As an eleven-year old girl, the biggest
worries were getting homework done so I could play and having enough time to
play. In 1977 those worries would change, I was diagnosed with epilepsy.
Does anyone realize what the unknown
does to an eleven year old? When doctors, nurses, mom and dad, cannot put
anything tangible with word epilepsy? That the “big” people could give no real
explanation about why I had a short-circuit in my brain.
In that year, explanations were not
given for children’s’ differences, bullying was an everyday norm because “kids
will be kids” and we had to learn to toughen up. It was bad enough we were all
going through puberty and some of us didn’t get our parts fast enough or our
fuzzies fast enough. Then put a child’s disability, family’s income, religion,
whether they played the cool sport or cool band instrument on top of it?
For a child, friends mean everything, but with each
seizure a friend was lost. For those that think children are resilient or that
children are not tiny bigots, sorry you are wrong. By the time I was thru my
first quarter of sixth grade I had lost every friend I had. I was called
crappie floppy, retard, jerkin’, and freak-a-zoid. This name calling and banishment
was with me through 6th, 7th, and 8th
grades. Moving up to high school was a
blessing. Two middle schools, mine and another came together at the high school
level. New faces that I could make friends with.
My friends in high school were all
from the other middle school. These kids were not predisposed to the
“freak-a-zoid”. In fact, many of them never found out I had seizures. That
became my biggest worry, who would be the first to find out I had a brain
gremlin. I was not worried about the latest fashions, newest rock groups,
gossip, or staying out late. Keeping my driver’s license and my friends was all
that was important at that time.
My fears would later change to
despair. My driver’s license and my attempt at normalcy were suspended. I had
several seizures and my doctor felt it necessary to take away my driver’s
license. Do you realize you are more likely to be killed or injured by a drunk
driver than an epileptic? Also, it is easier for a DUI driver to get behind the
wheel than an epileptic, epileptics have a conscience.
My freedom taken away, my epilepsy
worsening, I tried to commit suicide. What had happened to me? This invisible
time bomb inside me had gotten to me. It had no face and no outward
description. It disappears as fast as it comes. Without warning it rears its
ugly head as I fall into strangled blackness. When I awake to panicked faces
and yelling voices, a thick, gray fog blankets my brain. My body feels like
lead and I just want to sleep.
Every parent tells their child not to
be afraid of the monsters in the dark. I would have given anything for that
simple fear. Instead, I was in a continual wrestling match with the gargoyle in
I made it through my suicide attempt
with the love and support of my family and friends. Most said my problems
weren’t big enough. Maybe they weren’t but then….
The medications used to control
seizures can be just as scary to a child. I think that doctors take only the
“common” side effects into consideration when they should realize that all side
effects are common and the reactions are not in your head.
One of the first anticonvulsants
drugs I was on turned me from a happy-go-lucky preteen into a temper tantrum
throwing, back talking, and almost evil little girl. My mother cried her heart
breaking as she told the doctor of the darkness in my eyes.
There are also the physical effects
they tell you about. A teen shouldn’t have to worry about liver or kidney
damage because of the medication. A teen should also not have to worry about
hair loss, severe weight gain, or facial hair. Come on, adolescence is tough
All I wanted to be concerned with
was dating, dances and dresses like any other girl. Instead of dreams of
parties and football games, I had nightmares of gremlins and gargoyles dancing
on my brain. But little did I know my brain gremlin was but a little pest
compared to the real monster I was about to conquer.
bullying, invisible disability, or domestic violence…… conquering one or all can be traumatic