“My Boyfriend Has Epilepsy and I Can’t Handle It”

I’m 23, my boyfriend is 29. Two nights ago my boyfriend had a seizure and cracked his head open on the floor. I was the first and only responder until EMS showed up. Blood flowed into a large puddle surrounding his head, SO MUCH BLOOD. His eyes looked nowhere, and his skin turned grey. I believed he was on the brink of death, and battled my own shock, to keep him with me while I waited an excruciating twenty minutes for EMS. I’m a lifeguard part time while finishing university, so I know basic first aid and I’ve been in situations like this before (though this was the most serious by far). It’s a whole new experience when its someone you Love.

Staying in a relationship with him, it’s likely something like this will happen again. He was diagnosed with epilepsy about a year ago, along with other health problems. This is his second seizure, the first he was driving a car, luckily slowly. My mother practically begged me to leave him when he was first diagnosed, but love ruled. Being so involved in his second seizure has woken me up; I realize I can’t deal with it. I can’t sleep — I keep seeing his empty grey face. I was so terrified to hold his severely wounded body in my arms, TERRIFIED! He didn’t recognize me and kept pushing me away while I fought to keep pressure on his wound. I was nervous he would hit me out of confusion, but more nervous he would bleed out and die. He needs me now more than ever. So, I have resolved to be there for him as a girlfriend, until he is no longer directly dealing with the aftermath of the incident. But I need to break up with him for my own sake. I can’t willingly subject myself to that situation ever again, unless I have to.

He is healing at his parents’ home now, but I can’t bear to have him come back to live with me. I went to visit him tonight and he’s already asking when he can come home. I don’t think he has an inkling of how traumatic this was for me. He was either in a fugue state or unconscious the whole time, and he doesn’t remember any of it.

I care about him deeply, but I am too young to introduce this much trauma into my life. I want to be there for him, but I just can’t be the one. I’m scared my leaving will spin him into depression.

How should I carry on now, when I know I’ll have to break the relationship when he’s better? How do I break up with him with as little damage as possible (and hopefully still be there for him)? — Needing to End This

How scary that seizure must have been for you! I can imagine it must have felt very traumatic — to see your boyfriend looking near-death and to be solely responsible for keeping him alive until EMS got to you. You may need some post-trauma counseling — maybe just a few sessions — to help you move past it, as well as deal with the guilt you feel in ending your relationship with your boyfriend. And you should end the relationship — the sooner the better — if you don’t feel up for the responsibility of being the significant other of someone with serious health issues.

It’s 100% ok for you to get out of this relationship. Dating, when you’re open to and maybe even looking for a longterm relationship, is all about figuring out whether someone is a match for you (and vice-versa). Part of deciding whether someone is a match is learning about his or her needs and figuring out whether you can meet those needs in a way that doesn’t completely deplete your own energy or compromise your values. You’re figuring out that your boyfriend’s needs are beyond what you can meet, and that’s ok. But now you owe it to both of you to be honest about what you’re feeling, what you’re learning about your own limitations and your own needs, and let your boyfriend know that as much as you care for him, you can’t be the one to meet the needs he has.

If your boyfriend is stable and resting at his parents’ home, wondering when he can come back to the home you two share, I would tell him now that he’s welcome to come back but that you need to change the terms of your relationship and your living arrangement. This may mean that he needs to find a new place to live as quickly as possible, or it may mean that you need to find a new place to live. (Is the lease in both of your names? Who found the place? Did you discuss in advance how you would handle moving out if you broke up?) For the moment, you are both entitled to be in your home. At the very least, he’s entitled to retrieve his things and have a couple weeks to find a new place to live before you replace him with a new roommate.

As for “being there for him,” I think your assessment was right that you aren’t the one for that. I don’t see how you can break up with him and continue being a support to him. That’s a conflict of interest. There needs to actually be a true break in order for you to transition from girlfriend to friend. There needs to be closure and a clear boundary set in order for healing to happen and a new space to be made for a different role for you (IF that’s even wanted by both of you, and it may not be. And you probably won’t know if it is for a while.)

Will breaking up with him be “damaging”? I don’t know. Maybe. But I’m not sure it will be any more damaging than most breakups. There’s always a reason, or multiple reasons, people end relationships. And you hope, when you’re being dumped, that whatever it is that caused the other person to think you weren’t the one for her or him is something that will be nonexistent or overcome or maybe even appreciated in a future relationship. Similarly, your breaking up with your boyfriend because he has health issues that are too much for you to handle right now may sting. But it will also provide him a wider perspective for what he needs in a partner going forward. Maybe he won’t be as fast to let his guard down — to move in with someone who hasn’t been “extremely vetted,” to borrow a term we’ve been hearing in the news a lot. If you can be kind and gracious and compassionate in your ending of this relationship, which includes drawing clear boundaries and not muddling the definition of your role in his life, he will be in a much better position to process this in a healthy way and to let it be a learning experience for him and not something that breeds anger and resentment and hostility. The simple truth is: You’re young and you’re learning a lot, and one of the things you’ve learned is that a serious health issue in a partner isn’t something you’re prepared to take on right now. The sooner you compassionately admit this to your boyfriend, the better.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. Bittergaymark says:

    Eh. So much for in sickness and in health, eh?

