“I breathe in my courage and exhale my fear.”
I have lost count of how many times that I have approached my husband and told him how I have thought just how much I wish there were a way to travel back in time to the moment of my epilepsy diagnosis. If I were given the ability to speak to myself in that very moment. When fear set in like ink bleeding into water. Like a gasp of air stolen from my lungs unexpectedly. Like an icy chill rushing over and around me. This epilepsy diagnosis was the biggest, grandest challenge I had ever had to face in my entire life. I was terrified. I felt as though I stood firmly on a long stretch of road. Behind me was where I had come from. Where I could no longer return. The past. Ahead of me was where I was headed. The journey I was about to embark on. Not knowing what to expect. In writing this article, I am able to turn and look back behind me and to be the most honest, I am amazed at how far I have come in almost 7 years on this journey. I am a strong advocate for not revisiting the past. However, in this instance, I believe it to be a positive mechanism in overcoming fear, strengthening, and motivating yourself. It is vital that you don’t revisit the past and allow it to drag you down or change you in any negative form.
I was diagnosed with epilepsy days before my husband and I’s birthday and two weeks before Christmas Day in 2008. He and I were newlyweds of 4 months. I remember the day the doctor came into the room to give me the news that I was not prepared to hear. Since I had had a grand mal seizure at the age of 16, and this grand mal seizure paid a visit again 6 years later, I would now have a diagnosis of epilepsy. Feeling as though all of my senses in my body suddenly failed me collectively and my heart and jaw hit the floor together, I was in a complete state of shock, confusion and fear. It was an experience like none other. “Is this really happening right now? This is a bad dream. A very bad dream.” But I wasn’t waking up from this supposed dream. It was real. It was the moment that I realized I had to face a cold, hard, challenging reality.
I had zero skill at carrying the weight of this heavy load. Unprepared for the challenge that lie in wait for me. However, there was no choice. My family too. They were unprepared for the journey to come. Yet, all of us knew we had to be strong.
I was the only one in the family and even the friends that were in my life at that time, to have epilepsy. I had so many questions in the very beginning of the journey, knowing very little.
“Can they fix this?” “Will this ever end?” “Is there a chance I could die?” It was not an ideal way that I wanted to live my life.
Over a period of time, I allowed my thoughts to escape away from me and I became depressed. It was hard to socialize or be out and about. So often, I would curl myself in a ball and cry or kneel at the end of the bed and pray to God for help or mercy.
I am so blessed even so I must say. Within the storm of depression, I felt the love of God, the love of my entire family and an immense amount of strength and faith inside letting me know that I was at a crossroads and that it was up to me to choose which path that I ultimately was going to decide to go.
Was I going to continue down the path of fear and allow epilepsy to have control of my life? Was I going to allow epilepsy to have control of my thoughts? Was I going to allow epilepsy to stop me from living my life to the fullest? Stop me from being happy and laughing and smiling? In the very beginning and for quite a while there, I chose the wrong path. I traveled the wrong path and it was overwhelming. I am forever grateful to God, and for my husband and family that they poured out their love and support in this journey. Being lifted up by an abundance of love and support, I was strengthened to discover the path in which I needed to be on. A path of healing, faith, and hope.
The moment that I discovered the path of healing, faith and hope, fear was merely an echo. An echo that just became more and more faint. I smiled at the idea of epilepsy attempting to attack me. Epilepsy attacking me only made me stronger. Epilepsy attacking me only made me want to fight even harder. The epilepsy journey was now my story. A story that I was and always will be more than happy to share with the world. It’s how we overcome not succumb to our condition. The path of healing, faith and hope opened my eyes to help me realize something astounding. I realized that this epilepsy diagnosis was not just some accident. It was not a punishment of any kind. I realized that I was given an amazing purpose in this life. In my family and the friends that I knew, I was the one person to be diagnosed with epilepsy. The path was paved before my feet to discover a way so perhaps I could break apart the storm clouds in someone else’s blue sky.
I am thankful that I have the opportunity to help others and make a difference in peoples’ lives. What an honor.
If I could say one thing to those who have just been diagnosed with epilepsy or are just new to the epilepsy journey, I would give this message, “Acknowledge the fear but embrace the faith.”
If you had the opportunity to speak to those who have just been diagnosed with epilepsy or are just new to the epilepsy journey, what would you say? Share in the comments!