AED Side-Effects: Memory Loss – My Condition’s Darkest Devil

Although this story seems fairly adverse and looks at my life from its most depressive times, I really believe it’s leading me to what should be a true success. If you’ve never had to manage too many health problems, I guarantee it’ll also boost your knowledge on how side-effects can affect the lives of anybody. But please remember – memory loss is only the worst side-effect for me, and every other person with epilepsy deals with it differently.

One medical fact I’ve always agreed with is simple – epilepsy is a disability. And my anti-epileptic drug (AED) side-effects? I’ve always considered the reactions brought on by my medication to be the main issue that I have to deal with, rather than the epileptic seizures themselves.

Now, it’s not always too bad for me. Diagnosed when I was five years old, I only took the smallest dose of carbamazepine to begin with. For me, it had no side-effects, and everything was fine throughout primary and secondary school – a good time for me in my life. Nevertheless, something started to unsettle my head a lot more when I was around 17 years old.

Seizures started to arise more often, which meant I had to investigate what other AEDs were most suitable for me. This led on to a lot of new medication side-effects.

To be honest, I just can’t remember when it all began – but I reckon it was about ten years ago. Brought on by the side-effects of lamotrigine, in the past it has frustrated me more than any other health problem I’ve had to manage. For me, memory loss is the biggest pain of all.

Typical Situations

One important thing to say about memory loss is that I’m quite used to it now.

After my recent cut-down of lamotrigine, my memory might well be working a bit better than it was previously. But to keep it simple, I thought I’d list the key problems it’s brought on for quite a few years.

– I struggle to memorise the names and information about new or not-often-seen friends.
– I can’t remember very much about my childhood.
– I struggle to memorise passwords and data.
– I have a poor general knowledge, which I believe could be much better.
– I forget what lesser-used words mean, and struggle to read adult fiction quickly.
– I just forget to do a lot of other stuff as well…

Those are the problems I can think of – but please, feel free to check back and see if I’ve added anything else in the future.

Memory loss bothers a lot of other people around the world for quite a few different reasons.

It’s more commonly caused by anxiety, stress and depression. It’s often brought on by head injuries, e.g. after a car accident. Strokes also lead to less blood flowing to the brain, and can lead to the death of brain tissues needed to maintain your memory. Dementia and Alzheimer’s also lead to the problem, along with dozens of other conditions.

One question people often ask me is “is it short-term or long-term memory loss?”. From what I mentioned earlier about the typical situations, you might have worked out that for me, it’s actually both. If you’re interested in understanding the difference between both, then click here for more information at

My Good Friends!

Now, I’ll just be honest with you. The first problem I listed above has probably been the most difficult to manage. The fact is that if I make a good friend, get to know them a bit, but then don’t see them for a few years or so, then I’m really going to struggle to remember their name for that long. Even if we had a spell of meeting a few times at some point in the quite distant past – it just isn’t easy for me to record data on a long-term basis.

Me and my friends at a party back in 2011.

Walking around Sale or Manchester, there have been a fair few times when I’ve come across a friend who I’ve not seen for quite a while. They say, “Hey Joe! How are you doing?”. And my reply? “Hey mate! Yeah – I’m fine, thanks – are you doing OK?”.

Oh, the word ‘Mate’ – it’s felt like such a life-saver. So handy when I can’t remember an old friend’s name. And if I can’t remember your name? Well, it is a little sad to say that I’m very unlikely to remember too much about you either.

Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t – but please, don’t be offended if you realise I’ve forgotten quite a lot about you. I’m often happy to meet you for coffee later, and rebuild my memory of why we became friends to begin with.

Yeah! I Loved That Film, I Think It Was So Funny…

Yes, this relates to the second problem I listed. Although my sisters seem to have never-ending memories when it comes to recalling good films and TV, memorising what happens through many media-related topics I’ve either watched, heard or read before isn’t so easy for me.

But right now, I can’t blame anybody for talking about these topics when they’re simply not aware of what epilepsy is. Memory loss is something that can occur for a lot of reasons when you have epilepsy, and right now, people just don’t know that.



Throughout university, memory loss was a clear-cut problem – I simply didn’t have the courage to approach people. I knew I was always going to struggle to memorise the name and details of any person I met, and wouldn’t be able to get involved with many topics of their conversation. And there are so many people to meet and make friends with at university!

I really believe it only added to the problems that led to my seven years of mild/moderate depression. It’s often said that depression alone is a common side-effect of many AED’s, and I was also dealing with side-effects of fatigue and stress. All in all, my confidence flowed a lot lower than it ever was in high school.

In 2012, I managed to obtain a BA Degree in Popular Musicology, graded as a 2:1 from the University of Salford. I was happy with this fact, but ever since it all came to a close, I’ve known that my time at the university could have led to a lot of new friends.

Along with various media organisations, the University of Salford is now a principal tenant of MediaCityUK.

It’s fair to say that I was never too lonely, because I had my local friends to spend time with. I really appreciate those who stuck by me, and once again, could never blame them for my problems. Nevertheless, people who attend university often say that’s where their best friends were made, and today, I do wish I could restart my course again and make a whole load more.


Out of all of the side-effects that have taken their place, memory loss is what I’ve noticed more than anything. It affects me at different times, during every day: when I’m out with friends; when I’m out shopping; when I’m getting ready to go to town.

It very much feels like I’ve got a chunk of my head physically missing now. I mean, it is similar to losing a leg – people struggle to walk after losing their limb, and after losing my memory, I struggle to remember.

And once again, I want to make one thing clear – I’m totally used to it now. I personally believe that accepting yourself and every other person for who they are is spiritually important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

My time at university was a bit disappointing. But I don’t want to dwell on the past – I want to succeed in the future. Although student accommodation and heavy drinking isn’t such a good idea for me anymore, I can keep looking for some special people to befriend and socialise with.

My writer’s notebook has been a very, very, very handy tool to work with…

And after managing my epilepsy in difficult times, I want to raise epilepsy awareness. This means I have to go forth and start a successful blog, publish some e-books, and keep using my creativity to maintain the interests of many others.

Since I was a child, I’ve always felt very ambitious. And don’t forget – I’m still only 28. Despite the problems I’ve mentioned, a lot of my problems are in the past. I’ve still got plenty of time to get my career moving in right direction, and I look forward to better times.

Pen + Moleskine by Daniel Scally

MediaCityUK, Manchester, England by David McKelvey


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