“Epileptic” by Definition?

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Writing about my journey with Epilepsy gives me the privilege of sharing my small story and receiving the encouragement of others- both friends and strangers- all with such big hearts. I received a message from a woman with whom I went to high school and it turns out she has Epilepsy as well. I never knew; she never had a seizure when I was around, and I didn’t start having my seizures ‘til I was in college, so there was never a platform for a connection until now. Her message said this:

“I like what a neurologist told me one time in his office. There were a lot of kids and I said ‘all of these kids are epileptics?’ He said ‘They’re not epileptics. They’re kids with epilepsy. We don’t define them by it.’ I notice a lot of referencing to you being an ‘epileptic.’ You aren’t. You are Megan… with epilepsy. It does not define you!”

Her words were encouraging and extremely thoughtful, and they made me pause. I do use the title of “Epileptic” when referring to myself in my writings, quite often, and does that bother me?… I don’t think it does. A lot of people are fearful of being pigeon-holed into a category that may not be appealing or flattering or normal- all of which Epilepsy definitely is not. I mean, I’ve never scored a date or a job by boasting about my ability to foam at the mouth or look like I’m the main attraction at an exorcism, I get it. :) And I can see if you’re a child or teen; the world can be a cruel place once you’ve been given certain titles, and my heart aches for those who suffer unfairly for it. As for me though, I guess I view it differently…

I’ll refer to the line- “We don’t define them by it.” I think when interacting with kids, that’s a very smart comment by the neurologist, and it provides a positive outlook. As an adult, for me, I know who I am as a person, and that means I know I am not one dimensional. I am an outgoing, here’s-where-I-stand woman, a friend who loves to laugh, a loving wife, a devoted Mom, and I happen to have a pretty screwed up neurological condition. Those are all facets of me. They each do not define me individually, but together they shape who I am, who I’m still becoming and what I do with my life. In fact, would I have ever started writing about my own life if I didn’t have Epilepsy? Would I have ever interacted with others who suffer from Epilepsy if I didn’t have my FB page or blog? Would I even be here talking to you now? :) No, I wouldn’t. And that means I’d be missing out on these brief “chats” we have when you take a moment to read my posts. (Thank you.)

So I guess I don’t mind the title of “Epileptic” for it’s actually enriched my life at this stage in who I am… it’s made me weak, but it’s also made me strong. It’s shaken my faith in what lies ahead for me, but it’s also guided me on a new path. It’s stolen minutes from my life, but by default, created memorable moments with others. My Epilepsy is simply a facet of who I am and how I live my life.

Long story short, I’m an “Epileptic” and although it doesn’t define all of me, it’s taking me places I’ve never been before… if I can spread awareness, I’ll gladly wear that title. :)

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