I was diagnosed with epilepsy in the summer of 2009, right before I started high school. No one in my family had ever suffered from epilepsy so it came as a great shock to us, and it wasn’t easy to adjust at first. My parents constantly had an eye on me, which for a 14 year old can be a bit of a nuisance. But the thing I found most difficult was the way my body responded to the medication. I went through several years of high school, unable to stay focused, and often falling asleep because my medication made me severely drowsy. It started to affect my grades seriously and I became so frustrated that I began to rebel against the medication, often skipping doses. After that I suffered from 3 grand mal seizures, which, although they were very scary, were also a huge wake up call. I began to take my disease a lot more seriously, and with my neurologists help I was able to find the right balance of medication.
At the beginning of this school year I underwent neuropsychological testing and was formally diagnosed with a learning disability. This really helped me receive the attention I needed at school, and this year I’ll be finishing on honor roll for the first time. I’ve been accepted to my dream university, Queens, which I really didn’t think would be possible last year. Of course, I still struggle a lot with epilepsy because this isn’t a perfect story of me completely conquering my illness. But what I have learned about having epilepsy, is that it doesn’t have to hold you back from doing the thing you love. I’ve been a part of many sports teams in high school, my favorite being rugby, and joined several different clubs. Having epilepsy has also shown me what a great support system I have. My friends and family have all been amazing in helping me while I’ve been struggling with it (which sometimes includes having to wake me up in class), and my neurologist is the most amazing doctor I have ever had, he is such a kind soul and I’m so fortunate to have met him. I really wanted to share my story because, although it has definitely not been easy having epilepsy, especially growing up with it when not many of your peers understand what you’re going through, it really has affected the type of person I am today.