“My ﬁrst seizure was in November 2017 after a reaction to pain medication. After taking 1/2 of the prescribed dosage over 24 hours, I attempted to prepare dinner. During that process I passed out. When I came to the paramedics were there asking me questions that I was unable to answer because I had lost the ability to speak and move independently. My ﬁrst seizure lasting 2 1/2 hours started while being transported from the house into the ambulance in a wheel chair. I was unable to respond but I could hear everything that was going on around me. I remember hearing one ER nurse saying “Oh, she’s just stoned” and walking away.I was admitted to the hospital and was in ICU for 4 days. During this time I experienced multiple lengthy violent painful uncontrollable exhausting seizures. Once the CD diagnosis was conﬁrmed, I then spent 2 weeks in rehab working with an occupational therapist and physical therapist relearning how to walk independently and care for my personal needs. I needed to use a walker. I needed assistance bathing. I needed to relearn how to prepare meals for myself.
My seizures were violent and lasted between 2 and 3 hours. I was unable to control my body movements voluntarily. Even though I could hear, I couldn’t talk or respond to commands, couldn’t open my eyes, couldn’t swallow, had diﬃculty breathing and it felt like electric shocks were going through my whole body. During each seizure, it felt like my body didn’t belong to me. I had NO mind/body connection. While my body was convulsing, I was some place else in my mind. I had completely disconnected. I was unable to feel pain no matter how hard someone tried to get me to respond to a stimulus. I had ‘checked out’ physically and emotionally during each episode. I had no control of my body. I could’t make the jerking stop. While each seizure felt like a release, there was never any relief.
The real challenge came when it was time for discharge. It was recommended that I go to a psychiatric hospital as there were few options of qualiﬁed professionals that knew how to treat PNES. Most of the people in my world (family, friends AND my primary care physician) never heard of CD/PNES. Finding someone to treat me was a long process. Then Dr Afra Moenter came into my life. After several Skype sessions with Afra, I ﬂew out to meet with her and start the hardest journey of my life. She told me that the easier part of PNES is getting the seizures to lessen in duration and frequency (and she was so right!) However, I was beyond skeptical. I was in denial. I was scared. I felt lost. No one understood how I felt or what I was going through until I started regular sessions with Afra. She listens. She understands. She truly ‘gets it’! She helped me to acknowledge the pain that I had pushed down throughout my life. She has taught me to how to pay attention to my body. She has taught me how to keep breathing when I start feeling stressed. She has taught me to be kind to myself. She has a unique way of listening to my issues. She has helped me get to the core eﬀectively with empathy and compassion.
Some days are more of a struggle then others. I continue to work with Afra. She is my ‘lifeline’. I know that she is there to help, support and guide when needed. I no longer feel the need to be ‘comfortably numb’. I no longer feel like I am sleepwalking through my life. I am able to deﬁne and acknowledge my threshold of tolerance. I am learning to let the thoughts that tend to ‘activate’ me, pass through while remembering to be kind to myself. I have come to understand that the ‘body keeps the score’.
I am conﬁdent that my PNES is going to be another chapter in my life that I am going to have closure to within the near future. As I continue my journey to healing, it is with the conﬁdence that Afra is going to walk the walk with me as long as needed.”
“Seizures ripped through my world when I was 18, in my first month of college. From doctor to doctor, I was first misdiagnosed with epilepsy. I was diagnosed with PNES 8 months later. The seizures were off and on for 8 years. I had up to 15 a week, lasting anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes each. That wasn’t even the full extent- the seizures were accompanied by paralysis, loss of speech, blurred vision, back spasms, and cloudy thinking. Going to work became torture. Driving was out of the picture. I avoided friends and family, because I didn’t know when I would cry, scream, or fall into an episode. When the seizures returned in 2015, I was beyond distraught. I was desperate to work with someone who had even heard of PNES. Finding someone who knew how to treat it didn’t even cross my mind until I found Dr. Moenter.