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      They’re not married though.

      1. Exactly. And people break up with others for far less.

    2. Unless they are both only interested in purely casual, then the same applies, because they then both want/expect the relationship to progress in that direction. It is good that she knows what she can and cannot handle and bails now. The guy deserves a gf who is able to handle him having a condition he is always going to have. Gf needs to think hard on this, not to consider staying with this guy, but for her future relationships, since anyone you date/marry can come down with just about any condition at any time.

      1. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I don’t think the same does apply though. When you marry someone, you’ve decided to make a huge commitment, to merge your lives until one of you dies. Just dating someone, before you’ve decided you’re ready to make that kind of commitment to someone, is completely different.

      2. I agree with you that once you’ve made the marriage commitment you are more ‘bound’ through sickness and bad things. My point is: if you know he is looking for a serious relationship and marriage and his illness is a deal-breaker, which would prevent you from every marrying him, then you don’t date him seriously, knowing about his condition, just as you wouldn’t marry him, knowing about his condition and knowing that it freaks you out and you are unable to deal with it. That would just be leading him on. If the focus of both of them is casual, then no harm done if she stays as long as she is able and both are enjoying the casual relationship. I believe that just as one should not marry a person knowing a deal-breaker is present, one shouldn’t continue to seriously date them either. It is a waste of their time.

      3. dinoceros says:

        I think that’s the logical plan, but a lot of people don’t realize that’s how they feel until they’re in it. She’s making that determination, just making it later than would probably be ideal. I think that most people don’t go into dating knowing that certain illnesses are deal breakers. I know that it had never occurred to me at age 23 that I might date someone with epilepsy or know what that means. If she were to go and date someone in a similar position after this, that would be a big problem.

      4. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I agree with you Ron, but it seems that she didn’t know it was a dealbreaker until she actually experienced the trauma of his episode. And that only happened two days ago. Before that, she thought she was ok with it.

      5. ele4phant says:

        I do agree with RRRR.

        I know I’ve been advocating that the LW take a beat to calm down and get the full scope of his prognosis before making any rash decisions, but it does seem kind of crazy to say if you’re dating someone – even seriously and long term* – that you are essentially being held to the same level of commitment as if you were married.

        You can’t know everything about someone when you decide to become exclusive and seriously. That’s why its generally a good idea to date for awhile and maybe even live together before you get married. Sometimes you learn things a few years in that are incompatibilities. Sometimes you change. Sometimes they change.

        It sounds like for this LW, the realization that she might not be able to handle this is new. It’s not like she knew it was too much after his first seizure but hung on for a year. She just now witnessed, personally, the violence of his seizure and it was really really scary and she’s just now questioning if maybe it’s too much.

        And it’s fair.

        * I know not everyone believes in marriage, and plenty of people make lifetime commitments without getting married yada yada yada, but still, that’s generally is (should be) a conscious decision of both partners. Doesn’t sound like this young woman and her boyfriend were at that level of commitment.

      6. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Yep, and I agree with ele4phant that since this just happened a couple of days ago, if she loves this guy and she was thinking of him seriously enough to plan a future, then she might want to give it a few weeks and maybe some therapy and see if she thinks this is something that she could work through. But if she’s not that serious about him, or if in a month or so she still feels the same way, then I think it’s totally fair for her to decide she can’t handle this.

    3. You’d have a point if they were married.

    4. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      They’re unmarried and she’s 23 years old. Give me a break.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Eh. It’s a pretty shallow reason to break up with someone. Look, I have several friends with epilepsy. I’ve seen seizures. Multiple times.
        They are scary as fuck but I never once thought I had to stop being friends with any of them because I simply could “handle” them suffering another seizure in front of me.
        Oh. And this was in college… when I was all of 19.
        Some people need to grow the fuck up. Life isn’t always sunshine and lollipops. Sometimes it is dealing with real challenges. If you can’t even handle witnessing real challenges… well… good fucking luck.

      2. Being friends with someone with epilepsy and being the life partner of someone with epilepsy (or any medical condition) are two different things. I think it’s good that the LW has realized that she’s not able to take on something this serious at this point in her life; I agree with redessa below – this will be something to seriously consider before moving toward a lifetime commitment to another person.

      3. Also, this isn’t just seeing him have a seizure. This is seeing him come close to bleeding out while she tried to save him.

