2015: Bring it On, I’m Ready

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100So I can’t believe that it’s already the end of the year. I know I say this every year, but somehow this year feels different. So much has happened this year so it took some time to wrap my head around all of it. You have been there to hear about most of it. One thing that I must start with though is that my New Year’s Goals List was far too long. God I’m ambitious! Among it was to graduate university, (duh) get a great social work job, get a tattoo, write daily in my journal, use my gratitude jar and exercise regularly- just to name a few.

I realized something important though. Through all the ups and downs of 2014 I achieved something that was extremely difficult in 2012-2013. I became part of civilization again. Now, if you are someone who is able to leave your house everyday, go to work and participate in social gatherings, it doesn’t really occur to you. You just go through the motions and ups and downs of your experiences. I know what that’s like because I have been there too. But when your anxiety is so high that you can only operate within certain perametres of your environment, life feels scary and everything feels like a threat. I was scared to try things outside my comfort zone, because there was always the hypothetical seizure looming on my back. One of my good friends got me to go to an exercise class with her, which was huge. The shame I felt surrounding having seizures seemed to grow like a tumor  and I was so afraid of what people would think or say. I was so appreciative of my friend’s relentlessness, and although it sounds like an odd thing to say but sometimes you need your friends to give you a little shove in the right direction. I also went boxing day shopping this year which I definitely would not have done in the past few years. Progress, progress, progress.

The support that I felt from my friends and family was huge, and I felt it whether through text, call, email or face to face. Its presence did not go unnoticed.

I am writing this on December 30, and I realized something about myself with this Epilepsy. Although I have a network of friends and I was able to graduate, I still had a dull feeling of depression residing within me. (Otherwise known as dysthymia). I had forgotten who I was. I was Epilepsy and  Epilepsy was me. I had nothing going on but trips to the hospital, doctor, and constant medication changes. As 2014 rolled on and I returned home after graduation, it seemed like I was having a mid-life crisis, which is a little jarring for a 24 year old.

My time at the Epilepsy Hospital was disappointing, as no new information was found despite invasive and extensive testing. I began to wonder if I could ever be ‘fixed’ (like a crappy old computer or something). I know everyone at the hospital is still working on my case, but perhaps I went into the whole situation with higher hopes than I should have. Epilepsy can be complicated, and in my case sometimes there is no known reason as to why a person has seizures. Accepting that facet of my life has been very difficult. However, not to jinx anything but my new medication seems to be working which is a major bonus.

However, to be totally candid 2014 has been disappointing. I know my seizures have decreased but it is what it is. I hope 2015 is better. I’m sorry, I just can’t be optimistic 24/7.

On the other hand, here are 5 awesome things that happened this year:
1. Graduating from University
2. The opportunity for extensive testing at the Neurological Hospital
3. I was able to see my cousins for the first time in years
4. I adopted my dog
5. My medication is working for the time being

I am going to send you off with a quote that my friend posted on facebook. It uplifted me and I realized how badly I needed to see it. She managed to sum up what I wanted to say in almost 1000 words. Here are her words of wisdom:

“Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about the ones who don’t and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.. Bring it on 2015, I’m ready.” – A close friend

Love you all! xox

Happy Holidays From me to You!!!

215085_10150148564450776_3032643_nHappy Holidays from me to you!! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hannukah. (Or all three!) I know this time of year can be hard on some, so try to keep your stress levels low as the holidays needn’t be perfect. If you are alone this Holiday season, try to phone a friend and spread some of the cheer.

I am super busy during this holiday season, but I wanted to share it with you!

May you be happy, healthy and full of spirit. A new year is coming, so that is always room for potential growth!

Love you all! xox

I am a Recipient of the Liebster Award!

  liebster award  Hey Everyone! I have super exciting news!  MJ of the blog livingwithepilepsy.wordpress.com nominated me for the Liebester award, which is an award that exists solely on the internet and is given to bloggers, by bloggers. As part of accepting this award, I had to “pay it forward” by nominating 5-10 other blogs. I also have to answer some questions about myself and questions that pertain to my blog.

As a new blogger and awardee myself, I have had to research more about the Liebster Award:
• It is an award that exists only on the internet and is awarded to bloggers by bloggers.
• The word “liebster” is German in origin and has several definitions that include dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, welcome, sweetheart and boyfriend (really?) (Thank you MJ for their research!!).

Firstly, the blogs that I nominated are:
Fighting BED https://ellechapmanblog.wordpress.com/
My Epilepsy- The Great Shake http://kirstysblog03.wordpress.com/
No Such Thing As Can’t http://nosuchthingascant613.wordpress.com/
dragonandrose- My Personal Experiences with Epilepsy http://dragonandrose.me/
Aspergers on The Outside https://aspergersontheoutside.wordpress.com/

I gratefully accepted this award and am now paying it forward! Now the questions I must answer are daunting and will cause me to scratch my head. I shall do my best though!

1. What is the main goal of your blog?
Initially, this blog was meant to talk about Social Work and Body Image. However, once I found out that there was a community of people on wordpress who shared their daily experiences of living with Epilepsy, I thought it would help me to work through the frustrations and triumphs of my condition and be able to share it with others. I also hope to educate others about Epilepsy, as I find that there is little understanding about what Seizures are, as well as what to and not do do in Seizure first aid.

