Overcoming the stigma associated with epilepsy can be especially difficult. Many people are simply not aware of epilepsy or what it means to have seizures. While negative attitudes can be incredibly hurtful and discouraging, there are actions you can take to help combat this stigma.

Open the Subject Yourself

By bringing up the topic yourself and clearing the air, you will make both yourself and the other person feel more comfortable. If you are positive about the subject, he or she will become more willing to engage in a conversation. Chances are that the other person will be naturally curious. By getting the topic out in the open on your own terms you will allow the other person to feel comfortable talking to you and hearing what you have to say. If you are comfortable with the subject yourself, the other person will take their cues from you and become more comfortable as well.

Don’t Stay on the Subject

Try to change the topic once you clear the air. You are far more than an epilepsy patient, and this will allow the other person to see the full you! It will draw the attention away from your epilepsy and give him or her the confidence to maintain a conversation with you without feeling awkward. Allow the other person to know that you are not defined by your condition and it is only one aspect of who you are.

Use Humor

Don’t feel pressured to dwell on the subject or make it appear overly serious. Try to make a lighthearted joke about your condition early on in the conversation. You might find that the discussion process becomes easier and quicker for both of you as a result

Don’t Let Bad Anticipations Rule Your Life

This is perhaps the most important advice. Expecting rejection can only increase the chances of rejection. Make an effort to show people your complexities and how interesting you are. By helping people understand your situation, you are increasing the number of people who can understand and help others with epilepsy moving forward. Live a positive life without the fear that others will only associate you with epilepsy. The more positively you view your own life, the greater the chance that others will emulate these feelings.

NEXT: How can getting enough sleep and eating well help a person with epilepsy?  Learn about it on our page dedicated to Surviving.