KristenI suffered my first tonic clonic seizure November 12th, 2015.
I was a mess. My world was upside down. I had just been diagnosed with epilepsy. I was let go from two different jobs. I lost friends over it. The stigma, everything. And then, I found out my best friend, my grandmother, was dying of cancer. I never thought I would find a sense of peace; I was depressed.
Then I found Playhouse. Wow.
After my grandmother passed away I wanted to get a memorial tattoo for her, so I went to Playhouse Tattoo Studio. The waiver asks ‘do have a medical condition?’. You have to tell the artist, so I told her ‘I live with epilepsy’. She was completely awesome - It was a great experience.
I had been on disability for three years and felt like I didn’t have a sense of purpose. So I started looking for reception jobs and I saw Playhouse was hiring. I applied. I had the interview and we were vibing, everything was cool. I could talk to him. Then I said, “OK I have to tell you something - I live with epilepsy” and he's like “OK”.
I’ve been working there since January and my bosses have told me that they're so happy that they had the opportunity to hire me; and that they can't wrap their heads around the fact that I was let go because of a medical condition, because I am one of the hardest working people they’ve ever met.
They’ve all been so supportive. On Purple Day everyone wore purple. John bought me flowers and I got a raise.
When I recently took a day off (June 15) for the Purple Walk, they decided to close the shop for the day. On the busiest day of the week, a Saturday, they’re closing down the shop to support me in the Purple Walk.
My workplace has made me feel more comfortable saying I have epilepsy because they all accept me and they continue doing their best to educate themselves about it. When you finally find a support system, it’s like this rejuvenating feeling. It’s unreal - I’m forever thankful for them.
It took me 3 years to realize and accept that epilepsy doesn't change who I am as a person. I live with epilepsy and it is what it is.
It's not the life sentence that I originally thought it was. Because of organizations like Epilepsy Toronto and events like the Purple Walk, the awareness is finally coming to light. Finally.
*stories have been condensed and edited