Speakers Corner

My Life Changed

31 January 2015
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By Anne Conway

When I was 18 my life changed. I was just about to start college, move out of home and then I had my first seizure.

The day after my debs, I collapsed at work and had a full on seizure, I was unaware of what had happened, I knew my head was throbbing and I knew I wanted to sleep but after that I knew very little. Epilepsy does that. It takes your memory for a little bit, what day it is, what year it is, where you live, who the president is, who your family are. The only thing I knew was I needed sleep.

My second seizure happened in college, outside a doctor's surgery. I was diagnosed just after this seizure. My doctor told me "You have epilepsy, we will put you on medication. You will have to deal with the stigma."

I only sort of knew what epilepsy was. I had heard of it but didn't really know what it was and neither did my family. Instead of 'stigma' we started educating ourselves. Questions ensued... a whole lot of questions, all of which were answered by Epilepsy Ireland and by the internet.

I wasn't allowed to be a victim, that doesn't work in our house. Instead I was encouraged to tell people, to answer their questions and educate them. My employer, my friends, my lecturers all knew I had epilepsy and knew what to do if I had a seizure. People wanted to know how they could help. Strangely most people are like that!

If I have a seizure, make sure I cannot hurt myself. Put something soft under my head and do not put anything in my mouth. Once my seizure passes, put me in the recovery position and please talk to me, remind me who I am, who you are and that I am ok. If my seizure lasts for five minutes or more call an ambulance. In fact, if at any stage you think you can't handle what's happening, call an ambulance.

I had three seizures, and now in 2015 I am 10 years seizure free. My epilepsy has made me stronger, braver and the only thing I have wiped from my memory and my mind is stigma.

#stampoutstigma #epilepsyday

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