Mandy Jones’ life has been a challenge.
Throughout her childhood, Ms. Jones might have six to eight grand mal seizures a month. A grand mal seizure includes a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions, according to mayoclinic.com.
Now, she has about one complex partial seizure per month.
During a complex partial seizure, a person cannot interact normally with other people; is not in control of his or her movements, speech or actions; doesn’t know what he or she is doing; and cannot remember afterward what happened during the seizure, epilepsyfoundation.org reports.
Ms. Jones had a Vagus Nerve Stimulator device put inside her chest 11 years ago to help slow the seizures. The device leads through her throat and hooks on to the stem of her brain, sending regular small pulses of electricity to her brain.
She said when the seizures slowed, it took a lot of her mental anxiety away. Her paranoia once drove her crazy and she couldn’t go to sleep in the dark on days she had a seizure, she said.
Expressing herself through art also has helped with her anxiety.
Ms. Jones started taking art classes in junior high school and earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from The University of Texas at Tyler. She was widowed after 11 years of marriage and has 16-year-old twins, Susan and Ashley.
“I’ve always wanted to start a business,” she said.
Ms. Jones started Challenge House in a studio in front of her Tyler home in 2007. She said she hopes to help others with disabilities because art gives people tranquility and confidence and helps them be independent.
She teaches art therapy classes to individuals now but hopes to start teaching full classes as her business grows, she said. Ms. Jones can teach someone to start learning how to draw, as well as create art with mediums, including charcoal, watercolor, pen and ink, acrylic painting and pencil.
Charcoal is her favorite medium because she likes the expression it allows, she said.
Ms. Jones joined others Wednesday in selling her artwork and crafts at the Creative Careers Artisans and Craftsman Show and Sale at the East Texas Center for Independent Living in Tyler.
Ms. Jones volunteered for the East Texas Center for Independent Living for eight years, doing mostly office work.
She has been writing a book for 11 years. “Elevator Chase” will be about her life with epilepsy, she said. She already has created the cover for her book — “The Elevator” is a charcoal creation that expresses how she feels when she is about to have a seizure, she added.
Ms. Jones said she would like to start selling more of her crafts at art shows outside of Tyler, such as Edom, and is looking for a partner to help her.
She can be reached at 903-565-0772 or firstname.lastname@example.org.