Last year I did an interview with a journalist from Canadian Running Magazine. A couple months ago I did the photo shoot with them (leading to the post “Fun and Getting Back Up”). This edition of the magazine, the article was posted (September & October 2018, Volume 11, Issue 6). The article is called “Running with Epilepsy” and it is a wonderful piece about the experience of trying to be an athlete with a medical condition. I am blown away by the journalist (Madeleine Cummings) who did the most fantastic job of understanding and communicating what I am trying to express. She understood my history, she understood my present, and she understood the goals I have with running. The article also acknowledges the goals I have for promoting epilepsy awareness.
For years, I was uncomfortable with my condition. When I was much younger, a better word would be “embarrassed”. I was different, and I hated it. I taught myself that if I was going to do anything, I was going to have to do it myself and while concealing my condition. I didn’t want to be different like that.
Then, I couldn’t continue the way I was, hiding it and pretending that I wasn’t different. I was running, and I fell during races. I made up lies (“I tripped on the trail”) to hide it. I have vertigo and clumsiness to begin with and I was having to cover up when I was stumbling as a result of seizures as well. University and work took mental focus, but running needed both mental and physical. I could manage university, I could manage work, but running was the place that I couldn’t pretend. Yet, I tried to keep it to myself.
I have come a long way from that attitude and I am proud of that.
A few years ago I started talking about it. Last year (was it only last year!?!), I started this blog. To me, my medical condition was something that had to be acknowledged now and not just when I had seizures. Every person with a seizure condition (or any variety of conditions) has a different experience but often has heard the same thing: “You can’t …”.
Henry Ford isn’t someone I generally quote, but here it is: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right”.
Disney is totally something I quote: “Can’t hold me back anymore” (I could probably quote that whole song and feel good about it).
Support, from family, friends, organizations like the Epilepsy Awareness Day at Disneyland Resort and from businesses like Canadian Running, have been instrumental in development and becoming more and more comfortable with my condition. Something that used to be a source of embarrassment and something I hid is now something that I can speak about, that I can acknowledge, that I can put a positive perspective on. Hopefully hearing about it or reading about it helps others accept and love themselves too in their entirety.
Whether we have support or not, that decision is up to us. Each of us. Individually.
The only thing I can’t do now is go back to hiding it. Thank you to everyone who has listened, or shared my story. Thank you to Madeleine Cummings for hearing and expressing my story so eloquently. Thank you to Canadian Running magazine for sharing that story.