November is Epilepsy Awareness Month, which means that it’s a perfect time to learn about what epilepsy is, what causes it and how you can be an ally to someone who has it.
I was diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) in February of 2018. JME is a specific kind of epilepsy that develops in the brain between the ages of 15-25, although you may not have a seizure until later on in life. For me, my first seizure wasn’t until I was 18. However, I don’t want to talk about my story.
As open as I am about my epilepsy and my struggles with it, the purpose of Epilepsy Awareness Month is to create awareness, not dwell on my own life experience and try to force you to give me sympathy.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by head trauma or a neurological defect. It is diagnosed after two seizures have occurred, and can be treated with medication or cured with brain surgery. Many people with epilepsy, like myself, cannot take the surgery route due to the fact that their seizures are sporadic, and don’t happen in just one area of the brain.
While many people are aware of the fact that epilepsy is a seizure disorder, the lack of representation and knowledge given to the general public makes it so many people are unaware of what epilepsy truly is.
Epilepsy is more than seizures. It’s hundreds of dollars in medical bills. It’s memory loss that leads you to forget about assignments or plans with friends. It’s drowsiness and lack of motivation. It’s depressive episodes and being angry with people for no reason. It’s more than seizures.
If you, a friend or a loved one starts exhibiting the symptoms of epilepsy, I urge you to see a doctor immediately. This includes dizziness, blackout spells, staring spells and even one seizure/seizure-like episode. Do not wait, do not let these problems continue, get screened for epilepsy as soon as possible.
Although having a disability such as epilepsy is complicated and tough, it’s part of who I am. I embrace the challenges head on, because it’s something that I know was meant to happen to me for a reason.
If you believe you or someone you know may have epilepsy, please visit a doctor right away, or read more about your symptoms through the Epilepsy Foundation at Epilepsy.com.