I had my first seizure at the age of 19, I was down the gym at the time, I recall my legs giving way and falling to the floor. I remained conscious throughout this experience and I was understandably embarrassed. I knew that something was not right so I sought advice from the GP and was soon referred onto the Neurology department at the hospital. I underwent the usual MRI and EEG scans. These were soon returned, confirming that I had the condition Petit Mal Epilepsy (Muscle Jerks).
My world was turned upside down when the Neurologist told me the news. I was not upset with the diagnosis but more so with the news that I would have my driving license revoked for approximately 12 months. I remember being distraught about this at the time and was angry that someone could take away (what felt like) all of my independence.
I was studying at University at the time and was half way through a degree. I commuted with an hour’s drive away before my diagnosis. The diagnosis meant that I now had to get public transport which took 3 times longer. The amount of time this took and financial strain this had on my life meant that I deliberated on many occasions dropping out of University, especially during the winter nights waiting for my train home.
I feel strongly that not enough support is provided for Epilepsy sufferers within this age bracket especially surrounding the loss of independence felt as a result of the diagnosis. However, I would not be contributing to this if I did not have anything positive to add: It has been 4 years since my last seizure. I take medication every day and will continue to do so for the rest of my life, but that is ok because it makes me feel better.
I also persevered with my inability to drive and after a gruelling 14 months my license was returned to me. I also managed to get through my degree with a 2:1, but this was not easy and certainly tested my determination to see things through to the end.
Since this time, I have continued with my studies and I am coming to the end of a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Epilepsy will always be a part of my life but I am determined that it will never control my life.
The condition can certainly put building blocks in the way, but it should not have the ability to prevent people from reaching their goals. Don’t give up people!