I Won’t let Epilepsy Ruin my Life
A shaking mess whose soul has left their body writhing on the floor. Without a constant flow of medication, that could be me.
Those who read my articles know I have a passion for cars. It is a defining characteristic of mine, and one I will not give up. But there has been a dark truth to myself ever since my elementary school years. I have epilepsy. I try not to let myself be defined by my condition. For the most part, I have gotten over it. But growing up there was one thought that never left my head, “will I ever be able to drive?”
It was a thought I could not shake no matter how hard I tried. Over the years, the seizures started to become more controllable and I had hope. However, fear still resides in me. If I have a seizure while driving, my life, and the lives of those around me are in severe danger. All it takes is one. One seizure and the best-case scenario is I lose my license for two years and I must be seizure free for that time. The worst-case scenario is death, even worse is the death of others.
I was in fifth grade when I was diagnosed. I have absence seizures for the most part (three to five-second black-outs where I have no recollection of anything). When I was diagnosed I was having 200-300 every day. In eighth grade, I had my first full body seizure, I was babysitting a child and all of the sudden I woke up in my own bed. I had collapsed and been taken home by my parents. Fast forward to now, and I have them in complete control. It could change, but for now, I don’t have to think about it much. It is hard not to, though.
How do you shake a part of yourself that will never be beaten? How does one let go of a nightmare that has the bite of a Pitbull? For me, the answer was to accept that epilepsy is a part of me. For a large part of my childhood, I was told my nightmare would end at fifteen. The doctors told me most escape the grasp of epilepsy by then. My 15th birthday marked the day I would have epilepsy for life. It wasn’t the best birthday, but at least the cake was good. After that, I had to either accept that epilepsy is a part of me or wallow in sadness forever. I chose option one. Some things in life cannot be changed. Just as I will never be able to change when the sun rises, I cannot change that I have epilepsy. It is not bleak, it’s the way it is.
Medicine still understands little about epilepsy. For a condition that affects over 3.4 million people at its lowest estimate to be so poorly understood is a tragedy. Why is so little known about this condition and why don’t people talk about it? The answer: epilepsy is easy to hide.
Not many people know I have epilepsy. I hide it well. Epilepsy for most has a small effect on how our brains function. 99.9 percent of the time, we are like everybody else. It is that point one percent we dread. The point one percent that can make us feel naked and exposed to those who will judge us.At least that is what my brain tells me every time I could bring it up.
I am writing this because I don’t care who knows anymore. Yeah, I have epilepsy, it is a part of me. I don’t particularly enjoy it, but I don’t let it control me. I will keep on driving, keep on moving forward, and keep on being seizure free. One day, a cure may be conceived. But until then, I will just keep my head up.