Using My Voice to Make a Difference

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Jessica Chappell
Person with Epilepsy
Wednesday, November 10, 2021

I am 31 years old and have been living with epilepsy for 21 years, but I have no known diagnosis for my epilepsy. I am an international adoptee who was born in Colombia, a stepmother, and a dedicated epilepsy advocate. I work tirelessly within my company, a major drug retailer, to spread epilepsy awareness.

I was 12 years old when I was diagnosed with epilepsy, and at the time, I didn't really understand the impact it was going to have on my life. What I did know was that my parents were scared and upset, and that made me upset. I hated seeing them worried. It was hard for us at first, but it brought us closer together. I needed all the support I could get to get through testing, medication dose changes, and other aspects of managing my epilepsy.

I had no idea that my life would be so different than other people. Throughout my childhood, there were always restrictions. As a kid, I couldn’t have sleepovers or ride rollercoasters. At 16, I couldn’t get my learner’s permit to drive because I had a seizure four months before my 16th birthday.

Later in life, I had restrictions at work which sometimes caused issues in the early years of my career. I was discriminated against because I could not work overnight due to my epilepsy. Instead of giving up, I used that experience as fuel for my fire and continued moving up the corporate ladder.

Epilepsy can be very lonely at times, but there is so much information out there. It is critical to learn all you can and be an advocate for yourself. I feel empowered to help others. I have found my voice and use it to make a difference.

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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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