As in my disclaimer, I would like to clarify two things. First, I am not a medical professional. Second, I am not a physical fitness professional. I am athletic and I have epilepsy. I engage in physical activity every day. I am epileptic every day, even if I don’t have seizures.
Running is my primary physical activity. I have run half-marathons and am currently training for a marathon later this year. That means that currently I clock between 30 and 40 kilometres a week, which will steadily increase, in addition to interval running and cross training. I cross train two days a week, which alternates weekly based on what I feel like doing. It could be yoga, swimming, cycling, dancing, kickboxing, roller skating, hiking, or whatever I learn about that I feel like trying. I have been athletic for the last five years but only began racing in the last couple of years.
I was diagnosed with epilepsy almost 20 years ago, when I was a young teenager. It has not been an easy journey. I have experienced the same insecurities, fears, disappointments and emotional struggles that many people with this condition have. I have experienced physical trauma as a result of seizures in a large range of severity. I’ve had black eyes, bruises, shredded knees, needed stitches and knocked out teeth. I have worried and scared my friends, family, teachers, professors, co-workers and strangers when they have witnessed a seizure. It is something that is with me every single day.
The intention of this blog is to share my experiences with epilepsy and primarily athleticism, but also life in general. I want to provide a positive source of information through my experiences. I understand that a physical condition like epilepsy can pose risks and escalate concerns when it comes to athletics. I am not trying to provide medical or training advice (always discuss with a doctor and/or neurologist before engaging in any new activities), but I think it’s important for people to understand that epilepsy does not have to cause a cessation of activity (or to prevent activity from starting).
A lack of attention to physical wellness may escalate the symptoms associated with medical conditions or the side effects of medications. Depression, anxiety, weight fluctuations, low energy, sleeping disorders, these can all be side effects. Physical wellness goes hand-in-hand with emotional wellness and physical wellness may contribute to offsetting negative side effects. In my experience, running has provided me with balance, stability, expression, relief and strength. For me, running has countered many of the side effects and has helped stabilize the frequency and intensity of my seizures. The other activities have introduced me to new people, new communities and new ways of thinking. Wellness has given me a new appreciation of my body. Rather than thinking about what my body cannot do, I anticipate being able to work with my body and learn and expand on what it can do.
Anything can be an excuse to avoid physical activity, epilepsy included. My intention with this blog is to show that epilepsy does not have to be the cause of avoiding living a healthy, active lifestyle. My intention is to show the benefits I have experienced, the challenges I have faced, and why athleticism has made me stronger in the face of adversity. When I lace up my sneakers and go out my front door, I shake the ground with every step.