My life with epilepsy has been very interesting. I was not diagnosed until I was 20 years old and, I had never heard of the condition. I was lost. I was in college when I had my fall, which is when it all began. I started looking around for people to talk to about it, but my peers had no idea what was going on. They just knew what they heard, and I found out they only knew myths and stigmas associated with epilepsy like I had.
Growing up, the term epilepsy was odd to me. The only explanation I heard of was “fits and spells.” The term neurologist was also new to me. All I had ever heard of was a general practitioner and surgeon. My seizure happened while I was asleep, and it was a tonic-clonic seizure. Then I did not have another one for about four years. Still, I was labeled an “epileptic,” which I did not care for.
People were a little scared for me, and they told me that I should quit school. They told me I would not get married, and I would not find a good job. I could not believe they were saying all of this when I was back at school the same day as my seizure. I did not miss any classes or any work. I still played basketball for the college. I noticed a change in some people’s attitudes, but now my goal was to prove them wrong.
My main problem was trying to find someone willing to talk about epilepsy. There was no one around to discuss this condition and the people who thought they knew about it were incorrect. Being labeled gave me the feeling of being different, so I decided to prove people wrong. I graduated from college on time, I worked a second part-time job, and I increased my semester hours to 18 hours. This seemed crazy, but I felt I needed to do it.
I got married and became a father. I work for a corporation and travel. Even though my seizures became more difficult, I was able to bounce back from them as if they were minor. I later decided to write a book about epilepsy titled The Village. People thought I could not write a book because I had never written a book before. I wanted to write it because people would not listen to me about epilepsy, and I wanted to show them I could still do things on my own and be productive.
Sometimes, it only takes one voice to start a conversation. My book has sold all around the world, and I have shared my story publicly - and talked about epilepsy - with countless people. Now, I am the Regional Director for the Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia in East Hampton Roads.
Don’t let epilepsy stop you from pursuing your dreams. I tell people this: “Victory Over Epilepsy: One Voice, One Village at a Time.”