The above pictures are the tablets I have to take on a daily basis. The first one are the ones that I take in the morning and the second at night. They are a part of my daily routine but not a day goes by when I truly wish that I did not have to take them. It is a battle I fight every day. It is not easy. I know that these medicines are what keeps me stable. I also know that 18 hours is the maximum I can go before I feel the need of medication again. I question the difference between a drug addict and myself.
I have had seizures that have given me third-degree burns. Luckily it was my leg that got burnt. If I slumped further then my face would have been disfigured. I had a seizure and blacked out when I was in Oxford Circus tube station. If it had to happen a minute or two earlier then there would have been a 90% chance that I would have fallen on the tracks. Did I just get lucky breaks or was God protecting me? I don’t think anyone who meets me would be aware of the mental battle that fights through every day. I went into an organisation to become a member. I checked the box that asked me if I had any disability. The lady who was checking my details gently questioned me on it. God bless her sensitive heart. When people talk about mental health I am far from the image that they would picture in their head. I look perfectly normal, behave normally and I am nearly always smiling.
Today is the start of Mental Health Awareness Week. The main problem with Mental Health is the lack of tangible proof. It’s not like putting a thermometer in your mouth so that you can judge if you have a fever or not. How can I convince people that I have had a small jerk when I cannot be sure myself. If you have the flu or even a migraine you can call your place of work by the appointed time. With Epilepsy that is hard to do. How can you describe the buzzing sensation that occurs in part of your head or the discomfort caused by flash photography and strobe lightings. Sometimes I feel that the only way they can understand what I and my family goes through is for them or their children to have epilepsy. I do not feel guilty about this. The number of people who are diagnosed with Epilepsy is growing. The link between Epilepsy, Stress, Depression and sleeplessness is a vicious circle. One can cause another and all of them can influence seizures. Still, people like me live on to fight another day. We live with the hope that the day will come when we stop wondering whether we will have a jerk while crossing a road or talking to people or being alone when you have a complete seizure. We hope that there will be a medicine that agrees with you which will not have any adverse effects. We hope that people will treat us properly and not act stupefied or illiterate when you tell them you have epilepsy. We hope that people will be more sensitive to our needs and not assume that we do not have anything just because they cannot see it. It is bad enough that people do not offer their seats in the tube for elderly people, pregnant women and those who physically handicapped. I am extremely sceptical whether wearing a badge requesting a seat will make a difference.
My mind needs to be in a constant flux of thought. This is one reason why I like writing. It gives me a mode to think. I also hope that what I write will make others think. Being Epileptic and having other mental health conditions that come about will be part and parcel of your life. We have two choices. Either we can be quiet and embarrassed about it or we can inform people to ensure that they know what to do. I do not want anyone’s pity. I do want the sensitivity and understanding of other people. This to me is the most difficult thing to achieve.