I am drowning in the stigma of having epilepsy. I feel like I have this life that I can’t talk about, and the weight of this secret is pulling me deeper into an ocean of fear, confusion, and embarrassment. All I want to do is come up for a breath of air, and release the tension that sinks me.
You shouldn’t be ashamed to have a disability. There is nothing wrong with it. I tell myself, and others this constantly. I would never judge someone for any reason, and yet I find myself too afraid to let this secret be free.
It feels like a sting each time I notice I’m being judged by my friends and family, my co-workers and acquaintances. No one turns their back, or calls you out on your disability directly. But you realize that they change once they find out you have epilepsy. They change how they treat you, even if they don’t realize they are doing it. They are more cautious around you, and don’t act or speak as freely. They don’t invite you out to everything, in case you might be triggered. They don’t think you can handle simple tasks on your own. They begin doing things for you that you can handle with no problem, because they don’t want you to over-do it. They don’t want you to be “too stressed”.
I want to be an advocate for epilepsy, bring awareness to others like me. ::Steps up on soapbox.:: “Yes we have epilepsy! Yes we may suffer! And YES we are still capable to accomplish, to grow, to take risks. We can do everything you can. It may take us longer, it may be harder, it may have to be done differently than you, but we are still able!”
This is where reality hits me, like the jolt of vertigo in the middle of the night. This is where I feel the splash as I fall back into the deep end, realizing that I have exposed my darkest secret, and now everyone will see my weakness. When you are treated like you are made of glass, like you could fall and break, you begin to become cautious yourself. You begin to doubt what you are able to handle, what you are possible to achieve. You lose confidence and stop taking risks. You give up on dreams.
Maybe one day I’ll be brave, I won’t be ashamed to be different. One day, I’ll break the stigma. I’ll walk around with purple hair as a symbol of awareness. I’ll advocate for fair treatment. I’m not there yet, but perhaps this blog is the first step.