I remember walking into her office on the first day- I had a seizure on the plane that morning, and another was starting when our session began. We spent the next 90 minutes making sure that didn’t happen….I never had another seizure again after that first day. I’ll never forget what she said to me. “You never have to have another seizure again.”
Dr. Moenter taught me to calm my physical self, be compassionate to myself, and not suppress my emotions. We did meditations. She taught my me about why they were happening. She empowered me to be happy. Truly happy. Working with Dr. Moenter was a great experience. Not only did she share her knowledge of PNES with me very patiently as I asked over and over, but she was so compassionate. When I had angry days, she would stay firm but could always see my pain lurking under the anger. She makes herself available to her patients. I wasn’t just a number to her- I was a hurting person whom she truly sought out to help. I always felt that she had my best interests at her heart- how much she cared was so obvious in every interaction. For someone as lost and as in pain as I was, how Dr. Moenter developed her relationship with me is likely a good chunk of why I even ever decided to start listening to her sage advice.
I now live a seizure free life. I changed careers for a job better suited to my newly discovered self and LOVE going to work. I’m no longer afraid to drive. Not only have I reconnected with old friends, but made new ones. (And managing relationships isn’t an exhausting chore anymore!) While I still have the occasional bad day of anxiety or low-level activity, I feel lighter, happier, and more myself than I have in well over a decade. It feels like a miracle to love myself and my life again. This program changes lives.”
Alyse Q. Roswell, Georgia
“I had my first seizure in September of 2015 and was fortunate enough to get diagnosed in November of the same year. The diagnosis and explanation of it was about the shortest you could ask for. The doctor walked into the room and told me I had “pseudo seizures”, explained that they were most likely stress induced and told me he would send a psychologist in. This exchange was done in no more than two minutes. After the diagnosis, the seizures would continue to invade my life for the next two years. It left me unable to hold a job, I could no longer drive, social obligations were difficult to keep, and it strained my marriage. My seizures varied a bit in how they would present themselves.
Typically, I would lose the ability to walk, talk, see, and most other movements as well. They almost always showed up in clusters, it was never just one seizure and I was done. I could have a set of three, which was common, or I could have up to 16 in a week. They could last anywhere from 25 minutes to 5 and a half hours per seizure. I was never injured from them, but the level of exhaustion and pain that your body is in afterwards lasts for days. After a couple unsuccessful years of different doctors, therapists, medications and treatments I finally came across Dr. Moenter online and decided to contact her. I was so impressed with the fact that she scheduled a time to call me simply to answer questions about her work and what I could expect. From then we began doing weekly Skype sessions.
From my very first Skype session with Dr. Moenter, I already knew that I was committed to working with her and working towards seeing her in Colorado for treatment in person. She is not only highly educated and extremely intuitive but she also has a very clear understanding of PNES. After the first session with Dr. Moenter in person, I knew I was in the right hands and I knew progress was going to be made. No matter how little or how much progress was made, it was going to be worth it. She taught me how to breath to calm myself. She showed me how to pay attention to my body so I could feel the precursors to a seizure before it ever started. For the first time in 2 years, I feel like I can really start preparing for my future without worrying that I will never be able to do the things I want to do most. My last seizure was on September 4th, my first session with Dr. Moenter was September 6th, and I am happy beyond words to say that I haven’t had a single seizure since!!
As of today, I am 6 months seizure free! Not only that but I am off of my medications, I am driving again, waking up without worrying if I will have a seizure, and making plans with friends and family again. I am learning to understand and be true to myself, to be comfortable with emotions, and to stop holding myself back. My day to day anxiety has been so much more manageable with the tools that Dr. Moenter has given me to work with as well.
