Life has taught me a lot. I have learned a few new things since I was first diagnosed with epilepsy at age 10. Here are my favourite life lessons for you.
I was okay with my initial diagnosis-mainly because I didn’t know what it was, and for me, I didn’t have anything to lose. I was no where near the age of being able to drive, I didn’t drink alcohol and I was still living at home, not working and starting senior school. But as I got older, that is where the diagnosis led me to suddenly live in fear and somewhat denial. My physical and emotional well-being took a turn. It was only once I began to truly accept my life the way it is, that I was able to focus on not just living but learning to thrive despite my diagnosis. To be the change I want to see in this world.
2) You are not defined by your conditions
A friend of mine who I met at The Young Epilepsy Champions Awards, named Scott Barclay, spoke out and quoted ‘I may have Epilepsy, but it does not have me’ and I have never heard anything so true. We are much more than the conditions we have. We are not defined by our circumstances. I may have seizures but, I am much more than a person with Epilepsy. I haven’t allowed it to stop me from getting the job I worked hard for, I don’t let it keep me indoors with the fear of having a seizure on my outings. I am who I am.
3) Don’t take anything for granted
My family member’s lives changed forever when they were told I had Epilepsy, their lives also stopped every time they got a call to say I was in an ambulance from work, or every time they heard a thud at home. I went from being a healthy young girl, sister, daughter, granddaughter, you know- to someone with an uncertain future. My life changed but I didn’t quite realise it. Now, instead, I try my best to treasure each and every moment as the gift it truly is, because you just never know. It’s hard, some days you can’t really see anything bright, but there is always something there.
4) You have to let go of your fear of the future
A BIG one for me. In order to begin living your present, you have to let go of the fear of what might come. Fear is debilitating. But why worry about something that has not happened yet, something that might not ever happen? Because it will only stop you from enjoying what is happening here and now.
5) Live Life
I may not have control over how many seizures I have had over the years, or when my next one might strike, but how I face this challenge is in my control. A colleague of mine took me aside a few days ago and told me, if you look at the limitations that Epilepsy can give you, your quality of life will suffer. She told me to focus on my abilities , my ability to smile, to laugh, to make others laugh and to work hard, my life will brighten up. Focus on what your condition has given you the opportunities of-for example, I have met hundreds of amazing individuals through my Epilepsy. I was able to create my Epilepsy support group with my friend Gurvinder, which I never could’ve done if it wasn’t for having Epilepsy myself.
6) Always maintain hope for the future
Having hope is one of the strongest things you can have. It brightens the dullest of days, and it allows you to power forward to what great things will come. Hope of a cure, and of better research, of understanding.
7) The lesson of life purpose
We all have a life purpose , sometimes it takes a while to discover it! I found a few years ago that writing, speaking and working within health is what I am here for-for now! When we act on our talents, we notice that success comes more easily. I never knew writing was what I am here for until my first piece of poetry ever got published. I never knew Piano was my thing until I learned a song by ear. When you find your purpose you will know it-because you will LOVE what you do. You will no longer regard work as a job.
8) Everything happens for a reason
Find meaning in your challenge. I believe that there are life lessons in every circumstance joyous or otherwise. Obstacles present themselves for a reason and the experiences that these difficulties bring, allow us to evolve.
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” ―C. S. Lewis
25 yr old monthly columnist on Living Well with Epilepsy. Full time worker of NHS England.
Emily’s Perspective is a snapshot of what life is like living with Epilepsy. I was diagnosed with Epilepsy at the age of 10.
Based in UK.