      4. As the sister of someone with epilepsy, it is very different being friends with someone with epilepsy than living with or being in a relationship with someone who has epilepsy. Her friends/roommates are generally aware of it, but a partner has to be prepared, like the LW said be the “first responder.” Both have to know what to do when a seizure happens (special medication, how to avoid an injury, those types of things), but a partner needs to know and be OK with helping with even more (daily medication, avoiding triggers like stress and lack of sleep, restrictions on driving, doctors appointments, side effects from medication, etc.). Being with someone is also signing on for these things and not everyone is up for that.

      5. ele4phant says:

        @Portia. You make good points. But, there is a wide range when it comes severity epilepsy. Many people really don’t need a full time caretaker, and with medication they get their seizures completely under control and can function totally normally. If he’s seizure free for a couple years, he’ll be able to drive again.

        I was having seizures about once every six months, then we figured out my medication and I have not had any for 15 years. My husband has never seen me have one. He knows about it, we’ve talked about what he should do if I ever have one, but essentially my diagnosis has had no impact on his life.

        It sounds like he’s now had two major seizures in a year, which isn’t really that many. And it sounds like he’s still in the process of figuring out how to manage it.

        I’m not saying the LW is wrong to dump him, BUT it seems like this is all pretty fresh and it’s not clear what the long term prognosis for him is yet. If she loves him, which it sounds like she does, I would suggest that she stick around to at least see what they’re dealing with here.

    5. SpaceySteph says:

      LW is 23 and she hasn’t married him. It’s reasonable to leave this guy, either because she doesn’t love him enough to overcome it, or at 23 she’s just not capable of taking that on for anyone regardless of how much she might feel she loves them.
      But I can kinda see where Ron and BGM are coming from. Let this be a lesson to her– when/if you DO get married, this is the kind of thing you’re signing up for. My grandfather signed up for finding my grandmother fallen and hip-broken in the bathroom. My other grandmother signed up for waking up in the middle of the night to my grandfather having a heart attack (more than once, actually). Sooner or later, sickness comes for every one of us.

      1. Absolutely. I have a friend whose husband has Type I diabetes. One of the things she had to learn when they decided to get serious was how to give him an insulin injection in case he ever fell into a diabetic coma. It hasn’t happened because he manages his diabetes, but it could. She signed on for that.

    6. AuntyMacasar says:

      BGM, my partner has petit-mal seizures brought on (of all things) belly laughter. I’ve learned the signs and can tell when he’s about to seize, and I am there to catch his ass if he’s about to crack his head. I’ve also seen him have a grand-mal seizure after a big accident. I do this because I love that fucking asshole to the moon and back. He can rely on me. If the LW doesn’t feel that way, she should bail. He will be better off with a partner who can deal with his infirmities.

  2. I agree with Wendy that if you can’t handle this then getting out now and letting him find someone who can is what you need to do.

    I also agree with getting counselling. My daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 3 and I had some mild PTSD (I also have other anxiety conditions) from that that I talked to someone about. She was having 14 or more seizures a day and while it took almost a year we did get them under control and now at 6 she is doing very well and even off of her meds.

    But… kind of like Mark said above I don’t think you should be in a committed relationship, certainly not a a marriage/permanent commitment, if you don’t think you can handle being someones rock/caregiver through these things. You can’t possibly know what will happen in the future. I never thought I’d have a 3 year old get sick like that and I had a newborn as well at the time but if you love someone you HAVE to be there for these things especially. Just something I think you need to think about.

  3. Bittergaymark says:

    Lucky for her, I guess. I dunno. This letter just reads… icky to me. Her boyfriend had a truly terrible and scary thing happen to him. And yet… this entire letter is so ALL about her. Like mother, like daughter indeed.
    Dump him, LW. Dump him. But for HIS sake. Not yours…

    1. My initial feeling was similar, but considering they’re not married, I don’t think she’s obligated to stay with him if this freaks her out so much. If she comes across as selfish and immature, well, she’s only 23. Hopefully by the time she’s ready to get married, this experience will help her realize what those vows really mean and she’ll be ready and willing to accept that commitment.

    2. Welp, I guess that clinches it: the phrase ‘ball and chain’ is meant literally, and people should push through what sounds like revulsion and trauma to stay with someone with decades more medical problems because they’re using the terms ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend.’ Mark hath spoken, therefore it must be so. *massive eyeroll*

      1. LOL!

    3. I feel the same. There is no guarantee that something won’t happen to anyone. My ex boyfriend nearly died in my arm and it was traumatic. I think that she is jumping the gun and should get some post traumatic type of therapy first and foremost. NO one wants to see anyone hurt, ever, be it a car accident on the freeway or the one you love but these things happen in life. To refuse to be around anything bad that could happen is very short sighted. Also how would she feel if the tables were turned? If something happens to her and her boyfriend said “oh this was too much I can’t handle it” I am quite sure she would be writing the opposite on here about how betrayed and hurt she feels.

