I have often debated with myself if it is best to tell people I have epilepsy or keep quiet. I would describe my view on this as pragmatic with a dose of cynicism. My epilepsy is controlled and has been for some time, and I suppose that allows me to be more pragmatic. In the 10 years I have worked for my current employer I have never told my boss or workmates that I have epilepsy. The only people that know (as far as I know) are my family and doctor. I have never felt the need to tell anyone else, so I don’t. Now the cynicism. Knowing my boss, I don’t for a second believe she (or most other bosses) would have hired me had a told her I have epilepsy. Would my workmates treat me differently? I think some would.
Today a bunch of us were sitting in the snack bar at the institution where I work. We gather there for 8 am break each day. Some have their breakfast, but I just drink a bottle of OJ and maybe bring an energy bar from home. There is the usual workplace gossip and chatter mostly about how overworked and underpaid we are.
Toward the end of the break I glanced across the table at Margaret. She is in her late 50’s and has been working at this place longer than I have. She had a small white pill in her hand which she quickly popped into her mouth and downed with the last of her coffee. Jerry, the guy seated to my right asked loudly, “what’s the pill for?” Margaret replied matter-of-factly, “it’s for my seizures, I have epilepsy.” Most of the others looked away, Jerry had a smirk on his face, and I stared at Margaret. I was completely surprised there was someone else working there with epilepsy, and I wonder if she will regret telling everyone she has it. I do know it took courage. I have kept silent all this time. She is braver than me.