Mara is a lifestyle model who has been seizure free since January 27th, 2011. Mara has had seizures her whole life. By the time she was a teenager, she was officially diagnosed with Epilepsy after having seizures on a daily basis. It caused major exhaustion and concentration issues for Mara. In 2005, Mara had her first brain surgery, followed by two more surgeries in 2011. In the process of those surgeries she had her Amygdala & Hippocampus (primary functions that relate to memories and emotional reactions) removed from her brain. As Mara likes to put it, “because of this, you can’t scare me. LOL! No, seriously, I do not get scared but I can get startled.”
While Mara is now seizure free, she still has the aftermath to deal with and now she is getting to know the new Mara. Prior to her surgeries, she was an actress and singer & can no longer do that because of her cognitive impairments, which limit the amount of information she can memorize. Not being able to focus, remember lines, choreography & blocking, makes the ability to be an actress extinct. Mara stays active in the community as she is a Epilepsy volunteer and advocate for many organizations. She gives advice and comfort to others dealing with Epilepsy.
On the morning of shooting Mara, she was doing what she hopes to be her final EEG test. The EEG test measures and records the electrical activity of her brain. The electrodes on her head have sensors, which are attached to the wires. The computer records her brain’s electrical activity. When a seizure is happening, the EEG picks up the changes in the normal pattern of the brains electrical activity. Although Mara is seizure free and the need for an EEG test is no more, she still takes precaution. Everyday Mara wakes up, she knocks on wood because sometimes even she can’t believe she is now seizure free.
What do you wake up thinking about?
Today I woke up and literally said out loud, “Please tell me that I didn’t have a seizure while I was sleeping.”
What's your morning ritual?
First, I look at the time and wonder if I can go back to bed or not. I turn off the “do not disturb” function on my phone and get out of bed while checking if I have any important emails. If I do, I take care of those right away. Next, I take my meds, brush my teeth and wash my face, then head over to the kitchen. For breakfast, I either have a smoothie or spinach and eggs. I wasn’t supposed to have caffeine when I was having seizures, so thankfully, I can get through life without coffee. LOL!
How does social media play into your daily life?
I have a love/hate relationship with social media that I feel I sometimes have to have. For example, I have an Instagram account for my modeling. I feel as though I have to be active on social media since that’s how my business works now. Coincidentally, November is Epilepsy Awareness Month and ever since social media existed, I have made it my responsibility to post an Epilepsy fact every day for the entire month. For the purpose of raising awareness, social media is great. Many families (living with epilepsy) have found me that way, and I have become their support system. There is such a stigma with Epilepsy, which makes people scared to talk about it. Through social media, I am able to be the voice for all those who will not talk about it. With more awareness, (hence social media) the less misunderstanding, fear and discrimination.
Are we more connected or disconnected than before?
We are definitely more disconnected. I am more connected with people that don’t live near me and that I have not seen since childhood. In that sense, it’s nice. However, I feel we are more disconnected overall. There are so many distractions now that we cannot be completely connected. I miss the days of only having two ways to communicate; in person or on the phone. Now, you don’t even have to walk outside the house, which puts a barrier between direct human contact. Gahhh!
What is most important to you in life?
Finding something to laugh about.
Follow Mara: @mara.lynne