It’s the perfect time to reflect on the past year, the hurdles we’ve overcome, all of the amazing people who have supported us throughout it all, and the joys that follow.
As I reflect on this past year, I recall the many stories so many of you have told me and there is one constant theme – inspirational.
One of those inspirational people is Virma. Read her story below.
Director of Development
My vegetable garden is my greatest joy in the summer months. On a warm morning in July of 2020, I went to my garden for a few hours to tend to my plants and enjoy the sunshine.
Suddenly, I woke up and hours had passed. People were hovering over me at the hospital and I could hear the gentle voice of my partner telling me that I had a seizure.
Everything was a foggy dream. My head felt as if a building fell on me and my muscles ached as if I had just completed the Ironman challenge. The loss of time was a mystery that played in my mind and I felt disoriented and confused. The other unsettling feeling was that it seemed as if my body was made of lead. It would not cooperate and I could not get out of the bed.
I was told that 911 was called and my seizure was status epilepticus. The paramedics administered some medicine to stop the seizures and then transported me by ambulance to the hospital.
I struggled to adapt to my new life with epilepsy. It had felt as if my brain was completely scrambled and that I was no longer the same. At times I got so frustrated that I was living with seizures, I wondered if it was worth being on this planet. I felt as if I was permanently injured and would never ever have a normal life. My partner Stephanie saw that I wasn’t myself and reached out to Epilepsy Toronto for support.
From the moment she reached out, we were welcomed with open arms. The support, compassion, and care we both received made this new path not as scary. In our sessions, our counsellor guided us both through understanding my diagnosis and the fundamentals of epilepsy. I participated in the UPLIFT program which was critical in helping me to use CBT strategies to cope with anxiety and depression that had drastically increased after the seizures.
The peer support provided through the UPLIFT program made an enormous difference in my life and that of my sister who I live with now. I learned that anxiety and depression was something many people with epilepsy also experience, but now I have the tools to cope with my seizures and the emotions that accompany my diagnosis.
Being able to include my partner and sister through the process meant the world to us. As time went on, we found out that we were not alone and that there is a whole world of people living with epilepsy. Finding this community has changed my life and the anxiety started to ease.
I remember arriving at Epilepsy Toronto’s Purple Walk this year, nervous and excited to meet some of my peers I’ve met through the online groups for the first time. Being around so many people who were living with epilepsy and their supportive family members almost moved me to tears. I felt hopeful for the first time in a long time.
At Epilepsy Toronto, I felt safe and supported. I have not only learned to manage my seizures but I also found a loving community in the amazing members I have met. Without Epilepsy Toronto I am not sure how my story would have unfolded. Knowing that they are here to support me and others living with epilepsy without fees or restraints makes me proud to be a member.
I truly believe that Epilepsy Toronto has saved my life. Now I’m excited to dig my hands into the earth and enjoy my garden again like I used to.
This holiday season consider making a donation to change the life of someone like me who is living with epilepsy and seizures. Please give generously and help Epilepsy Toronto be there for everyone who needs them.
Epilepsy Toronto depends on the generous donations from community members just like you. Without your generosity we couldn’t possibly run all of the free support programs and services for people living with epilepsy. You can make a difference and donate to Epilepsy Toronto today.