One thing that I love about working with Dr. Moenter is how open and available she makes herself to you. She is genuinely concerned about her patients and truly improving their quality of life. She is fully present in your sessions and focused on nothing but you and doing everything she can to teach you the skills you need to live a seizure-free life. I have even had times come up early on working with Dr. Moenter, where I was panicking about a job I had and she worked with me to remain calm via text and I made it through just fine. I thought that if it was even possible it would take me years to get my life back and my seizures under control. With Dr. Moenter it was a matter of weeks and I couldn’t be more grateful.” Tiara J. Des Moines, Iowa
“I had seizures for a year and a half before I was diagnosed with PNES. My first seizure happened to me when I was 23 years old, on a regular night after work. I assumed I had the seizure because I was exhausted from working three jobs. However, I continued to have seizures several times a week the following months and was soon diagnosed with Epilepsy. I found this odd to be diagnosed in my early twenties but was happy to at least have an explanation. When medications were not helping and my seizure activity continued to increase, my neurologist referred me to a specialist who then diagnosed me with PNES. (I feel fortunate that I was diagnosed relatively early on).
At this point, I had already quit working because of my seizures. I was constantly exhausted—physically, emotionally, and mentally. I could not drive and I couldn’t focus because I was having seizures every day that would last up to 15 minutes. I never felt fully alive to be honest. Before I met Dr. Afra Moenter, I felt so angry that everything in my life at that point was still connected to a past trauma. I felt ashamed and weak and the last thing I wanted to do was have someone judge me about all of this. However, I never felt pressured or judged by Dr. Moenter and from the very first session I felt safe to express all of my thoughts and feelings.
Dr. Moenter taught me helpful ways to remain grounded when triggered (I doubted these at first but they have been keeping me seizure free!) and helped me find a daily meditation that gave me strength and courage. I had never felt connected to anyone or anything and I had been carrying the weight of my trauma with me for as long as I could remember. Dr. Moenter patiently listened to me and helped me talk through my most painful memories. I had never had anyone listen to me like Dr. Moenter before and offer such positive and truthful insight. Before I met Dr. Moenter I felt hopeless about the rest of my life and thought that I could never recover from my trauma or my seizures but am blown away at how different I feel today.
I have been seizure free for five months and I have found a job where I am able to contribute without overwhelming myself. I have learned how to breathe properly, how to create boundaries for myself, and how to listen to my body. I still struggle with memories from my trauma, but I can now handle them thanks to these techniques that I have learned. Overall, I feel like Dr. Moenter gave me my life back and I will forever be grateful for this.”
“Before my seizures, my life was pretty normal. I was working in the music and fashion industry. I was trying to balance my life stresses and thought that putting all my feeling down and moving on was the best choice. Obviously I was wrong. I was a pretty happy person on the outside, but on the inside it kept building and finally exploded with these seizures. First, doctors thought it was migraines until my sister and my boyfriend witnessed it firsthand. I was admitted in the hospital for about 2 weeks.
I had never remembered my seizures or experiences. So when I had become conscious, it was hard to remember where I was or who I was. My parents had to fly out from Pittsburgh and everyone was scared in the process because none of us knew what was going on. Being only 25 years old and really healthy, I thought I was avoiding these health issues. Finally, after EEG’s, CT’s, and MRI’s, I was diagnosed with PNES. No one in my family heard or knew anyone who had this disorder. After my diagnoses, my life completely went in a different direction. The guilt, anxiety, depression, and all of my past traumas came up to the surface. The saying “when it rains it pours” defines these moments in my life. I never felt so low, lost, and vulnerable in my whole life.
I went from being so independent to completely dependent. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t be alone, and really you sacrifice so much of your every day life. I didn’t know how long I was going to have this for or how I was going to get better. I was having 3-6 seizures a day and they were pretty violent. I don’t remember them at all but they happened at the most random times. I would just remember being lost outside of my body and not knowing how to return. Again, I had felt extremely lost and defeated. My sister had to quit the job she thrived in to take care of me full time.