2. Link to your most favourite blog post and tell why it’s your favourite.
My favourite post on my blog so far is “Let Me Tell You My Story About Being Strong and Vulnerable”. https://sitagaia.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/let-me-tell-you-my-story-about-being-strong-and-vulnerable/
Through these past few years I have learned that being true to myself and the ability to be vulnerable has fostered some very strong friendships. I have also learned that my friends and family wanted to help me no matter how bad the situation was. I learned a lot from Brene Brown (Her Ted Talk is in the post) and it made me realize how much it connected with my current journey. By being vulnerable, and my true self, I have found meaningful connections.

3. What is the one moment in your life you would re-do if you had the opportunity?
This is a very difficult question. I generally think my actions through very  carefully before acting, but I am human. I think I would take back ever hurting anyone’s feelings during a fight or in an everyday conversation. I hate to think of people suffering with pain.

4. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I would say telepathy, but reading other people’s thoughts seems kind of like a violation. So instead I would choose invisibility. I could shrink away from awkward situations and no one would know where I went.

5. If you could have a large block of free time, what would you be doing?
I would want to spend it with my good friends, whether we were drinking coffee or going for a walk. Spending quality time with good friends is priceless.

6. When was the last time you were so happy you broke out in tears? And why?
Well I would say my university convocation, but you already know that.  Four years ago I worked at three different group homes helping the individuals integrate into the community by going on outings and partaking in fitness activities. One of the residents loved Mamma Mia, so I helped plan a Mamma Mia party where residents of the three different homes could socialize and watch the movie. It was my last regular shift, and although I knew that my boss asked me whether I liked chocolate or vanilla cake (chocolate!)  I had no idea how much else she had up her sleeve. At the cutting of the cake she gave me a few gifts from the organization, and when I thought it would be a good idea to say a few things to everyone I burst into tears. I had no idea how much the residents truly liked me, and the fact that I was going to be leaving was a big deal. Additionally, I didn’t realize how much working with the different individuals impacted me on a personal level. One of the residents who is very quiet came over and hugged me during my sobfest. It was so moving I can barely explain it. I can’t recall spontaneously bursting into tears out of pure gratitude like that before.

7. How has your faith had an effect on your life, relationships, and blog?
Faith hasn’t played a big role in my life, relationships or blog. Although there are times where I ask “someone” out there that my new medication will work or that the seizures will stop, generally it does not play an important role in my life.

8. Who is the person you’ve learned the most from in your life?
Ouch this is a tough question, because I feel that I have learned something from everyone in my life. Both of my parents, as well as my older sibling have taught me a lot, so I really do not know where I would be without them. If I would have to narrow it down to just one person, I would have to say it is my Mom, because she has imparted words of wisdom that have helped me greatly in my journey. She has taught me that it is okay to carve my own path, even though it may be different from my peers. My journey is uniquely mine and that is okay. She also has had many life experiences, plus her empathic nature has helped to teach me how to treat others with love and kindness. I hope to grow up to be like her.

9. What are 3-5 adjectives that sum up who you are?
I wonder if my friends and family will agree? 😉

Conscientious
Bubbly
Friendly
Audacious
Thoughtful

10. Name something on your bucket list. Why did it make it on your list?
I don’t really have a bucket list per se, but I do have a “life plan”. So my life plan has been to go to university, get a fulfilling job, travel, etc etc. But the one thing on this so called bucket list is to see both Adele and Lady Gaga in concert. Separate concerts, of course. There is something so beautiful and heart wrenching about Adele’s music that I just want to fall to my knees and weep. (Not spontaneously haha). Her music just touches me in a way that is indescribable. In addition,  Lady Gaga doesn’t just put on a concert, she puts on a performance. I must see what this magical performance is like before I die!

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100Thank you again MJ for the nomination!! This is so exciting!

Let Me Tell You About The Best Day of My Life

joyousAh. The best day in one’s life. It is hard to narrow down. If you ask Moms they will generally say when they gave birth. If you ask newlyweds they will say The Best Day of their Life was their wedding. But I am neither a Mom or a newlywed, so I have a bit of a different answer.

When I tell most people what The Best Day in My Life was, they are often surprised. It doesn’t seem like something that one would put on the Top 3 List. But alas, The Best Day in My Life was my convocation (graduation for university). I was receiving my Bachelor’s in Social Work with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. Wait, was it a Masters degree? Nope! Even a PhD? Nope! Did I win any awards? Nope, so this is why people are often so sceptical.

