High school isn't just about studying and doing well in your classes. It can also be about learning more about who you are through sports, extracurricular activities, friendships and relationships with significant others.
Having epilepsy can be a pain, but it doesn't have to be a problem. Keep reading for suggestions and tips on facing different situations like asking for rides, getting involved in after-school activities and even avoiding stress and seizures.
Remember, you might be someone who has epilepsy, but epilepsy shouldn't control you and it shouldn't keep you from doing anything you want to do!
How to ask your friends for favors
One of the biggest downsides with epilepsy in high school is not being able to drive. When everyone around you is getting their license, you may feel left out. Remember that most people with epilepsy do get to drive eventually – you may just have to wait a little longer.
If you live in the suburbs -- or in a place where a license is necessary for getting around -- you'll probably need to ask your friends for rides. It can feel awkward to always have to ask for a ride, but unless your friends were the first people in your class to get a license, they've probably spent a lot of time asking others for rides too!
You may find it's easier to ask for rides if people know why you can't drive yourself. It's best to be honest and let them know that you have epilepsy and that for a little while, you're not allowed to drive.
Here are some tips for asking for rides without annoying others:
- Ask nicely. Just because someone gave you a ride yesterday doesn't mean they have to give you a ride every day. If they're busy and they can't give you a ride, thank them nicely – don't get angry – and try to wait a week before you ask for another ride.
- Offer to pay for gas. Gas prices keep going up, so if you offer to help pay for gas, you may discover that giving you a ride becomes less of a hassle. If you do offer to pay for gas, make sure the driver knows how much you're offering in advance – you don't want to get stuck paying for a full tank for just one ride to school in the morning. Also, if you offer to pay for gas, make sure you have money. If you're going to need rides regularly – like to school every morning – you might want to offer your friend and his parents a certain amount of gas money each month in order to help out.
- If you ask for a ride, be ready when the person comes to pick you up or show-up at the meeting place a few minutes early. You don't want to make them wait!
- If you're trying to subtly hint that you need a ride and the person doesn't seem to realize what you want, it's ok to come right out and ask as long as you do it politely.
You might want to let them know that you'll be happy to return the favor of free rides as soon as you get your license or are able to drive again.
If you're still having seizures or if your medicine makes it difficult for you to take notes, you might also need to ask your friends to borrow their class notes. Make sure they know you need their notes because of the epilepsy and not just because you were doodling!
Ask your teachers too if there's any way you can get course notes. They may photocopy the notes of one of your classmates or provide handouts.
High school is a great time to start getting involved with various after school activities and organizations that interest you. Not only will getting involved help you think about what you want to do for a career or college major, but being involved in projects and clubs that highlight your talents can help you get into college too.
It's up to you if you want to tell the organization's faculty advisor (usually a teacher) about your epilepsy. If you expect the club or activity to require long hours, like the campus newspaper, or lots of travel, such as band or cheerleading, it's probably a good idea to tell the campus advisor and at least a few other students.
If you need to take a break during any activities, don't hesitate to let your coach or faculty advisor know. The important thing is to keep yourself healthy and keep your seizures under control.
If you get busy with lots of activities, you may find it's hard to take your seizure medicine at the same time each day. You may find it helpful to set the alarm on your cell phone or purchase a watch with an alarm.
Knowing your rights
Epilepsy is no reason to keep you from any activity at school. Your school should not use epilepsy as an excuse to keep you from playing sports, joining after-school activities, taking field trips or participating fully in your classes. Even if you're still having seizures, you can still take Driver's Ed – as long as you stick to the driving simulators and hold off on actual driving until you're seizure-free.
If you think your school is using epilepsy as a reason for discrimination, talk to your parents. Together, you can decide on an effective course of action, such as talking to the principal or the school board.
You can also learn more about your rights concerning education here.