Model Robyn Lawley regularly posts photos of herself on Instagram posing for glamorous photo shoots. But the post she shared Monday was different from her typical photos—it showed her face with several healing scars she received after experiencing a seizure and falling.
In the post, Lawley shared two side-by-side photos of her face. In one, her face is bloodied and scraped in several places. In the other, she has a noticeable scar on her forehead, lip, and chin. Lawley revealed in the caption that she had an accident two months ago, and implied that her lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome were what caused her to fall.
“There’s a reason I was public about my lupus and aps [antiphospholipid syndrome] diagnosis from the starts, a lifelong incurable (for now) condition I didn’t know what I or still am in for,” Lawley wrote. “I unfortunately had a seizure on my staircase, I fell from over 7ft and landed on my face. I suppose it’s ironic that I’m a model, however I’m grateful I didn’t break my neck.”
“I’ve managed to come full circle with that gratefulness, and luck,” Lawley continued. “I could of had it holding my daughter for example, or I could be in a wheelchair, or not breathing at all.”
Lawley also said she wanted to acknowledge and explain her scars before fashion week. “As the scars fade, a part of me wants nothing to do with them and a part of me wants to embrace them,” she wrote. “They make us who we are.”
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect many different systems in your body and, yes, it can cause seizures.
As an autoimmune disorder, lupus is a condition in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. There are different forms of lupus, but the most common one is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which can cause issues with your joints, kidneys, skin, blood cells, brain, lungs, or heart. (Antiphospholipid syndrome is a disorder that causes people to form abnormal blood clots that can block blood vessels, and many people with antiphospholipid syndrome also have another autoimmune disorder, such as lupus.)
With so many parts of the body possibly affected by lupus, it's not uncommon for someone with lupus to also have seizures, Howard Smith, M.D., director of the Lupus Clinic in the Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases at Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. “Usually, [that happens] in people who already known they have lupus," he says, but in some patients, a seizure is their first symptom of the condition.
It’s not entirely clear why some people with lupus have seizures, but there are some theories, Dr. Smith says. It could be that lupus causes antibodies to attack brain cells and cause dysfunction of the brain that sparks seizures. Or, a person’s lupus could affect their blood vessels, which can affect their brain and cause a seizure. Lupus can also raise a person’s risk of having a stroke, and it’s possible for a patient to have a silent stroke (e.g. one they didn't realize they had) that can cause scar tissue to form in their brain, prompting a seizure in the future, Clifford Segil, D.O., a neurologist at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells SELF.
If you have seizures related to lupus, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.
"Part of their danger is their unpredictability," Steffan Schulz, M.D., an assistant professor of rheumatology at Penn Medicine, tells SELF. Meaning, a patient can have a seizure and fall, like Lawley, or even have one while driving and get into an accident.
The best thing you can do is to work with your doctor to try to get your lupus under control, Dr. Smith says. That may mean taking medications such as antimalarial drugs or prednisone or other corticosteroids to combat inflammation, the Mayo Clinic explains.
If your seizures continue despite those measures, your doctor will want to put you on an anti-epileptic drug, Dr. Segil says. It’s also a good idea to try to avoid typical seizure triggers like flashing lights, Dr. Smith says, but it's often difficult to pinpoint the trigger for lupus-related seizures. That's why it's so important to develop a plan with your doctor for managing your seizures and all your lupus symptoms.