Student Shares Story of Life with Epilepsy

Photo Credit/ Melissa Curran ESU student, Jessie Havens, shares the truth of living with epilepsy.

Melissa Curran

Assistant Social Media Manager

Jessie Havens, a twenty-one-year-old senior rehabilitation and human services major from Hightstown, New Jersey, was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was five.

Her epilepsy began with petit-mal seizures, where she would temporarily lose awareness of her surroundings as well as daydream for extended periods of time.

At twelve Havens was diagnosed with grand-mal seizures, which is a type of seizure that is caused by abnormal electrical activity throughout the brain and causes the loss of consciousness along with extreme muscle convulsions that typically last no more than two minutes. 

Her doctors have yet to discover what the initial cause of her epilepsy was but have identified various triggers that cause her seizures.

Her triggers include heightened stress levels, consuming a high volume of alcohol, and lack of sleep.

In November of 2019 Havens had a seizure while she was sleeping in her Hemlock dorm, which resulted in an accident causing serious injury.  

“To sum it up, I fell out of my bed and pretty much just smashed my entire face. I had to get some serious facial reconstruction and I missed a lot of class because of it. Having so many seizures and hitting my head, my memory is poor and my language has been affected, causing me to have a constant stutter and mumble when I talk.”    

Havens is currently on four different medications to help control her condition.  

“I deal with a lot of side effects and get my blood drawn frequently. Being on all of these different types of high-dose medications is like a roller coaster.”  

Throughout her life, Havens has been put on as well as taken off various different types of medications. After years of trying to find what medications work for her, she still gets her medications and dosages changed frequently.  

As a rehabilitation and human services major, Havens believes that she can relate to the people she works with on a daily basis on a deeper level and says that she enjoys 

“Being able to relate to other people who have disabilities in general, even outside of my major. I feel that it is my way of giving back to all of the people who  have helped me and continue to help me throughout my journey with epilepsy.”  

“I think it’s really important to talk about epilepsy, I honestly don’t think that a large majority of people my age know what epilepsy really is. That’s why I’m trying to educate people about not only the disorder I struggle with but the disorder that many other people struggle with too. My condition is hard to talk about or to tell people about who don’t know me to a certain extent, but I try to bring as much awareness to epilepsy as I possibly can,” said

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. 

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