      My mother had a similar seizure disorder and the fact is over time it is often controlled, you and the afflicted learn to read the signs and the chances of cracking your head open go way down. My mother now knows when she feels off and sits down, pulls over, etc. Also with such conditions it takes a good amount of time to find the exact right medications/doses to control it.

      All that being said, if she is going to behave so immature about such things it is better for him in the long run that she leave.

      1. dinoceros says:

        I usually have the argument that anyone can have an emergency, but I think there’s a difference between anyone having one and someone being pretty much guaranteed to have one on a regular basis. And it does increase or decrease based on age. A 23-year-old is most likely not going to have to deal with serious health conditions as much as someone older might.

        I definitely think it’s a sad situation and think it’s a part of adult relationships to understand that you may need to support someone else through a variety of trauma (physical, emotional, etc.), but if a person doesn’t like someone enough to put up with health issues, it probably wasn’t going to last anyway.

    4. ele4phant says:

      I agree and disagree.

      I don’t think that when you are dating someone you are obligated to stick around the same way you are when you are married. You can have any dealbreakers you want. Hell, if she wanted to break up with him because he liked to wear goofy socks and she found that embarrassing, that would be legit. That’s the point of being with someone without being married. You get decide when you want and for whatever reason. You have not made that lifetime commitment to put up with all their baggage and stick it out thru thick and thin.

      On the other hand, I have eplipsey. I know it’s very scary, but I also know that it’s pretty controllable condition for many and it sounds like right now they’re still working on getting it managed. She may be fearful that she’s going to be watching him have these violent seizures all the time; but the truth is maybe tomorrow his neurologist gets him on the right drug and the right dose and he never has another one. It happened that way for me.

      Or maybe not. Maybe this is their new reality.

      If she loves him and sees a future with him, it may be worth waiting around a little bit longer to see what the prognosis is before definitively deciding it’s too much.

    5. AuntyMacasar says:

      Agree with you. She should dump him for his sake. A person’s health problems should not be all about YOU, ffs.

  4. dinoceros says:

    Breaking up with someone hurts them, no matter the reason. You can’t control that part. As long as you’re kind and respectful about it, that’s all you can do.

  5. for_cutie says:

    I agree with Wendy, you need to compassionately break up with him now, before he comes home. Of course he is not going to take it well – someone he loves is abandoning him due to something completely out of his control. Just because it is right for you doesn’t mean it won’t suck a lot. Plus, he’s doing his best to recover with his parents, looking forward to living with you again. You cannot let me him continue to look forward to an outcome that won’t happen – at least in the way it was. Give him the chance to recover with dignity and rebound into a living situation he is comfortable with. Maybe he won’t want to come home to you at all. And if so, he should get to process this in a safe place (his parent’s house) and make a plan for his future that doesn’t involve you.

  6. Another possibility: her unwillingness to stay with her boyfriend with this condition may be indicative of her age or non-readiness to make a more permanent commitment; however, maybe it only indicated that she is unwilling to commit to him specifically. IOW, maybe she would be willing to deal with this condition if it were the right person.

    Just playing devil’s advocate here as her reaction to a tough situation seems kind of knee-jerk. People marry people with similar and worse conditions all the time. Maybe it’s immaturity, or maybe it’s just not the right guy.

    1. dinoceros says:

      Yeah, I was thinking that too.

  7. ele4phant says:

    Listen, you don’t need permission ever to break up with someone, no matter how frivolous others think yours reasons are.

    That said, I have epilepsy. Compared to many, it was pretty mild, but with medication and minor behavior changes, for most people you can get it under control. I haven’t had a seizure in nearly 15 years.

    Are his under control? Is he working with a neurologist at least? Sometimes it takes a while to find the right medication. It may be terrifying to imagine a lifetime of seeing him have seizures, but assuming he’s being proactive here, he may get it under control soon and never have one again. As you both become educated about epilepsy, it may seem less scary and you may feel more knowledgeable and empowered if he has another one, instead of scared.

    I don’t know, but if you love this guy, maybe don’t make any rash decisions. Even if he never fully gets them under control, it may all become more manageable seeming once you get over the shock.

    1. I don’t have epilepsy, but I do have a chronic illness with multiple complications. I would never try to convince someone to overcome their uneasiness about me as a partner based on my ability to manage my condition. Managed or not, there’s always the need to be mindful, and maybe they’re not ready for that. That’s okay–loving me, staying with me, has to be their decision, and if that decision is no, then I’m/they’re not the right person.

      1. ele4phant says:

        Your right, it is okay if she’s just never easy around him again. I’m not trying to suggest she’s in the wrong.

