Sorry for the delay in getting another blog post up! Part of the reason I haven’t posted has been due to having another bout of seizure of activity and that, in part, prompted me on what subject to write about next.
It’s hard when you have any sort of hidden illness to remain upbeat all the time. Not only do you have the condition itself to face, the stigma from others but also feelings of anxiety and depression that come with that.
The way that both affect me is probably quite weird to understand but actually makes perfect sense to me. When I have a seizure, I lose consciousness. I convulse, I lash out, I spit and I soil myself. I often wake up battered, bruised and feeling humiliated. The majority of the time, I have a warning that I’m about to have a seizure but I can never really predict why or when they will happen. So that makes me anxious.
The longest I’ve gone without a seizure has been nearly three months. And I think I got complacent with it. I was then horrified the next time I did lapse and this upset me deeply. It made me think, once again, that I will never see an end to this. Hence, feelings of depression.
It can be really hard some days to stay positive, some days are a lot harder than others, and it’s really flippant to just say “Cheer yourself up.”
I was very fortunate in gaining a position at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, a wildlife preserve that offers homes to lions, tigers, leopards, rhinoceros and many, many more animals. Being able to walk round and appreciate some of these incredible creatures everyday helps put things in perspective for me.
Exercise also helps immensely. Going to gym, even just going on a long walk, helps release endorphins which naturally help the body feel better.
Most importantly of all though, is maintaining a strong and informed social network (and I don’t mean regular Facebook updates…). My family is key to me. My wife is my absolute rock and stayed with me despite of myself. My children are all experts in how to deal with a seizure – they’re true heroes and are rarely fazed by how their dad looks following an incident. My friendship group is small but amazing. No-one I associate with judges me anymore, they all support me when I’m not at my best and never, ever pity me. They can be harsh at times but they’re always honest.
It might sound chintzy to simply say STAY POSITIVE when you feel limited by a condition such as epilepsy but it really is the most important thing you can. Find something you love and that you can be proud – for me, it’s my artwork – but it really could be anything. And surround yourself with people who love you for who you are, not those who see the condition first.
I hope my posts help a little and feel free to get in touch.