This post is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay™ which will run from March 1 through March 31. Follow along and add comments to posts that inspire you!
Thank you for reading my March blog post, and I hope you find posts from all the bloggers during this March blog relay both interesting and beneficial.
I’d like to talk a little bit about Epilepsy in everyday life. You may already know that 65 million people worldwide currently live with epilepsy. And in the United States alone, 200,000 people new cases of epilepsy are diagnosed each year.
Because seizure activity can be unpredictable and dramatic, people with epilepsy can become quite fearful of being out in public. Even if someone has only had two or three seizures, it can be common to live in fear that it will happen again. To avoid the possible embarrassment of having a seizure in a social situation, many people avoid social situations all together. I have spoken to a lot of people over the years and a number of them said that they have become isolated and depressed due to the fear of having a seizure.
I may be positive and cheerful these days, but at one point I did become very isolated and depressed, which has made me more passionate now about helping others. Nobody should feel depressed, isolated or withdrawn.
I believe that, like all of the changes in life, epilepsy can be looked at as a problem to be solved. Epilepsy doesn’t have to mean the end of “normal” life. People with epilepsy can find love, friendship, employment, hobbies and meaning just like everybody else. Someone once told me that nobody would ever love me because who would want to be close with someone who has epilepsy, because they can catch it themselves. Remember: Epilepsy is not contagious!!
I have a very strong “can-do” spirit and a willingness to work with the obstacle of having Epilepsy, instead of running away from it.
I always wanted to work at the City Hospital, and although I cannot drive and it meant getting a train then a bus, or two buses from the town I lived in. I chose to live in a village by the city where the bus service is more reliable. I also live very close to little convenience shops, which is great.
I always try and use my own story to educate people about epilepsy and what to do if someone has a seizure. I like to get involved with as much Epilepsy awareness projects as possible.
After having hundreds of seizures a day but still holding down a full time demanding job, I am living proof that you can still live life to the fullest and enjoy work despite having Epilepsy. Yes, working in a hospital is beneficial as they understand my condition more, but by educating others, other employers can understand too. Most employers can’t refuse you a job just because you have epilepsy. However, by law they must also ensure the safety of all their employees.
If you have seizures, you may not be able to do jobs that risk your safety or the safety of other people. These include:
- jobs that involve driving
- working at heights, near open water or fire
- Or working with unguarded machinery
However, if you have the right qualifications or experience and your seizures don’t put you or the people you work with at risk then you should be able to apply for most jobs.
It is true we can be limited in some of the activities we’d like to do, like swimming or driving, or taking part in a high heights activity. However, we can sometimes take part in these risky activities with a little assistance.
In July 2016 I took part in a Wing Walk for Young Epilepsy, this meant being strapped to the wings of a bi-plane and flying 500+ft in the air. I mean there are heights and there are heights! I needed to pretty much sign my life away. But in all seriousness, I had to go to see my GP who would declare whether I was medically fit to take part. At the time my seizures were fully controlled so I could go ahead with it.
If you decide to do anything like this please be careful and ensure you get the ‘ok’ from your doctor before taking part in activities or jobs involving heights.
In 2012 I made a personal commitment to share my story in the hope that I could provide information, insight and support as well as inspiration to others that live with seizures, and you can do this too. I believe that Epilepsy and other conditions do not define who an individual is. If I can make one person aware of what Epilepsy is and how it affects everyone differently, then it will be worth it.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
And don’t miss your chance to connect with bloggers on the #LivingWellChat on March 31 at 7PM ET.