Married with two kids, and a business owner with a graduate degree. I appear to have life pretty much in order. However, none of that came easy. It was especially difficult because I am an individual living with an invisible disability; I have epilepsy.
Not every disability is visible, including mine.
I go about my day like any other mom: driving kids to and from school, cooking, cleaning, and working.
This is one of the challenges of having epilepsy; no one knows you have it unless you tell them. For those that do not understand epilepsy, they might not think there is anything really “wrong” with you.
Epilepsy showed up in my life in various forms.
My personal journey with epilepsy started when I was in junior high. At the time my parents and I had no idea I was having simple partial seizures which involved having Deja-Vu and visual aura experiences. These seizures are different from the grand mal seizures that most people associate with having a seizure. There are actually quite a few different types of seizures.
It wasn’t until I was a junior in High School when I had my first grand mal seizure. The worst part is that I had my seizure in the middle of Chemistry class; lost consciousness and fell onto the floor right in front of everyone. Of course, I don’t remember anything until I regained consciousness and ended up in the hospital which began my treatment for seizures.
I’ve been through plenty of MRIs, CAT scans, and sleep-deprived EEGs. All coming back normal leaving everyone wondering what is causing my seizures.
All of these events increased my anxiety.
I pushed away friends, I stopped doing things I once enjoyed, I felt like I was not going to be able to enjoy life like I used to. I suddenly was constantly worrying about having another seizure. Yes, I was afraid of getting injured while having a seizure but sadly what worried me the most was the embarrassment of other people seeing me, judging me, and thinking I was “weird”.
Being a Mother with Epilepsy has its own set of challenges.
When you have symptoms of forgetfulness, excessive fatigue, or you just had a seizure you can be stuck in bed and lose your driving privileges for 6 months. Being a mother with epilepsy can be especially difficult.
Over the years, my seizures became controlled by medications. Also, I have a better understanding of what triggers my seizures. Sometimes I can be triggered by flashing lights, a lack of sleep, too much stress, and even my menstrual cycle.
There’s no way I would have written this blog for everyone to read just a few years ago.
There have been times when I have felt like my seizures hold me back, slow me down, keep me from doing what I want; especially after having a seizure. I would always feel helpless and defeated. Sure, there are a few things I avoid doing like swimming alone or staring at a strobe light, but I continue to step out of my comfort zone in order to achieve my goals.
As I continue living with epilepsy, I have learned to not allow it to define me or control my life. I’ve noticed that those who have learned about my condition or have witnessed a seizure have not gone running for the hills or stopped being my friend for being “weird”.
If anything, epilepsy has taught me that it is ok to be myself.
March 26th is National Epilepsy Awareness Day!
Just like any invisible disability, epilepsy can make the person who suffers from the condition feel alone and misunderstood. Even though statistics show that about 50 million people are living with epilepsy around the world. Epilepsy Awareness Day was created to help educate the public on true facts to aid in the end of misunderstandings and discrimination. It also brings awareness to the need for improved treatment and research. You are able to learn more about the day and epilepsy on the national site.
This day is a great day to become more educated on this medical condition!