        I am saying, as someone who has direct experience with the disease, she may be assuming a certain future which may or may not be true. If she loves this guy, it may be worth seeing what the doctors say before she makes that decision.

      2. ele4phant says:

        I guess what I’m saying is, you have a clear sense of what your condition is and what it may, or may not, ask of your partners.

        This guy’s condition is unknown. It’s new, sounds like they are still figuring out how it can be managed and what life will be like. Seizures are scary to witness (and have!), but what is also scary for her I’m sure is the uncertanity about what his new diagnosis means.

        I’m just trying to offer a perspective that it might not be as bad as she fears. That things are still early and that it may actually mean minimal disruption to their (his) lives.

        But, if she doesn’t want to hang around to find out, then of course, moving on does not make her a bad person.

        Just offering my perspective as someone who lives with this condition.

      3. While I do hear all the things you’re saying, I feel that in a lot of dating discourse there’s a tendency to advise people to talk themselves out of their first reactions, and whatever the cause of the reactions at the time they’re quite valid.

        It seems, despite the title, that her problem isn’t with epilepsy, it’s with being traumatized by the guy almost dying on her. To say that epilepsy can be managed (which is true) doesn’t negate that in this moment it wasn’t, and she feels unready (which is valid.)

        I know you’re not trying to push her to doubt herself, and I can’t be inside her head to know exactly why she wants to call it quits, but I can also say that that amount of trauma? Very, very hard to step back from. It would permanently color my interactions with my partner, no matter what I learned about their condition and its management. Particularly at such a young age–I’d be noping the fuck out of there so fast you’d see a blur.

  8. Northern Star says:

    I don’t know, it sounds to me like you are echoing your mother, who begged you to drop the BF as soon as he was diagnosed (which is pretty crappy, in my opinion, unless there were other reasons she doesn’t like him). “I’m too young,” really? No, you’re not. People younger than you join the military, become ER nurses and paramedics, take care of terminally sick parents, etc. Getting older doesn’t make you stronger if you run away when things get difficult.

    Make sure you are leaving your boyfriend because he is not the man you want to be with forever. Don’t leave him because your mom is constantly whispering in your ear about how this is “too hard.” And get counseling to help you move past your fear and horror, for sure.

    1. Northern Star, I’m with you. That whole “I’m too young” is complete and utter bullshit and turned me off. I can respect “I realized I can’t handle it” – that’s totally valid and good for her for copping to it, but age is irrelevant. We’ve seen older folks who have bailed after a major life tragedy and younger folks who’ve stayed the course.

    2. dinoceros says:

      At first, I felt that way too about the “too young” comment. But it might be true for her. She very likely might be more equipped to handle it 10 years from now. But I do agree that if she is saying that EVERYONE her age would feel the same way, she’s naive.

  9. Another Jen says:

    I don’t think it’s respectful to stay with someone out of guilt or obligation. Sure, he has epilepsy, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of handling the normal emotional ups and downs of life, relationships end all the time. Depending on where the relationships stands outside of his condition, it might help to discuss your feelings and his needs. You’re not at a point where you’re ready to be a partner’s caregiver…is your relationship even at that point? Maybe he’s not aware that you feel like you’re being asked to take on this responsibility…maybe he doesn’t want you to. On the other hand, if he’s looking for a till-death-do-us-part commitment, he needs to be free to find someone in the same frame of mind. All things considered, 23 is young to make a life-long commitment to a partner; if you’re not ready to do that, epilepsy or not, breaking up is the right move.

  10. My son, 18 at the time, had his first seizure a year ago, and has had 2 more episodes since. It was terrifying; I was afraid he would die or have serious brain damage. Like the OP, my son has no memory of the episodes and does not feel traumatized by them. But because I was there with him for all 3 and in the ICU with him for 4 days after the first episode I am definitely traumatized. If he were my boyfriend instead of my son, I would seriously consider breaking up with him. Obviously I love my son and want to remain a part of his life and will do anything I can for him. But I really do live in terror that it will happen again. I have nothing but sympathy for the OP. She’s so young, and it’s a lot to have to cope with. Give her a break.

  11. I think you date people in order to find the one to whom you’d be willing to potentially make that “in sickness and in health” vow. Until you do, you’re not obligated to be ready for that.

    1. You nailed it Kate.
      I also loved the compassionate and realistic answer Wendy gave.
      Good luck, LW

  12. When a person knows him/herself well enough to know what their limits are AND is mature enough to exit a situation which pushes them past those limits, then you have to respect that. The incident apparently traumatized her to the point where she is no longer comfortable in the relationship. And nobody should be “obligated” to stay in a relationship that they are no longer comfortable in. She can’t be a good girlfriend to him if she’s always going to be scared for his safety. It’s not fair to her and it’s not fair to him. And it’s shitty to try and tell a person what they should/shouldn’t be willing to put up with in a relationship when we all have different thresholds for what constitutes a deal breaker. With that being said she’s probably still very much on edge, not thinking with a clear mind and should take some time to let her emotions settle before making a decision.

