My high school experience
SEIZURE SAFE SCHOOLS
Being in high school with epilepsy has been unexpectedly challenging. I never imagined I would experience the problems I was presented with.
When I was little, I was in the same school my entire life. I was there for Pre-k to 8th grade. I was diagnosed with epilepsy in 3rd grade, and my school was so supportive that it was hard to notice that I wasn’t like the other kids in my class. Since I felt so comfortable and “normal” at my school, I wasn’t nervous about transitioning to high school. I applied to the private school that most kids at my school got into with all honors classes.
I don’t like to brag, but most people tell me that I’m a pretty smart girl. My first year was in 2021, the COVID era. The first few months of my freshman year were virtual. It was hard to adjust to, but I got through it. Unfortunately, being virtual was not the only problem I faced this year. The school I attended was MASSIVE. I didn’t notice how much I relied on teachers to care for me. A few days after school started, I ran into my first problem. One of my teachers refused to follow my accommodations plan. She believed I would not need accommodations if I were smart enough to be in her class. This is so far from true, and this was the first time I learned that people believed that just because I was epileptic, I was dumb. Her ignorance of my accommodations plan made it hard for me to succeed despite being a very good student. I was basically kicked out of the class and had to be moved down to a lower-level class since she was the only honors, English teacher. Being in such a low-level class was challenging because I had always been a high-honors student, and writing is one of my strongest areas. The school told me they wouldn’t put me in honors/ AP classes throughout my high school career. Sadly, this was not the only issue I faced.
When my school finally Became in-person, I experienced more problems than I thought I would. The school was physically huge, and I had come from a small private school. I would get lost, nobody would even notice, and nobody bothered to help me when I asked. I didn’t feel safe. I felt that if something happened to me, nobody would care. This thought was correct.
One day, I had an absence seizure at school. When I felt it coming, I texted my mom, and soon after, my apple watch sent my mom an alarm saying something was wrong. My mom tried to call the school numerous times, and nobody cared. Finally, after like 15 minutes, my mom got through to the school. She explained the situation, and as I expected, nobody cared. After both my parents insisted somebody go check on me, they sent somebody to my classroom and told my parents that I was “ok.” PS: I was not ok. I felt terrible and was basically falling out of my chair. One of my classmates even told my teacher (who didn’t care). My mom decided to take me home because there was no way I would be able to continue the day like this. I ended up sleeping for 7 hours after that. At this point, my parents started to realize that I couldn’t stay at this school.
By now, I felt destroyed. Nothing was going right for me. I began to understand that not everything in my life would be easy. I would do anything to be able to miss school. Eventually, the school told me I should go virtual because they “didn’t have the resources” to look out for me. Now, my parents were touring other schools. I went to tour a school that I was initially interested in but forgot about because none of my friends were going there. This high school was a small private school, just like my middle school. I fell in love with the school again. It felt like a family, and I felt like I would be safe here.
I finished my first semester of freshman year at the other school and transferred to the smaller school. I immediately felt better despite the anxiety and sadness the other school gave me. I started to get involved, and I loved it. I became a cheerleader, which was something I never thought I’d be able to do. When I’d have seizures at school, I had friends looking out for me, and a principal I knew she cared so much about me and my well-being. I slowly realized that I could be smart even though I have epilepsy. I grew to be a different person. Instead of the shy introvert that I was at the big school, I rose to be a happy, extrovert class vice president and varsity cheerleader. I could never have imagined this massive change in my personality and outlook. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have a school that was so supportive of my dreams and that doesn’t hold me back.
I’m so thankful for my parents, who allowed and encouraged me to switch.If you have ever felt this way, like you aren’t good enough and nobody cares about you, remember that somebody does. Everybody has somewhere they are meant to be, and somebody loves them.
Some of us have a longer path to get there, but we are meant to take that path for a reason. If I didn’t go through what I went to, I wouldn’t be such a strong epilepsy advocate. I never want anybody to go through what I went through, and I will do anything I can to prevent that for future generations. See you next time,