Epilepsy Does Not Define You

Jaylin shares her story about how she does not let epilepsy define her
Jaylin Ruiz
Person with Epilepsy
Tuesday, December 21, 2021

My name is Jaylin Ruiz, I am twenty years old, and I have epilepsy. I had my first seizure at the age of 13. I honestly thought I was having multiple asthma attacks, but it was not until a few months later that my younger sister found me violently convulsing while I was supposed to be asleep in the early hours of the morning.

Although that was my first seizure, but certainly not my last, I did not get an epilepsy diagnosis until I was 15 years old. My neurologist thought I would grow out of it, especially with the medicine I was prescribed at that time. It was not the easiest transition to go from being a normal kid to a sick one. I felt out of place and was restricted from doing the things I used to do so easily.

I was also told that it was going to be a lot harder for me to do things when I got older: driving, drinking alcohol when I was older, drinking coffee, or having a baby when I am ready. I allowed myself to fall into submission to my epilepsy, and I thought it was going to be the thing that broke me.

Like most people, 2020 was an extremely difficult year for me and my family. I lost my job, I could not go to school or see my friends, and we were confined to staying home all the time due to the pandemic. The stress of the unknown contributed to my seizures being the worst they had ever been. I went from having a large seizure every 8 or 9 months to having 30-second seizures 10 to 20 times a day!

I honestly thought I was going to die. I did not understand what my body was going through. It was not until I realized that my seizures were stress-induced, and I had a different form of epilepsy, that I started to take control. “Mind over matter” is the most helpful way of thinking for me. Once I turned that mindset into behavior, I stopped having seizures. I am writing this today almost 11 months seizure free!

Epilepsy is the thing that propels me to exceed the expectations placed on me, even the ones I place on myself. I still take my medication and live a healthy lifestyle to help my mental health. I used to be so ashamed to tell people I have epilepsy, but looking back over the past eight years, I have grown and learned so much.

I thought I was alone in this, but as it turns out there are 3.4 million people who have epilepsy, so there is a community out there who understands and supports one another. I want to help spread confidence that epilepsy is not what defines you and it will not cripple you. You are more than your diagnosis and your medication. You got this!

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Reviewed by: 
Sara Wyen

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The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

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