Everyone experiences epilepsy in different ways. Some have the fortitude to endure a physical injury while they crumble at an emotional one (and vice versa). Sometimes the results of the experience disappear, only to reappear at a later date. Sometimes it is immediate.
My arm is still injured. My physiotherapist is working with it and its getting better. An astrologist I had a conversation with thinks it’s psychosomatic. Personally, I believe the physiotherapist more, for lots of reasons, the main reason being that there could be lots of causes for my arm to be injured whereas it seems disconnected to have been related to trauma. This has been going on for months and the only reason it got as bad as it has is because I assumed it to be minor and did not stop being active. That made it worse. For the last month, I haven’t been able to run or be active because of the injury. If I hold my arm in one position for too long, it starts aching again and I realize now that it’s not a minor injury. It needs to be fixed before I can continue to keep running (never mind adding bouldering).
The reason I am writing about trauma is that I recently read a book about epilepsy. It was the memoir and experiences of an individual who is roughly my age and was diagnosed around the same time that I was. While I know that everyone has a diverse situation, theirs was both vastly similar and vastly different from mine. That author was trying to explain a life with epilepsy. They reflected on their seizures, what it looked like, what it felt like, doctors, medications. They reflected on the goals they would have liked to have reached but did not. Underneath the message of trying to be positive was constant despondency. Every chapter, every story, every photograph drew an image of a person who chose not to go beyond their limitations. Some of those limitations were realistic while most of them seemed self-imposed. The author described how great life would be like if they didn’t have epilepsy. They could work. They could be independent. They could go skydiving.
What that author did not consider and acknowledge was that sometimes life isn’t great, even without epilepsy. My arm is not injured because of epilepsy but it has definitely caused an impact on my life. I have to go to appointments and do stretches to try to get it back in proper shape. It is unrelated to epilepsy and a world without epilepsy isn’t necessarily perfect just due to the absence of the condition. Imagining life without it is unconstructive and then admiring that “perfect existence without epilepsy” just leads to a further unhappiness. I was not impressed with that book.
I am in no way discounting emotional trauma reflecting into a physical experience. I believe that is possible, I believe that it happens, I know people who have it as part of their life. Trauma can express itself in any number of ways. I know that my epilepsy is not a physical reproduction of trauma. I am 99% sure that the injury on my arm is not a traumatic echo.
That doesn’t change that having a major medical condition is traumatic. It, in itself, is trauma. Physical, emotional, psychological, physiological, spiritual: epilepsy is a form of trauma. It expresses itself in different ways in each person, both the condition and how the person responds to it. There are all the different ways that people deal with trauma and this is not different. I could look it up on Google and list all the methods that people manage trauma but I don’t want to.
Here’s my point: Don’t let epilepsy make you into a whiny b*tch. Yes, that’s a bold statement. I can’t go deep-sea scuba diving but that’s a limitation I cannot change. There are so many other things in the world that I can do, why would I ignore all of those and blame the trauma of epilepsy? I repeat: The whole world is out there. Some of us can’t afford it, some of us can’t get away from responsibilities. The belief though that the world is perfect for anyone is just a recipe for unhappiness. Epilepsy may cause some limitations but it does not cause unhappiness.