  13. judge sheryl says:

    This happened two days ago! — I’m so sorry this happened to you. This is way too raw to be making any decisions. go to post traumatic therapy and THEN decide if you still want to break up. I think you are jumping the gun saying you definitely can’t handle it, especially if you were thinking of a real future together (if this was just casual, then yeah, I guess it’s fine to just break up with him) it’s possible you may come to the conclusion in a few weeks that you survived, came out stronger, and can handle it, especially if he is a great partner in every other way. It’s possible, you may regret breaking up and cause your partner hurt that isn’t necessary and possibly not what even you want.

    I really don’t see the harm in waiting a few weeks to process your own feelings before letting your bf in on any of this. I disagree that being supportive to him over the next few weeks will make a breakup any worse, if you choose to go that route. I think that is just being a decent person.

    I’m also not saying you are terrible if you decide you don’t want to stay with him after you have really processed this. But I do think you should go to therapy and take care of recovering yourself before you make any decisions. I do think it’s fair to disclose to your bf– that you were scared more than you ever have been in your life and need some support and do need to speak to someone. And also, that you are scared right now that you couldn’t handle another episode on your own (maybe helping to keep him at his parents a bit longer).

    And yes, you are young, but that isn’t a defacto justification for “I can’t handle this”. Take some time and make sure that is really what you want and need.

    1. Um…”I can’t handle this” is de facto justification for “I can’t handle this.” She doesn’t need to do or say anything else to ‘justify’ leaving.

      1. judge sheryl says:

        Two days after a major, horrifying event, I’m sure there are a lot of people who have said “I can’t handle this” and then, somehow, time passes, they get through it and they find they CAN handle it.

        That may or may not be the case, with the LW, regardless of her age. The point was to give it some time and get support for herself, before deciding to break up with someone she loves. There is no magic number of days to wait, but 2 days in, seems like most people would still be trying to process this.

  14. What a kind and considerate response, Wendy. I didn’t know what to make of the LW’s letter until I read your response. You are right, she’s 23 and dating. And I think it’s very mature of her to acknowledge that she can’t handle this, even though it is probably not the ‘socially accepted’ kind of thing to think.

  15. LW, do tell him the truth and take some distance. He isn’t stable now medically speaking, and you are not mature enough to deal with such a grave health issue.
    The age difference and the dependence he shows now isn’t manageable for you either. Just be honest with him, it is human and OK to feel this way. You could also speak with doctors who know this condition. Then, when you will have a better view on the situation, on your own feelings and your expectations in life, you will know what to do and will be able to take a definitive decision. Anyway, the best is to be honest with him. You were frightened by this confrontation with a near death experience: anybody would be terrified and shaken. Allow yourself some time to figure out your own reaction to this event. Good luck!

  16. Yea it can be scary for you but think about him, not the blood and everything else just him. He is going through this experience and it is awkward when you have a seizure in public or with friends. I have had epilepsy for 7 years now and have had 12 grand mal seizures. They are scary and what I don’t like about some of the poeple who see it happening is they think it’s a them problem, that they are gonna be scarred and scared forever. People with epilepsy are living everyday of their lives continuing on with the fact they might have a seizure anywhere. Personally I don’t think you should break up with him because of him epilepsy becuase if someone did that to me I would be heartbroken, and feel like I needed to be changed.

  17. Disgusting. First, epilepsy can be controlled and for you to leave him at this important time only says you have a horrible character and you disgust me. My fiance left me after 2 seizures out of the blue (controlled now) and 6 months later I still spend some days severely depressed because of it. Prior I literally thought she was the kindest and most supportive person I knew. I would never leave a person I told I love at such a key time. If you say you love someone and leave them at such an important time just shows what kind of person you truly are.

    1. allentown1 says:

      A noble sentiment James D, but you can never know until you actually confront that situation. Actually, you are telling us that your gf hurt you when she left and that you hope you would have behaved better than she did, if the situation was reversed.

  18. I am a 32 yrs old divorced woman. I am in a serious relationship with a guy 5 yrs younger and is epileptic. I know I can handle it, have witnessed his epileptic attack only once though. Fortunately I was there with him.

    Earlier I was not at all sure about us due to differences in our nature so I kept telling him that we should discontinue. He tried to do everything to save our relationship and I feel guilty for being so impatient. I really care for him and love him but my only concern was our compatibility so I told him to put our relationship on hold for sometime and think about it.

