A woman holds her hand to her heart with confidence. She is teaching to a school of her peers.

The School of Epilepsy

As a 33-year-old, I have learned a lot of lessons in my life. Sometimes from kind mentors and sometimes by life events. I have also had the occasional unsolicited lessons. Epilepsy has been a contributor to life lessons as well.

Growing up with epilepsy

When I was younger, I was VERY opinionated. (To be honest, that hasn't changed too much. I just make sure I have strong research before I form my opinions.) However, I stopped being confident in what I would say or what I thought I believed. I still had strong opinions. I was just prone to reconsider them often.

Here's lesson No. 1 from "The School of Epilepsy." BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! I had pretty low self-esteem until I found out I had a seizure disorder. I knew I was smart and that I had strong reasons for my opinions (right or wrong, I knew my reasons). However, when my opinion would get questioned, I would get stressed. And a trigger for my seizure disorder is stress.

Getting picked on as a kid

I was in softball and had amazing friends from my team. But kids are kids. If you act ditsy and you are 10 or under... you'll probably get teased for being ditsy. Without understanding why, I would often forget why I was doing something. I would forget my reason, or I would forget the question altogether.

My brothers would pick on me for mixing up my current events' dates. I didn't always know the dates, but I knew what happened during the events. Or my father would work with me on spelling and get so frustrated when I could barely ever get a word right. I knew how to spell, but I would forget. And I would be "sick" during spelling competitions.

Although I was (am) very outgoing, I also hated public speaking. I did not believe in myself. I listened to the little jokes my friends made. Until I was diagnosed, I was always checking my facts and not sure of myself. I just listened to everyone but myself.

Another lesson from the School of Epilepsy

The School of Epilepsy lesson No. 2: YOU ARE NOT A BURDEN! I consistently felt like a burden. Well, guess what, younger Gabrielle, if someone offers to help then you are not a burden to them. I didn't believe this one bit.

I was sure anyone asking to help was just being polite and hated the actual idea of having to drive me places or sleep over because I was having too many seizures. I consistently felt like everyone's burden. This finally changed when I had a friend that needed a significant amount of help. I could tell she felt like a burden to me, even though I had offered to help her. That's when I realized my family and friends were giving me a genuine offer to help.

Passing lessons on to my children

Although these are tough lessons, they are positive lessons to learn. I can teach these lessons to my daughter and future children. Believing in yourself and ultimately trusting that people want to help you and that you are not their burden are great lessons.

Thank you, School of Epilepsy. Your lessons are helping me educate my children on topics that I might not have focused on as much if I hadn't experienced them myself.

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