“Life is not perfect; it never will be. You just have to make the very best of it and you have to open your heart to what the world can show you. Sometimes it’s terrifying and sometimes it’s incredibly beautiful. And I’ll take both, thanks.”
Graham Nash in, Zuckerman, A. (2008). Wisdom. PQ Blackwell Limited: Auckland New Zealand.
As a reaction to two tonic clonic seizures on Wednesday evening 3rd December, I searched the Internet for information about professionals achieving despite epilepsy. I found very little to no information. The reason is very simple; their epilepsy does not define who they are. They have had to work harder than most to achieve and maintain positions of responsibility. In many industries, the stigma attached to epilepsy is detrimental to career success and means that many people with epilepsy remain quiet.
You only have to read about Wally Lewis, well known Australian football player, who kept his epilepsy silent. Don’t get me wrong; I have huge issues with Wally Lewis’ “coming out”. I am in two minds whether I am proud that he kept playing despite knowing the risks, or whether I think what a stupid man. I understand that a head knock escalated the problem. And one other question… did he continue to drive during this? It is stupid enough that playing a dangerous game put him at risk, but what about the people around him?
Unlike Wally Lewis, many of us with epilepsy don’t have the option of brain surgery. I feel he is saying to the world, “My name is Wally Lewis. I had epilepsy but was too frightened to tell you all. Now, post brain surgery, I am under no risk of seizing in public. What a relief! Now I can help with epilepsy awareness.” In many ways, he is simply proving the point; that living with epilepsy poses problems far greater than dealing with seizures.
So I am making a daring choice to ‘come out’ and publicly reflect on my experiences living with epilepsy as I succeed in my professional and personal life. Perhaps in doing so, I might contribute to the growing awareness of epilepsy and encourage the success of other individuals who are struggling with any form of adversity.
I am looking forward to sharing and learning from you all!