some holidays and some chronic illnesses can cause a natural tension within the body. For those with epilepsy or even complex migraines, all the “fun” holiday lighting can be very triggering. The strange strobe lights, the nighttime migraines, visual distortions and the disorientation of Halloween.
Epilepsy is a strange companion. But like with any conditions you learn to make adjustments to live, 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, chainsaws, and strobe lights? What about the Haunted House? There are too many triggers to even name. But to start with strobe lights are ALWAYS A DEFINITE NO! You learn very quickly to stay far, far away from strobe lights with epilepsy. Strobe lights during the day are a migraine at minimum, but the worry about a possible seizure is always there. 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? It can also be a bad idea for those with epilepsy and let’s be honest and high pitch noises can set off a migraine on a good day. Sounds at certain pitch and frequency can trigger a seizure as well. So basically NO HAUNTED HOUSES for those with epilepsy or migraine. Unless you can find one somewhere that has no abrupt loud noises, no scary people jumping out at you and no strobe lights. Which I think just described my house in the dark….so you get the drift.
For young people especially isn’t hard to say no to going to events like this. All your friends are going and it’s all they’ve been talking about for days. It’s tempting however when they haven’t had a seizure in quite some time to forget all they know and just go. But it’s never a good idea. And definitely not if the friends you are going with don’t know about your seizure history. But let’s take a moment and Imagine, for those that don’t have epilepsy for a moment. You and your friends are 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. All 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.
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 that have a lot of less dangerous and fun options. Less dangerous doesn’t have to mean brining.
See if your community offers a mystery theater or escape room experience that is Halloween themed. Just make sure that they have an option where there are no on with sudden loud noises or strobe lights. Most escape rooms will have those options.
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 and holidays will forever be boring. You just find new ways of doing things or discovering new passions. There are tons of options these days for a “epilepsy safe” halloween. It may seem scary especially if you are young to have to bring up your condition but it’s more Important for you to have a safe and fun holiday.
Have a horrifying, magical, blood-curdling and candy-filled bag Halloween!