Over four years ago, my dear friend, Epilepsy, decided to repay me a visit.
For years, I struggled to get rid of her. She was everywhere I went. She was a parasite living deep within my temporal lobe who didn’t want to leave. Medicine after medicine couldn’t get her to go away so my doctor decided it was time to drill a hole in my brain. After the soft tissue of gray and white matter (the seizure focus, or area of the brain causing the seizures) was removed from my brain, I was seizure free for three years.
We did it! She was gone! At first, I could barely believe it was real. As each day turned, I was slowly convinced it wasn’t a dream. I was happy. Every day felt more beautiful than the one before it. I could go about my day untroubled that unconsciousness would settle in. The time without her was blissful, and my smile shined more than it ever had before.
But, I was slightly naive. I grew accustomed to her absence and forgot there was always a possibility of her return. I had already placed all the terrible things that happened under lock and key, and, ultimately, let my guard down. I thought I could only faintly recall the intense fear her presence would bring me, but pretty soon all the pain and sadness came rushing back in.
On December 9, 2016, I first achieved my three year seizure free milestone. Then, Epilepsy knocked on my door. On my birthday, December 23, all the progress I had made was erased. She opened the wound and continued adding salt. My body was reminded of the horrifying pain. My mind was overcome with all the terrifying memories. And, my heart was simply broken.
At that time, I felt defeated. I knew I tried my hardest, but it hadn’t been enough. All I could do was ache for everything I had gained and mourn because it was now lost. I cried for a good deal of the time and smiled so everyone could think I was okay. But, I wasn’t.
One night, as I laid curled on my bed, I stared at the bright light that shined through my window. I couldn’t see the moon, but I knew it was there. It was always there, and I suddenly found myself smiling in thought. It was there just like my family and friends have always been there, and how they continue to be here today. When I took a step, they took a step, too. When I would stumble and fall, they would be there to pick me up. They believed in me so I, too, needed to believe in myself. There wasn’t any reason why I should be in doubt.
So that night, I decided there were two things I could do. I could either succumb to the sadness and let it take me down a dark rabbit hole, or I could take what I learned through my hardships and make myself whole. In case you haven’t already guessed, I chose the latter.
On February 28, 2018, I had my last seizure. If I had let Epilepsy take control, I wouldn’t be writing to you today. I wouldn’t be smiling or crying from joy. I wouldn’t be celebrating my three-year milestone once again.
Living with epilepsy is one heck of a rollercoaster. The only difference is you don’t know when it will turn upside down, or if it will ever end. Going through the ride isn’t easy, but it also isn’t impossible. I doubted myself, but I remembered I was strong.
It doesn’t matter what ride my dear friend, Epilepsy, takes me on. I’m not giving in. I’m never going to go down without a fight. And, for all of you that are on the same epilepsy ride, remember I’m here cheering all of you on. You can do it. You can fight this battle and find happiness along the way.