    This is when things took a turn. Its very idiotic and superstitious. He started lying to me that he went to a priest and the priest told him that I was affected by black magic and this is the reason we had been fighting, so we have to so some prayers together. The irony is I trust him so much that I started believing in it. Till this point it was fine. But later he told me that he had to observe fast for 14 days(the priest has told him to do so). I was so scared that being epileptic how could he observe fast but he did and as expected he had an epileptic attack on the 11th day (the first time I witnessed it) and I begged him to discontinue with the fast but he didn’t stop. He fasted like this 2 more times but fortunately nothing happened to him.

    Meanwhile we were still fighting and to our bad it started physical. I told him that it was better we got apart. We both were mentally , physically and emotionally exhausted. Then he went on with something more dangerous . In my absence He banged his head against a chair thrice till the time the wound was visible. It was all done just to gain my sympathy. I melted again. In fact many a times during our flights he intentionally fell from the bed hitting his head on the floor. Again to melt me. He in fact threatened me twice with a knife to kill himself if I leave. It was all scary for me when I didn’t know it was all a plot just to make me stay in the relationship.

    I was being impatient too but later I controlled myself and my anger. Then I finally said yes to him. After 6 months he told me that had I been patient enough he wouldn’t have lied. I asked him what lie. Then he started spilling the beans. I was shocked to the core when he told me all that priest thing was a lie and he hurt himself intentionally. He said I did all that to make you realise we can be happy together and he was proud of that. He asked me if I was proud. I wanted to slap him so hard. Prayers part was okay but going to the extent of hurting himself terrified me. I still decided to continue with him but a doctor told me that one-third of the epileptic patients have suicidal tendencies which is really underestimated. Please don’t get me wrong who are suffering from it. I know it’s a serious health issue. But I really need help. No one knows that he did all that except two of us. Our parents have agreed to our relationship as I told my parents he is on tapering period . But my sister and brother-in-law are not convinced. I am in acute dilemma and haunted to the core if the suicidal tendency thing is right about him. I have this fear he can go to any extent to make things happen according to his will. He is very caring and loving though, yet I am scared of this fact. I showed my anger to him and he said I had left him with no option. Everytime he asks “aren’t you proud of me that I went this far?” If I say no then he gets angry and if I say yes then it would be my permission to these things in future too. I do t want to lose him but on the other side I am scared to death because of his acts. PLEASE HELP!

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      You should copy your post and paste it in the advice part of the forums or it will end up lost because no one will see it.

      Your boyfriend is manipulative. He is controlling you in any way that works. This is not what a good relationship looks like. In a good relationship no one needs to lie and manipulate to hold the relationship together. Staying together in a bad relationship isn’t a mark of honor or goodness. Staying together in a bad relationship is a way to destroy yourself emotionally and even physically.

      You need to escape from this relationship. You need to have nothing more to do with your boyfriend. You need to work out a plan for leaving without him knowing you plan to leave. Then leave. Don’t let him manipulate you into staying. That is emotional abuse. When he goes frantically into lies and self-harm you need to ignore it. He will only do these things to try to trap you into continuing the relationship. People who care about you don’t do that. You are an object to be controlled. You need to escape to save yourself.

  19. Thanks a lot! Its just that sometimes I feel had I been patient enough to stay he would not have to do all this. He promised me that he wont repeat these things in future, he is not sorry about what he did though. Should I give him one more chance?
    P.S. I have posted it on advice section already. Thank you!

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      All you need to know is that it is a bad relationship. It isn’t emotionally healthy for you. He doesn’t deserve your time or your patience. Just because you start seeing someone doesn’t mean that you have to keep them for life. Dating is about finding the right someone for life and he isn’t your right someone. When you realize that the person you are seeing isn’t the right someone for you it is time to break up. They don’t have to be a bad person to not be right for you. They just need to be incompatible to not be right for you.

      You shouldn’t patiently wait around for someone to transform themselves. You shouldn’t patiently waste your life in the wrong relationship. You know it is wrong when it is emotionally exhausting. You know it is wrong when they lie to manipulate you. You know it is wrong when you don’t want to be in it. You know it is wrong when they blame their lies on you as something they had to do to manipulate you into staying. He is emotionally abusing you and trying to blackmail you into staying with threats of self harm. A good partner never does that. When you catch a partner threatening self harm to manipulate you it is a huge red flag. It shows you that you need to get out now.

      Since this guy is terribly manipulative you need to make a plan for leaving him without him knowing you plan to go. Figure out your finances and where you will stay and then go when he isn’t home. Leave him a note and get out. Don’t give him your new address. Block him on your phone. Don’t allow him to contact you through social media. Ignore all contact. He will go wildly manipulative when you move out and will keep it up for a while, maybe a long while. If he harms himself that is on him. You aren’t harming him by refusing to be manipulated by his self harm. The only person who harms himself this way is a person who likes to harm himself.

