Speakers Corner

There is no need to hide thanks to the internet

31 January 2015
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'There is no need to hide thanks to the internet' image

By Audrey Muddiman, Co Meath

When I was first diagnosed with epilepsy at age 11, Ireland was a very different place. People didn't admit to have epilepsy in public, "epileptic" was a dirty word. My parents sheltered me from any stigma that might be attached by simply not telling people that I had epilepsy. The word was never mentioned. I simply had "convulsions" that sometimes interrupted my life.

As I got older the condition worsened and we were forced to face the fact that I had "epilepsy". I've never accepted that I am "disabled" in the traditional sense of the word. I do recognise that I have a disabling condition that thankfully for the last 15 years has been controlled by first medication and then surgery, but I no longer feel that I have to hide the fact that I have epilepsy. There are so many conditions out there that are equally disabling or worse.

If the internet has done anything, it has made people less easy to shock. In relation to epilepsy that's a good thing. Seeing someone have a seizure is no longer such a big deal when you can see it time and time again on YouTube, and more importantly how to deal with it.

Information and help is now readily available and most importantly 70% of people with epilepsy are able to live seizure free lives once the correct medication or treatment is found for them.

Why then should we hide the fact that we have a treatable medical condition as we get on with our lives? People with asthma and life threatening allergies feel no need to hide their conditions. Why should people with epilepsy? Embrace your epilepsy I say, it may be part of you but it is not all of you, nor should it define you.

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