To Reveal or not to Reveal

I will be starting graduate school on Tuesday. I take 150 mg of Topamax and it causes a fair amount of problems with word search and speech for me. To be fair, maybe if you did not know me you would not notice, but I am very, very aware of not being able to find the word I want when speaking, or getting lost mid sentence with my train of thought.

I am going to school in a fairly competitive and tough program of Occupational Therapy and I am 54 years old so also have :slight_smile: .

Should I just pretend all is well…This is me :slight_smile: I am BLOND! Or do you think I should tell people about my MAV and meds and what the side effects are? Or do you think they will perceive me as trying to have an excuse? Ugh!

So much to think about and this MAV does not help. Eventually they will probably find about it. The class is 40 people and we will be together for the next 2 1/2 years. There is no way I will be able to keep this under cover. Just wondering how long I should try, or should I try at all.


I’m a physician, and I take several meds for MAV. I don’t tell people at work what I take or talk about the side effects (the amitrip makes me feel overheated sometimes so I often want rooms to be cooler). I say I’m hot-natured. I have word finding problems sometimes but probably not as bad as someone on Topamax. I’m blond too, so that doesn’t help :slight_smile: Since I work closely with other physicians, I think if they knew what I take, they’d be pretty surprised. Before this happened to me late 2008 I never took anything like these drugs - just OCPs and Ambien that I’d refill about twice/year. I just had to do a drug screen for work and am so relieved that my test is reported as negative once I provided proof that the benzo is prescribed.

I tell people I have chronic migraine and that I take preventive medication. They don’t ask for more, and I don’t offer. One thing I’ve learned is that a lot of people have something that makes them function less well, even if it’s only occasional. I’ve seen people with bad allergies suffer more than me. Also, autoimmune disorders, other migraineurs who don’t realize how bad it is and that they could try to do something about it. Not to mention people going through a divorce, caring for a very sick child, etc.

Also, I accept that I’m not as smart as I was in my teens and twenties. I can’t speak for others, but it’s harder for me to learn and study than when I was younger, and I don’t think much of that is MAV. I’d have a hard time getting through medical school now, esp with kids.

Good luck!

If it were me, I’d drip feed information as and when and purposely not make a big deal about it to start with. We ourselves are always much more aware of things than other people so I bet they won’t notice half as much as you think they will. It’s often our own self consciousness that is the problem not that others are particularly noticing our shortcomings. Further down the line, once you’ve got to know people more and them you, then yes, feel freer to say more.

I’m also of an age that I understand exactly what you’re saying about brain fog! I don’t take meds though so I don’t have the added effect of Topomax side effects that you talk about. In your shoes, yes, I’d feel as concerned as you do about lack of ability at word recall etc but I still think I’d play it cool to begin with and then gradually give out more info if I felt it absolutely necessary. Sometimes I’ve regretted saying too much too soon. And I realise that at times I’ve dug myself a hole by saying too much. I’m not saying pretend, just wait to see how it pans out and play it by ear but have a sentence or two in mind as to what you might say should the occasion arise.

Good luck with your studies. I must say I have the greatest respect for you going for it like that. :smiley:


Hi Lisa,
Congrats on OT school! How exciting. You will get very close with your classmates and they will eventually know all about you, it’s inevitable :smiley: But you will also learn everything about them. Grad school is a lot of work and pretty stressful (I graduated from physical therapy school in 2008). I got so close with my classmates and they knew all about my dizzy spells when I was having issues with it. I needed their support. Frankly my professors knew about it too. It was fine, we all have our issues. I supported my classmates when they were going through difficult times as well. It’s how we all got through it together.

Realize your stress levels will probably go up, and that may make your migraines worse. So try to find a way to deal with stress and find ways to relax. Take time for yourself. Let me know how things go! I love it when people get into the rehab field! It’s so exciting.

Congratulations on getting into graduate school. I am actually doing my pre-reqs to get into graduate school right now for occupational therapy and have been wondering myself on how much to reveal. Only in that it was my whole mav journey that has lead me to the field of OT. It is a challenging school to get into and you should be so proud of yourself. I am also on Topamax and worried about taking the a & P series this next year.

Good luck in school.


I don’t see why it’s such a big deal to let people know you have migraines that cause dizziness issues. We all have issues and sometimes it’s nice to confide in people and let them know where you are coming from. Especially if you aren’t feeling well for some reason. But I can understand that if you are in a job that might see you as “sick” and not productive because of it, it might be better to keep things quiet. But in graduate school, I just don’t think there are the same problems.

Personally, at work I would try and keep things under wraps as best I could. Eventually, that became impossible because I passed out a few times during auras. A lot of people equate “migraine” with “Oh, I have a bad headache” and nothing else, so in instances where I need to say something I choose to say “I have a neurological condition that causes [insert issue here]”. The vast majority of the time, that’s enough and it’s the end of the conversation. People I trust and have become friends with will probably eventually know more, but not the general public. As far as Topamax (I was also on it during grad school), I found that while I felt issues, no one else seemed to notice anything strange. It never became an issue, but I suppose if it did I might give some info. I always worried about getting treated differently or even fired from jobs if people knew.

Thanks for all of your wonderful comments…as this is not a work environment but rather school, I guess I will just have to see how it goes. As one of the commenters mentioned, this type of schooling is ‘close-quarters’ and we get to know one another very well. It will be amusing to myself to see just how long before I ‘spill the beans’. Probably the first day (tomorrow) when we sit in some kind of a circle to introduce ourselves and I can’t spit anything out that makes sense. :roll:

Honestly, my brain is so tired already just getting ready for school, I wonder how I am going to manage this. I am scared out of my wits. One day at a time…shoulders down. Chin tucked back and in. Eyes forward. Back straight! Deep breathe.