  20. John Dune says:

    She’s 23 so you can forgive her for searching for the romantic fantasy. However if you love someone you don’t leave them when they need you most and he is lucky to be rid of you long term. Oh and karma…

  21. Anonymous says:

    I find it interesting the fallacies here. To begin with he was not on the edge of death. He indeed turned grey from the apnea and hypoventalation associated with low oxygen saturation from the seizure into the post ictal state. You state some act of vigilante heroism as you are a life gaurd and made the opening statements like you had the scramble for gratification. How about applying direct pressure and protecting the airway for life status until EMS/Fire arrived? It is hard to see a loved one with an illness. Hearing your mother beg you to leave him. Yuck what an example you have had as a female figure. Yes you are indeed too young and arrogant as well as ignorant to date. Of course you state he was pushing you away. He was post ictal after a grandmal seizure and sufferd a open head wound. My God what has this world come to. If it is traumatic for you. Then do him a favor and leave asap. What if this seizure was a cause of low blood sugar? Sleep apnea? Sounds like mother like daughter.

  22. It’s honestly very cowardice to leave someone just because they have seizures. But in those terms, it seems your head isn’t in the right place for the relationship anyway. I first witnessed one of my boyfriend’s many seizures two days ago. And the first thought I had was “we need to do more.” I need to do more research, find what helps other people so that it could potentially help him. Educate myself more on his condition specifically. How long the seizures typically last, what to do during and after the seizure, and things I need to be cautious and aware of because of his condition. My thought wasn’t to leave because I was terrified, it was to do more. And I too, am traumatized to an extent. For the past couple days, I can’t stop thinking about it. I get flashes of his eyes rolling back, him thrashing, him not responding to me at the first signs of consciousness, but still looking directly at me. I may need therapy to help me through this, especially because he travels a lot for his job. But I am not going to give up. If you have a real heart for someone, you do your research. You do your best to make sure that you are prepared, and that you know the next steps to take. Whether it’s putting a pillow under his head, or suggesting to him to get an EEG done. If you truly love someone, and not only that, if you truly care about people in general, you would do at least something, instead of running in fear. I have accepted that seizures are incredibly dangerous and I may lose my boyfriend to one very early in his life. But that does not mean I’m going to leave and not do anything to help him. I’d do the same if my mom had seizures, if my bestfriend had seizures, or even a 3rd cousin had seizures. Running is cowardice.

  23. My boyfriend has epilepsy. I cried hysterically the first time I saw him sieze up. I was 22 and we are still together. I just learned to live with it and I got super involved in learning about siezures, triggers, medications… etc. I think if you really love someone it doesn’t matter.

  24. If you are a life guard, and are scared to help someone who needs the help! Then I believe you need a life guard to help you!

  25. A lifeguard who knows basic first aid and claims to have been in similar situations then immediately contradicts that statement by saying “but this was the most serious, BY FAR!” Her age is used as an excuse to bail multiple times which is a cop out from hell btw reinforced not only by others who most likely share a similar plethora of character defects as the author, but also by the columnist herself! I’m exactly twice the authors age and way back when this little thing called 9/11 occurred and just over a month later at the ripe old age of 25 I found myself in Afghanistan one of only a few very critical U.S. Navy FMF Hospital Corpsman serving in a USMC infantry unit where on many occasions, too many to count honestly, I was literally the only thing standing between a gravely injured human being and that which leads to the vast unknown of eternity itself! Many times my patients were members of the exact same terrorist organization that just a month prior struck at the very heart of my country, but I rendered aid anyway because my unspoken oath as a human being bound to all other human beings supersedes my fear, my disgust, even my hatred of some humans i.e. members of a terrorist organization like al-Qaeda! To do anything other would’ve placed my own humanity at risk and that is something I can never, ever do if I am to remain human within the confines of this finite body I only possess for a very short time. Btw on my 4th trip over to Afghanistan I suffered a career ending traumatic brain injury and guess what I developed roughly 6 years later? EPILEPSY!!!!!!! 1 in 26 people will develop a seizure disorder in their life & I’m telling you right now if he only had two seizures after being diagnosed an entire year than he’s probably the luckiest person with epilepsy I’ve ever heard of and his luck only seems to be increasing if this selfish sack of shallowness really did leave as quickly as humanly possible!

  26. My kids father just had one in the middle of night I was scared af but I helped him through it we just got back together to fix our family and his last one was two years ago I’m having conflicted feelings like do I want to deal with this what if my kids are in the car while he’s driving then when you choose to love someone and you tell them you love him it comes with responsibility just like we love our kids we have to take care of them to back up what we say and that’s why they take vows and say for better or for worse if you can really love a person at there worse that’s beautiful but that’s love not lust so I got his meds and let him rest I’m a Libra so I’m indecisive anyway lol

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