A friend of mine recently told me about a flaw that I have, which is that I cut people off too easily. She said that if she were like me, she wouldn’t have anyone left. I strongly disagreed with her. But, of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and everyone’s entitled to have their own perception of me. At the same time, though, her statement really got to me, and it got me thinking about a lot of things, especially considering everything I’d been through over the years. Even though I disagreed with my friend’s perception of me, who may I add, has known me for over a decade, there is some truth to it.
I was involved in a car accident that could’ve easily been fatal. It was a warm August night/morning (5 AM to be exact). My husband and I were driving a friend of a friend home after a party. Everyone who was involved in the car accident survived, including my husband, but I was the one who experienced the most severe physical outcomes. Aside from the cuts and bruises, as well as the pain that came in the aftermath of that fateful accident, brain damage came into play as well, but only made an appearance about a year later when I was officially diagnosed with epilepsy. It was only then that I realized just how serious the car accident was.
Being diagnosed with epilepsy wasn’t enough to understand just how f*cked my life situation would turn out to be. It was just a diagnosis after all, right? I only had that one seizure one time, and that’s it. Nothing would happen again. That was my thought process for a year and a half after that one grand-mal seizure. That year and a half of a seizure free life was great. I continued living my life as normal. I was your regular 20-something year old woman. I was partying, going to clubs, attending concerts, drinking, experiencing sleepless nights; all in all, I wasn’t leading a healthy lifestyle whatsoever.
When I started having seizures again and my condition worsened, I made a decision that I needed to get my life back on track. I didn’t know how I was going to do it yet, but I knew I needed to do it. Just the fact that I was medication wasn’t enough anymore. To me, that was a step in the right direction. The first step for me was making the decision to get better. The second step was learning how to get my health back on track. The second step started by learning what my seizure triggers were. I realized that all my triggers were those things that I was doing to try to prove to myself that I was living a normal life and that I wasn’t ill – drinking alcohol, smoking hookah, not having a consistent sleep schedule, as well as going to places where there were flashing lights and loud music.
I was leading an unhealthy lifestyle, and I was desperate to change it. I needed to change it if I wanted to keep on living. Doing what I had to do proved to be extremely difficult, and I had no idea why for so long. I made all the lifestyle changes that were necessary of me to do, but the seizures didn’t stop. In fact, they worsened. So I went back to my old ways. I started feeling left out from all my friends’ lives, and I wanted to feel ‘normal’ again. My need to be ‘normal’, though, left me paralyzed. Not in a literal sense, but in an emotional, as well as a mental one. I started feeling like I completely failed my life. But it also made me realize that there was no life without health.
After years and years of struggles, I decided that it was time for me to, again, bring myself to life. Again, I stopped drinking, partying, smoking, and doing everything and anything else that I knew would cause me seizures. Still, despite me doing everything that needed to be done in order to avoid having any seizures, I still continued having them; and with time, the seizures got worse. That was when I started to realize that maybe it wasn’t the ‘WHAT’ when it came to my seizure triggers, but rather as to ‘WHO’. As my chronic illness and overall mental state worsened, I really started paying close attention to my social circle.
As I developed this great epiphany, I felt as though I was finally on the road to recovery. I felt that all my demons were about to die, and that made me feel larger than life. The people I surrounded myself with were a big part of why my health was worsening. They were giving me negative energy, and that negative energy was triggering my seizures. This realization made so much sense to me. I wasn’t living for myself anymore, but rather for other people’s expectations. Whatever it was my friends wanted me to do, i did it. They wanted me to party, I partied. They wanted me to drink, I drank. They wanted me to stay up late, I stayed up late. If they laughed at my expense, I laughed with them. I was their puppet and they were all my masters.
That was my life up until I had a meltdown. That meltdown was the best thing that could ever happen to me. It gave me a whole new outlook on what was actually happening to me and what I needed to do next. I needed to have a fresh start in my life. I needed to get rid of all of what AND who triggered my health. I made a conscious decision that whoever was a part of my life during my worst few years of epilepsy struggles wouldn’t have any part whatsoever in my present and future. It didn’t matter to me if they were good people, if they were genuinely trying t help me, if they had good intentions, if they were good friends to me, and no matter how supportive they were during that time of my life. Those who saw me at my worst would not be part of my life anymore; period. And that was that.
I was excited for my future. I was excited to see where it would take me. As time progressed, I realized I made the right decision, though it was a difficult one for sure. The more time passed, the healthier and stronger I became – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Even though it was difficult to cut off most of my friends out of my life, at the end of the day, I had to do what I had to do. I had to do what was best FOR ME, and me only. I didn’t care what kind of person I was perceived as. I didn’t care who laughed at my expense. Nor did I care what people thought I should’ve or shouldn’t have done. I just had to do what was right for me and my health. Being diagnosed with something as serious as epilepsy, or any other chronic illness for that matter, and then being on the road to recovery, gives you a whole newfound relationship with your body and mind. Whatever and whoever isn’t good for your well-being, your body and mind will surely communicate that with you.
Even though I live with a chronic illness, I am the healthiest I have ever been in my life. And I wouldn’t say I am healthy even though I have epilepsy, but rather BECAUSE I have epilepsy; and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Instead of constantly looking at my past that brought the worst in me, as well as the people who were a part of it, I look ahead to the present and the future.