I know I have written many pieces about how awful epilepsy, seizures, and medications are. This piece, as the name states, is slightly different. I was thinking about it and realized there are a few good things that have come out of this awful diagnosis.
1. I learned at the age of 13, without any real drama, who my real friends were (you know, for teenage friends that don't stick around after high school ends).
2. I learned compassion that most teenagers don't have. I learned how awful some people's situations are by starting to go to a support group only a day or two after seeing a neurologist for the first time. It was scary to be around new people (I'm very introverted and have had anxiety since I was six) but even though it sucked, I met people dealing with epilepsy for decades. Relating to them made me more understanding than I already was (always loved the medical field) about what people can be forced to go through.
3. I learned how to speak up for myself and later on, others as well. I wasn't like this at first, I hid my seizures as much as I possibly could. It wasn't easy but most people didn't know at first. My epileptic seizures have never been super common. In the nearly 10 years with them, I had 0-3 a month. It never went above that.
4. I learned how medication decisions are made... by weighing pros and cons. For example, my very first medicine worked. I was seizure free for nearly 5 months on it but they took me off of it because of my mental health deteriorating on it. I was extremely depressed. I thought, since I was 13, "It's making me not seize so why are you switching it?" I didn't think becoming depressed was an issue despite the severity. I thought it was normal for people to want to die. That was the only medicine that ever gave me seizure freedom but there's no point in using it if you don't want to be around anymore.
5. This realization is both humorous and shitty... at least I can't drive. It sucks BUT I don't have to pay for car insurance, maintenance, or gas. Yes this means I have to find other ways around and hope they work for me but there's a local bus for people with disabilities. I have used that and gotten help from family since I was 18. My grandma wanted me to feel like a typical 16 year old so she let me drive in an empty parking lot. I had a seizure behind the wheel. Luckily, she pulled the emergency break so neither of us got severely hurt.
6. I learned how to teach people. I put in a lot of effort to learn. Even with my introverted nature, I began to teach people in high school about epilepsy and seizures in general. It took years to get to the point of advocating but it is definitely worth it! After all, how can awareness be spread without those truly affected sharing their knowledge and experiences? Sure, there are doctors who spend years of their lives going to school to learn but everyone has a different experience with anything in life but especially when it comes to medicines and health issues.
7. I didn't know this until I saw a neurologist for years but doctors don't have all the answers. If a doctor seems to have all the answers to everything you ask, BE SKEPTICAL! It doesn't matter how long they went to school, as I said above, everyone is extremely different. I'm happy I learned that at a young age (around 15-16) because it has helped me know if I'm seeing a good doctor.
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