I grew up with epilepsy, having seizures weekly and sometimes more than one seizure in a day. Anti-seizure medication didn't control my seizures. I struggled academically and got tired after having a seizure. I often fell asleep in school due to having a seizure or because my anti-seizure medication made me sleepy.
In my junior year of college, I had the opportunity to undergo tests to determine if I was a candidate for brain surgery. After finishing preoperational testing a few months later, I discovered I was an excellent candidate for the surgery. Less than a year later, I underwent brain surgery with the hopes that it would stop my seizures. Although I am still on anti-seizure medication, I drive and live independently. I have three college degrees and work full-time as a special education teacher.
Developing social relationships and friendships has been important in my life. While I could have a seizure around people I don't know, it is worth it, in the long run, to be in social settings so I can meet people and develop friendships. It can be challenging to be out in public with epilepsy, but there are things you can do to help. You could wear a bracelet that says that you have epilepsy so that if you have a seizure in public, people who are physically close to you might see your bracelet. If you join a group of any sort and attend activities, let the group leaders know about your epilepsy and what they should and should not do if you have a seizure. I have found that most people appreciate me telling them about my epilepsy.
I hope that by sharing my story about living with epilepsy, others will learn more about what it is like to have seizures and understand the emotional, social, and academic struggles some people with epilepsy experience. I encourage others with epilepsy to seek answers and ask about treatment options by seeing multiple neurologists. Join epilepsy support groups, either in-person or online. Live an active life to the extent possible. Try new things, such as engaging in community activities, going where you can meet people, or participating in a sport if you can.
Most importantly, I want you to know that you matter. Each person has value and a purpose in life. I hope my story can inspire people with epilepsy, including parents of children with epilepsy, by sharing how I dealt with epilepsy growing up and how I got to where I am today.