After I was discharged from the hospital, it was so hard to actually find the proper psychological treatment for PNES. All of the therapists that we had contacted were nervous about my seizures and would not accept me. My mom let go and let the Universe take control. She finally came across Dr. Moenter’s website and reached out immediately. I had an appointment with her in a matter of just a couple days. My family and I went in all together. I was nervous beyond belief. She pointed me out right away and knew energetically where I was. I was not fully here and she knew that. Within the first month of Dr. Moenter’s treatment, my seizures had decreased rapidly. She was always there for a text or a call outside of her office, which was so reassuring for me. My seizures went to once a day to once a week. Then by the 2nd month of twice a week therapy, my seizures were gone. I really do feel like I am starting to get control back and learning who I am. Since I use to have no control over my body, we used grounding tactics and the feelings of what is happening in your body. We learned the triggers and the pre symptoms of these episodes.
Being conscious of my body, mind, and the contact with the Earth helped me learn more about myself. It gave me power to not go into these episodes but to stop them. My seizures were an indication of my soul leaving. That was a hard thing to fully comprehend and was not an easy journey. After you are seizure free, you feel more in control and more powerful within yourself. It helps me deal with the feeling and situations happening around me. I know that no matter what, this PNES will not defeat me, but help me learn who I truly am. In the current therapy now with Dr. Moenter, we are really diving deep into the trauma work to heal and to feel empowered again. I still am healing. I still have work to do, but Dr. Moenter showed me how to be seizure free.
I have been seizure free since May 26th 2018. Dr. Moenter is literally my mother willow. She is so approachable, available, and truly cares about you and your well being. She has brought me so much knowledge, peace, and calmness back into my life. She is giving so many tactics in order to handle the stresses and challenges that are happening and to handle future ones. We have a strong and beautiful relationship. I highly recommend Dr. Afra Moenter for your treatment.”
“I lived a life with minimal health issues until I had a seizure at work one afternoon. I didn’t know it was a seizure until I headed to the emergency room that evening. After traumatic diagnosis of brain tumors, quick surgery a grand mal seizure immediately after surgery and one a few months later, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I had many seizures that seemed to hold me prisoner. I couldn’t sleep, they happened at work making me feel self-conscience and often caused me to be unable to drive. I entered Epilepsy monitoring units, did at home EEG sleep studies, but still, a diagnosis of epilepsy could no longer be confirmed due to the volume and types of seizures I was having.
Finally, I was diagnosed with PNES. This diagnosis caused a great deal of concern and after doing research on the internet, I was very uncomfortable with how I was being viewed. I was very hesitant to see a therapist as, for me, I was brought up as thinking seeking this type of help is a sign of weakness. As well, will all I had read regarding PNES, I had begun to think I was the cause of my seizures and if I caused them, maybe I could just fix things myself. I realized this was bigger than anything I had taken on before and I needed help. My first visit, I was very uncomfortable but Dr. Moenter learned where my comfort level was and found ways to earn my trust. In my first month, I learned how to be comfortable within myself and realize it was possible not to blame myself for the situation I was in. One of the key techniques I learned is how to feel when a seizure is coming and how to counter the feeling with relaxation. This has helped with seizures that occur when I am awake and also ones that occur when sleeping.
Today, although I cannot say I am seizure free, I used to average 30 – 40 seizures a month, I now have 3 or 4 seizures in 6 months. It is such a welcome improvement and I am very grateful. I have started a new job and have not been on driving restrictions for at least 6 months. Although I still have the worry of when a seizure may occur, it is not with the same frequency that I feared before and that has helped me live a much more productive life.
Dr. Moenter is a very caring and compassionate individual. She took time to understand my needs and gently pushed/guided me along paths I needed to travel to gain a deeper knowledge of my new life. Dr. Moenter has a keen intuition into a person’s inner being, able to key in on the slightest physical changes as we talk to note when something is happening within me. I have appreciated experiencing a personal aspect to our relationship while understanding there is a professional standard that must be maintained. This has helped to build my trust along the way which is difficult for me based on my background.” Carolyn G. Denver, CO
“After a traumatic brain injury I started having seizures. Once the grand mal seizures stopped, due to medication, I was continuing to have activity I couldn’t explain. My symptoms terrified me by taking my breath away in gasps, feeling a bone crushing sensation, and making me feel like I was shaking when I wasn’t. I stopped driving for over a year and found it very hard to be social, because I didn’t want to describe to others what I was going through. I went over a year, having these attacks at minimum five times a day, before being diagnosed with PNES.
