Today, I’d like to write to you about something that’s very close to my heart: epilepsy. A good online definition I have found for it is as follows:
Epilepsy (or seizures): a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
As someone who has been diagnosed with a type of epilepsy for several years now, I can tell you that seizures are not easy to live with, and they affect much more than those moments of abnormal electrical activity. They affect so much more than those moments, in fact, that it is impossible to joke for a moment without having some offense taken. Let me explain.
Recently, I have heard people like you toss around phrases like, “You looked like you were having a seizure”, or “I was over here, literally having a seizure” – in a joking way, which I can understand: we all joke around. But those people do not understand or relate to me in a way that is vital to who I am and what seizures are: When you joke like that, it’s offensive. The fact that you’re not actually having a seizure, and yet you’re joking about having one, is not just insensitive, but offensive as well. You see, you have the luxury of joking. You don’t have to deal with the reality of the term. So whenever you do make jokes, it stays with people like me. I remember when you say those things. It’s not that I hold a grudge against you, it’s just very hard for me to shake the fact that one of my friends didn’t have the sensitivity to understand a chronic condition – specifically, my chronic condition. It’s like using the r-word with people with disabilities, except you can’t conduct campaigns to eliminate the word ‘seizure’, because that’s exactly what you have. You see what I’m getting at?
So, I’d like to offer an alternative. Whenever you want to joke with your friends (including me!), treat epilepsy as you would any other chronic condition: don’t joke about it. If you did, I probably wouldn’t want to start talking about it then and there. But if you have questions, I would be more than happy to answer them. Comment here (I’ve put a contact form in below), email me (my email is in the ‘about’ section), Facebook message me (if you’re my Facebook friend)… whatever. But if you’re looking to understand more about epilepsy in general, please visit this link. (Go to the ‘Learn’ tab, find anything you’d want to know there!) Or, watch this video – it’s longer than the first aid one below, but it gives a quick run-down of what epilepsy is, the kinds of epilepsy there are, and additional first aid. Also: in learning about epilepsy, I have found that they are a lot more common than people think. I love my roommates, but they had no idea what to do when I was having a seizure – and that ended up costing me several hundred dollars in a trip to the ER. Therefore, try to be prepared in case you should ever encounter someone having a seizure. You really never know. Because you won’t, please don’t joke like you do.
Thank you for your time. I really do appreciate it.