People fascinate me. We are all so intricate with our different personalities, characteristics, beliefs, appearances, likes, dislikes, culture, traditions the list goes on and on. We are products of our parents and their beliefs alongside their choice of how to bring, what were, little people up. Quite honestly, parenting to me seems like it’s a ‘flying by the seat of your pants’ job! No-one is at liberty to judge another unless they’ve walked a mile in that person’s shoes; however, what I have learned is that no child/adult is devoid of damage.
Ironically enough, this is something I never believed as a child. I remember looking at other families and thinking, ‘Aren’t I lucky I have it so much better than them, my life is perfect’ and that is genuinely what I thought. But lo and behold when the teenage years kicked in the clarity increased and with each year I came up against test after test and challenge after challenge. I evaluated my life, looked back and realized it was very far from perfect. The seeds which had been sown many years before in all manner of situations were slowly being reaped leaving me with some stunted, withering and half grown plants. That’s when the mammoth amount of work on ‘me’ began – an ongoing process until the day I am no longer breathing. As an aside, I mean absolutely no disrespect towards my parents as I write this, I consider myself blessed with my family who did the very best in creating what I like to think is a well-rounded, compassionate, considerate person; however, I’m sure they would both agree with my statement in accordance with the damage theory.
Not so long ago I wrote about the idea of glass half full or is it half empty and I think this is an extension of that idea. What I find really intriguing is people’s responses to situations they find themselves in. It seems very much the ‘cause and effect’ concept coming into play. Do different people respond in different ways because of upbringing or personality for example? How is it that some people who suffer horrific events in their childhoods are able to use them as a positive to learn and change, whereas others turn to alcohol, drugs and other means and life takes a nosedive? How is it that some people who have a life long illness turn it in to a positive rather than a negative?
This is the question I am desperately trying to fathom out. As I look at health forums, they are a wonderful opportunity to ask questions and to feel safe in an environment where people can relate to each other’s experiences, but I repeatedly see answers filled with blame and anger laid at everyone else’s door but their own which I find terribly frustrating. The reason I feel confident to vocalize this is because I’ve lived it. From the age of three I’ve lived the life of grand mal seizures most nights and absence seizures every day for the last twenty two years. I’ve lived through the headaches and the effects which knock you out for a day, I know what it’s like not to be able to do the same things as other people because of the condition, I know how trying to live every day like everyone else who doesn’t have seizures is an exhausting and energy depriving mission and ultimately, I know and accept that there is a difference between me and other people. It doesn’t mean that I can’t achieve the same things but there is a difference because one of us has epilepsy and the other one doesn’t. This isn’t me feeling sorry for myself or playing the victim, it’s about facing reality and accepting what life is. It’s being grateful for what I can do rather than all the things I can’t do and being proud of all the things I have achieved no matter how simple they are because in my world, it may be a bigger deal to attain that goal. It’s about using your experiences positive or negative to help others, it’s about making your life the best that it can possibly be, however complex. I may have mentioned this before (bad memory is another delight of AED’s/epilepsy!), but before going to sleep think of three things you are grateful for from that day. Some days it will be easy but others you can be grappling at straws using the basics; food, a roof over your head etc.
Controversial I know but I now wonder how much of the problem we are if we aren’t taking responsibility for our epilepsy and using it as a positive. If we are expelling blame and negativity onto people for their ignorance then how can we possibly expect the population to understand epilepsy if we’re not prepared to educate them?