The same day I was informed of PNES was when I learned about Dr. Moenter’s service. The first session we had together I spent the whole time crying, because in my time being diagnosed I had never met someone who could relate when I described my body aches, but also said I could live a full life with it. She said I would drive again, and I am now. She taught me how to listen to my body to keep my activity at bay. I learned how often my body was responding to things I wasn’t addressing in my personal life.
Today I am over a year seizure free. Although I still have some symptoms of PNES, I can mitigate them and predict their arrival, because I’ve learned my triggers. I can drive, which I thought was an unattainable goal when I started therapy a year ago. I also now have the tools to explain my activity to others, and be at peace with the boundaries I’ve set to maintain my body’s ease.
Something I didn’t realize would be a part of the healing process, that was greatly aided by Dr. Moenter, was recognizing the role of self love. To consider epilepsy as a separate part of myself, a part that I could hate, wasn’t conducive to moving forward. I had to learn to love it as a part of me, and respect it like any other part of me. Dr. Moenter has provided me with good emotional education, and has shown how that applies to seizure triggers. I feel comfortable talking about personal issues that don’t just involve seizure activity. She impacted my life way more than I ever expected when we started working together. I would certainly not be where I am today if it wasn’t for her.”
“Before I met Dr. Moenter, I had seizures multiple times a day for six months. I don’t remember those months very well, but what I do remember is being worried and embarrassed. I couldn’t go to class alone; my aunts and uncles were nervous to leave me alone with their kids. Everyone was looking at me like I was going to break all the time. My boyfriend wouldn’t even leave me alone in the shower (for good reason); my life was melting away. I didn’t understand why my body was doing this. I knew from a Neurologist I saw in the ER they weren’t normal seizures. They weren’t seen on an EEG, so I couldn’t understand how they were real. I couldn’t see how it was ever going to get better, if they aren’t “normal seizures” and I can’t get medication, how can I get better? It was my second year in college and I hadn’t fully finished a semester yet due to stress, and now, I didn’t believe I was ever going got be able to.
Once I met Dr. Moenter she explained to me what they were. What I remember from our first meeting is her getting in my bubble of personal space. I was about to have a seizure and she “distracted” me so I didn’t. That moment I realized that these were something I was actually going to fix. It didn’t take too long for the seizures to start to diminish. I meet with her now at least once a week. I finally made it through a semester of college. I realized they stemmed from something deeper, and she has been helping me work through things I have been hanging on to a long time. It has been a few months now since the last time I have had a seizure, and I have noticed more and more changes every day. Dr. Moenter is easy to talk to. She has a way of calming me down, and stop these long stories of “what ifs” that play in my head. She makes me laugh, and helps me see things for what they are. I have a hard time pulling real issues away from small problems. Dr. Moenter has a way to communicate these things with me. She knows when to tell me things straight up, or quiet my thoughts till I get there.”
“In the Spring of 2016, I began having severe seizures. For a year and a half, I was bouncing between doctors with no diagnosis and no answers to why I was having seizures. After undergoing a week long EEG with no seizure activity, a diagnosis was inconclusive. In high school, I would have an episode in class about every other week. My ERT team would be called, along with paramedics. People soon began to recognize me as ‘the girl who has seizures’. But once college came around, I was having multiple episodes a day. It got so bad that my family and I made the decision for me to move home and get some help for my episodes. Around the time that I discovered what PNES was, I also came across Dr. Moenter.
Upon meeting her for the first time, I was astounded that someone was finally able to understand what I was going through. Dr. Moenter sees you as who you are, not as a statistic, and I believe that is just one of the several things that sets her apart from others. Dr. Moenter has shown me how to forgive myself, not be ashamed, how to look after myself, and has helped me grow as a person. Most importantly, she has helped and supported me to being 6 months seizure free. I am living a completely different life now, and it is all thanks to Dr. Moenter.”
Are you ready to take the first step toward a seizure free life?