Navigating friendships & epilepsy can be difficult, but once you find the right friends it doesn't feel scary anymore.
RELATIONSHIPS & EPILEPSY
Real talk- epilepsy is a scary name. For those of us who are diagnosed with it, we may not blink an eye at the thought of a seizure. However, some people fear the idea of a seizure. Thanks to the media, people are led to believe that seizures are the stereotypical tonic-clonic with foaming at the mouth and bitten-off tongue. The general population is unaware of the fact that there are a ton of different types of seizures.
I have been through my fair share of friends. As my mother has told me time and time again, there are friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for a lifetime. I can personally tell you that this is true. Now, with this in mind, I am going to remind you that epilepsy is a scary name. Expecting high schoolers (or people of any age) not to fear seizures is a lot to ask for. What do most people do when they are afraid of something? They run. As humans, we find it easier to run from difficult or scary situations rather than face them head-on.
What I want you to remember, though, is you have epilepsy. You are not epilepsy. Good friends will realize this. Good friends will take the time to educate themselves on your specific seizures, triggers, and game plan when you have one. They will offer to drive you (#passengerprincess) and accommodate you overall. My list of friends for a season is longer than I would like to say. However, this list of friends has taught me very valuable lessons. It is not worth risking your health and well-being while wasting time with "friends" who do not care. You only need to surround yourself with adequate people. I can confidently say I can count all of my friends on one hand, and I love it that way. They take care of me and understand when I have to cancel at the last minute, seize in the passenger seat of their truck while going home from dinner, and puke everywhere (oops…), and they don't care when I don't partake in some of their activities.
My best friend doesn't care when I agree to hang out at her house to fall asleep on the couch while watching a movie. Another one keeps snacks in his car, so my blood sugar does not drop too low and trigger a seizure. It has taken me tons of time to find friends like this. They are extremely rare, and I am unbelievably blessed to have them.
Just because you have epilepsy does not mean you cannot have a social life. Mine is no different than the average teenager's. I do not partake in substances and avoid my triggers as much as possible. I can attend parties, go on trips, and overall lead a fairly normal life thanks to the relationship I have with my parents. I have built a trusting relationship with them, so I am comfortable calling them to help me when I feel a seizure coming on- no matter the circumstance. I trust them, and they trust me. I have learned to notice my seizures and speak up when something isn't right.
The fantastic thing about the epilepsy community is the friends you can make within it. The girls who are a part of Milo and Me have become such amazing friends. They understand my daily struggles and are always here to help. Whether it is to provide some comedic relief or walk me through what I feel is a crisis, the girls are always there for me. They have become the first people I reach out to in a time of need because I know I can count on them without fear of judgment. The girls are genuinely amazing people and full of love. It is safe to say that I can consider those girls my close friends despite the physical distance between all of us.
The hardest part is finding a real friend. Trust me. I know how lonely it can get. Through finding real friends, you will learn some super valuable lessons. At the end of the day, I am always here for you. I am just one DM away (ali_appleby_)
Ali and Brady