A young person with epilepsy who is currently enrolled in Epilepsy Ireland’s ‘Training For Success’ course in IT Sligo has encouraged others living with epilepsy to consider joining the course for the 2020/21 year.
Training For Success is a one year full-time course targeted at people with epilepsy whose educational or social development may have been impacted as a result of their condition and aims to equip them with the vital skills required to either enter the workforce or pursue further education.
Debra Kobe - who was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of eight and experiences a number of different type of seizures - admitted that she found secondary school extremely challenging as a result of her condition commenting, “My epilepsy was particularly difficult at school due to having a lot of seizures and it undoubtedly disrupted my school life and my mental health. I can experience many different types of seizures – some will present as the stereotypical view of epilepsy (tonic-clonic seizures) where I fall to the ground and shake uncontrollably while in others, I can present as being completely zoned out or I could start screaming or rambling with no knowledge of what I am doing (absence seizures).
My epilepsy was very tough at school as it wasn’t really under control and my classmates and teachers didn’t really understand the condition. This unfortunately led to teasing which led to a lot of anxiety about when and where I was going to have my next seizure – which inevitably led to more seizures happening as stress & anxiety are a seizure trigger for me, like many others with epilepsy. All of this led to me missing a lot of time from school which meant that when I finished school, I really didn’t know what way was forward. Thankfully, my local Epilepsy Ireland Community Resource Officer made me aware of Training For Success.”
Speaking about her experience on the course over the past year, Debra – who is due to complete her studies with TFS in August and intends to pursue a Psychology Degree to further her studies- said that she credits the course for helping her manage her condition and for helping her focus on moving forward:
“I honestly can’t recommend TFS enough to any young person with epilepsy who might be feeling they are at a crossroads. Epilepsy as a condition does not have to define you and TFS is vehicle to free yourself of the shackles that epilepsy can be to many who are living with it. As I look over the past year, I have learned so much about the condition by being with others who are also living with epilepsy in an environment that allows us to learn the skills we may have missed out on through normal school life as a result of our conditions.
My confidence has grown immensely over the last year. I now own my condition rather than it owning me and as a result, I have been inspired to educate the public further about epilepsy. In 2019, I represented Ireland at an International Bureau of Epilepsy event for young people with epilepsy which encouraged us to speak about our condition in order to help others learn; while at the beginning of the year, I was delighted to be one of Epilepsy Ireland’s ‘Myth-Busters’ for their high-profile International Epilepsy Day Campaign.
Without TFS, I do not believe that any of this would’ve been possible nor do I believe that I would be looking forward and making plans for the future in terms of education and employment. I would urge others who are struggling to overcome some of the challenges that epilepsy can bring to please consider joining TFS for 2020/21 year. It was the best decision I made and I believe you might look back on it as being one of the best decisions you made as well.”