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!
As I lay in bed every night, I say some prayers. I try to find 3 good things to be thankful for and 3 bad things that need extra prayers. This is so helpful, especially on bad days, to put life in perspective and remind myself that there is good in life. As you can imagine, there’s tons of things on each list that I can include in my nightly routine. On both of those lists, you’ll find epilepsy.
You can probably guess why epilepsy is on the “extra prayer” list. I wish so badly for a cure, that I had an intact memory to work with, that I didn’t have to take medications and deal with their side effects, that I didn’t have to wonder whether my headache is a seizure or a not…the list goes on and on. But, can you guess why it’s on my “thankful for” list?
Thankful for Perspective
Epilepsy can be pretty bad. It’s frustrating, exhausting, and, sometimes, relentless. But I know that it could be worse. I could be less controlled by medication. I could struggle with daily living and not have the freedom that my medication allows me. My triggers may not be identified and I may not have a warning for my seizures. I could be so much worse off. Having epilepsy has pushed me to acknowledge what is important and what isn’t.
Despite all the bad things epilepsy brings, there are things that aren’t so bad. I’m incredibly comfortable in hospitals. Pharmacists in every city I’ve lived learn who I am quickly and know who I am before I get to the counter. (Seriously, it speeds up the pick up process so much!) I have a unique knowledge of the body and the brain that I wouldn’t have without epilepsy. The smell of EEGs doesn’t phase me. This list can also go on and on…
Thankful for the Community
I’ve worked closely with the Epilepsy Foundation of Western/Central PA. The people in this office are so kind, funny, and sweet! I love them all and they have extended opportunities to me that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve met CEOs of companies, congressmen, and everyday people who are passionate about epilepsy and supporting those who deal with it.
Working with this website has introduced me to some inspiring people who write for this site and others who live their lives to the fullest! The community I’ve become immersed in is irreplaceable; despite our obstacles, we are always here to support one another. I am thankful for the friendships I’ve gained.
I’ve had the opportunity to speak with friends and strangers about epilepsy, educating them and working with them to spread awareness and knowledge. I’ve been forced to get creative with my life, finding unique ways to remember my medication and to succeed school. Many of you know the challenges that school brings to those of us with special needs and I’m proud to know a perspective as a student and as a teacher. This insight helps me help others. I could not do it so well if I didn’t have epilepsy.
Thankful for Each Day
I’m thankful that epilepsy has shown me how to endure and overcome any obstacles in my way. Living with epilepsy is not always easy, but it is always worth it. I’ve gained patience with myself and others. I’ve felt love from others in a unique way; caring for someone with epilepsy can be difficult. I appreciate life a little more because I know that, especially with epilepsy, each day is something to be thankful for.
There are plenty of reasons to hate epilepsy. For me, there are just as many reasons to appreciate the impact epilepsy has had on my life. Has epilepsy given you anything you are thankful for? Share in the comments below!
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Leila shares stories on stigma and epilepsy based on her experiences and what she hears from others. She was diagnosed with Epilepsy at age 8 and is based in Pennsylvania.