Marianne Richmond knows a lot about bravery.
At age 9, she experienced her first tonic-clonic seizure on her kitchen floor in Greendale, Wisconsin — the beginning of a ten-year journey with undiagnosed epilepsy. The MRI was unavailable in 1975. Most challenging, for Marianne, however, was her mother who, after experiencing negative side effects from an anti-depressant, rejected medical intervention altogether in favor of holistic therapies that unfortunately didn’t help.
Marianne lived in fear every day during adolescence, terrified she’d have a seizure in the classroom, at prom, or behind the wheel. She kept her health challenges a secret from everyone and hid in bathroom stalls when a seizure threatened (she experienced a twinge in her left pinky when a seizure was imminent).
“When I saw a classmate have a tonic-clonic seizure in 7th grade, I knew I had epilepsy,” said Marianne, explaining how the boy’s mom had come into the classroom to explain his condition. She shared her self-diagnosis with her mom… who disagreed.
The lack of maternal support took its toll on Marianne, in terms of low self-esteem and the feeling of being abandoned. “I was angry and helpless,” said Marianne, “and misdiagnosed with everything from a psychosomatic disorder to cerebral allergies.”
Finally, a tonic-clonic seizure in her college dorm room sent her to the ER where a doctor confirmed she had epilepsy and prescribed medication. Then 19, a legal adult, she gratefully took it and in doing so, took charge of her health. A couple years later, at age 26, an MRI revealed a benign brain tumor that she had surgically removed at Yale New Haven Hospital. She’s had no seizures since, though she stayed on medication for an additional ten years. “My security blanket,” she explained.
While recovering from brain surgery, Marianne began creating greeting cards for friends that eventually grew into the successful book publishing company she and her husband Jim ran for 16 years. In 2010, Marianne closed her business and partnered with Sourcebooks Inc., a Chicago publisher who currently prints and distributes her books. Over the past two decades, Marianne has written more than 50 books and touched millions of families with inspiring messages of love and encouragement. “Messages I craved as a kid and that I want my four kids to know,” says Marianne.
In her newest book, Be Brave Little One, Marianne honors her own journey as well as the power of courage in everyone. “Any choice, big or small, is courageous when fueled by the wisdom of our heart.”
During her national book tour for Be Brave Little One, Marianne is partnering with Barnes & Noble for an in-store and online book fair that will benefit two local chapters of the Epilepsy Foundation, Northern California and Minnesota, two places she has lived as an adult. She is honored to use her newest book to help bring awareness to this important organization.
Marianne has volunteered with the Epilepsy Foundation by teaching seizure first-aid to bus drivers, creating a team for the Rise Above Seizures Walk, and facilitating a Studio E group, an art therapy program for children and adults with epilepsy.
“If, through this book, I can encourage people of all ages to ‘find their brave,’ I am grateful.”