My epilepsy started when I was 12 years old. In grade 7 I had my first tonic clonic seizure. I remember feeling very, very negative towards myself. I thought that it was going to be completely debilitating; that epilepsy was just going to control my life. It was a very depressing thing in the beginning.
Now it’s not such a scary thing.
Joining the youth support group changed a whole lot of the way that I thought about things. I needed people who understood what I was going through. Just being in a room with people that were willing to share their stories and who have gone through almost the same thing as me, helped me realize that the world was not completely empty of people like me.
That might have been the biggest influence on my choice to go into social work. I have epilepsy, I have a bachelor’s degree, and now, I’m working on getting a degree in social work.
The teachers and my classmates are wonderful. I’ve met a whole bunch of new people. Every single class that I go to, the first thing that I do is tell them about me and my epilepsy. I go to my professors before class and say “Would you mind if I just take five or 10 minutes in the beginning of class to talk to people about me and my epilepsy?” And then I give them a low down.
It scares me every time. The first few minutes, my voice is vibrating.
But after I’ve had that conversation I feel relieved, especially because a lot of them ask questions. I like when they ask questions, because it means that they have really been listening.
A lot of the times, they have given me a standing ovation. Yeah, that’s usually what happens.
It feels … wonderful.
I’ve always strived to help people as much as I can and I think giving knowledge is just something that’s helpful to everyone; whether it’s learning what a seizure is or learning what 2 plus 2 is. I think if you’re willing to push yourself there’s a lot to be gained. I’ve gained more and more of a sensation of giving happiness; and giving happiness to other people gives happiness to me.
*stories have been condensed and edited