Why People Are Surprised When I Tell Them I Have Epilepsy
For most of my adult life, I’ve kept epilepsy in my closet like an ugly coat. I didn’t want to cloak myself, so to speak, in what I used to see as a shameful disorder.
Of course, it’s far from that, though some others may react in shameful ways when they hear about it. I decided to step into the open about my condition a little over two years ago, and for the most part, the people I’ve told haven’t let me down.
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Nonetheless, I have to say that to a one, there seems to be an element of surprise manifested in their seemingly taking a moment to reorient themselves to the truth. I’ve lived a fruitful life, with a wonderful marriage, a child (who doesn’t have epilepsy), and I’m successful professionally. I’m generally confident. What I sometimes feel when my meds are a little off, they never see. In their view of the world, I’ve seemed “normal.”
The question, then, is how to make us all feel comfortable telling others. It’s kind of a chicken-and-egg situation, unfortunately, but it’s our responsibility to take the first step if we want others to accept us as we are. We have everything to gain from being brave, choosing the right moment to tell others, and making sure we’ve firmly established a positive relationship with that person before we do.
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