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Epilepsy Blog Relay: Taking on Imposter Syndrome and Epilepsy

Imposter Syndrome and Epilepsy

Currently, I am feeling like an imposter. For those who do not know, imposter syndrome is defined as “is commonly understood as a false and sometimes crippling belief that one’s successes are the product of luck or fraud rather than skill”. When I think about my epilepsy, I can often relate to the idea of Imposter Syndrome.

Feeling Alone

I have spent most of my adult life advocating for epilepsy. I remember when I was re-diagnosed back in 2006, and knew no one that had seizures like me. It wasn’t until 2011 that I met my first few friends with Epilepsy, thanks to the Epilepsy Foundation’s community chat forums.

Seizure Freedom

In past Epilepsy Blog Relays, I have shared about the complicated goal of seizure freedom. Honestly, I know I am blessed and fortunate. I have been seizure free for over 8 years, and rarely have any complaints. I do have memory issues, and currently am working through those with a LOT of reminders, sticky notes, and calendar requests that I share with my husband..

Early Seizures

Also, the majority of my life I have lived seizure free. I was born at 28 weeks- in the NICU for two months, and had seizures throughout my stay- however my next one wasn’t until I was 5 years old. Then, the following one was when I was 21. 16 years of freedom, and at that point doctors believed I had outgrew it.

Imposter Syndrome and Epilepsy

When it comes to imposter syndrome and epilepsy, these thoughts have been creeping into my brain for quite some time now:

  • Why have I been seizure free for so long?
  • Do I really have epilepsy?
  • Why are children dying from epilepsy?
  • Why was I able to be on the swim team for years without a worry?
  • Why am I able to drive?

Educate and Empathize

These questions/beliefs of being an imposter have been a constant during this season of my life. I am not sure why. However I do know a few things. I am in a position now to educate and empathize with other people with epilepsy. I am able to support (virtually and physically) families who are newly diagnosed. It is hard to continue to remain positive sometimes when living with epilepsy. But its also generally hard to stay in the negative mindset.

Here are my suggestions:

  • Instead, focus on the positive.
  • Remind yourself, “I can help others.”
  • Remind yourself, “I can take care of myself.”
  • Remind yourself, “I can make smart choices to help my chronic illness.”

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “It’s about not getting stuck in the thought of ‘I can’t do this,’ but making sure that you take action and move forward.” Remember than self-doubt can be paralyzing. You can make efforts to move forward instead of getting stuck in the imposter cycle.

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