My convocation was the best day in my life for one big reason. I made it through my undergraduate degree, despite the fact that in my final semester I had a terrible injury due to a seizure which made working at the library (or working at all!) very challenging due to the pain of the accident. Thankfully, I have a computer desk (basically a hard top with a soft cushion that you can use in bed) so I lay in bed with my laptop on my lap, typing furiously away. It’s kind of ironic actually, because I was also an academic mentor during that semester, and I told my students that it is not useful to work in bed. I didn’t bother to mention that I didn’t adhere to that rule.

happy balloonsOn the day of my Convocation my excitement was high and I couldn’t believe it was finally happening! I wanted to look my best (call me vain) so I booked a hair styling appointment weeks in advance. The height of my excitement didn’t help, because sometimes extreme emotions (such as excitement or depression) can trigger seizures. I don’t really remember super clearly how it started, but I was waiting in line with my peers, waiting to be called into the convocation ceremony and boom! Suddenly I was outside sitting on a rock talking to a person from the registrar’s office. Thankfully my  Mom and  friends were quick to figure things out and dashed to find where I was. I said I wanted to go into the ceremony, despite the fact that I wouldn’t be able to sit with my peers. According to my friends, the seizures continued throughout the ceremony so I sat backstage with a friend, so I could walk across the stage when my department was called.

When it came close to walking across the stage there were many concerns. Would I fall and hurt myself while walking across the stage? Should someone accompany me? Did I want to be in a wheelchair? I said No, No No! I earned it and I wanted to be on the stage, just me, myself and I. So finally I got in line to go across, and when the announcer called my name I stood on the stage for a full 10 seconds (which is long at these events!) while I heard my friends and Mom cheering from the audience. It was a pure 10 seconds of bliss.

I had finally made it, through all my trials and tribulations. All the seizures during the convocation and beforehand. Even though I had injured myself I still pushed through. This experience has taught me that I can do anything, if I just put my mind to it. It has also taught me that I have an amazing family and friends, as they supported me (and continue to support me) throughout this journey.

pugSo even though The Best Day of my Life was riddles with seizures, that doesn’t matter to me. I had reached a HUGE milestone and was finally going to be taking the next step in my life.

What was The Best Day in Your Life? What is your Ideal best day? I wanna know!

Lots of love xox

Living a True and Authentic Life

Some things happen for a reason. Sometimes it is hard to pinpoint why they happen, but they just do.

enlightened heartPart of the reason why I started this blog was to connect with others who have Epilepsy, so I wouldn’t feel lost in my journey to wellness. I felt like I was the only one who was going through the challenges of living with Epilepsy. Boy, oh Boy was I wrong! Not only have I made connections with people who have Epilepsy, but with people who have other (dis)abilities. (I use the term ‘disability’ loosely). I received comments from people encouraging me to keep writing blog posts. Comments that also made me feel less alone in my experience of living with Epilepsy.

Now, to digress a little, when I was ten years old I picked up an issue of Time magazine. That month’s issue was about a little boy who was living with on the Autism Spectrum. As I eagerly read each page, I became more and more fascinated. There were people who perceived and communicated with the world the world that was different from the way I did!  This fascination quickly turned into a passion. I wanted to help those with “different” abilities. (I say different loosely here. I believe we all have something valuable to contribute). At the mere age of ten I didn’t have the words to express what this role was. I finally settled on the word ‘counselor’, because it was a word I understood to fit with my future goals.

Now, after graduating from university with a Bachelor’s of Social Work degree, I have the words and knowledge to be able to express what my ten year old self couldn’t articulate. After many positions working with people with (dis)abilities, I have learned a couple of troubling things. In some cases, some individuals with physical (dis)abilities have told me about the social isolation that they have experienced, solely because of their (dis)ability. Additionally, I have learned that people with (dis)abilities often do not have the same opportunities as those without (dis)abilities. I find these two things alone to be deeply troubling.

10672202_10153505184896808_7147273148797630415_nSo, in part of my own personal work and volunteer experiences, and in addition to the outpouring of support that I have received on this blog, I feel that it is my calling to be an advocate for people of various (dis)abilities. Perhaps an advocate for people with just Epilepsy.
I have learned that I am not alone in my experience with Epilepsy, and because of that I feel that I have a voice that could be of use to others with (dis)abilities. I have the personal experience and compassion, as well as the hands on learning and experience that would help me in this position. Through these past two years, I have come to the conclusion that I could not see myself doing anything else. How *could* I see myself doing anything else? I have received so much help, and it pains me to think of those who are suffering and cannot access the assistance that they need.

So this is my way of living an Authentic Life. Helping others since I care, and I am so grateful for the help that I have received. Additionally, if I could help people with (dis) abilities who need the assistance to end their pain and find a way for them to live meaningful lives, that would be golden.

So, those are my thoughts on living my own true and Authentic Life. The future looks good.

How I Lost Myself In My Epilepsy…

…And how I found myself again! YAY!

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100Epilepsy and uncontrolled seizures has taken me on quite the ride in the past couple of years. I have had to go through constant fear of having seizures, not to mention being hyper aware of my body at all times to try and protect myself from an accident. My mood was all over the map; I went from anxiety to depression to a combination of both in one day alone.

After a seizure I often feel tired and sometimes depressed. Both of which are not uncommon for people who have seizures, but it is hard to deal with. I try and fight through fatigue with a vengeance, even if it means doing things a bit slower than most people. I try to work through the depression when it happens, and since it is a side effect of having your brain completely scrambled, it usually un-scrambles, thankfully. As for the anxiety, I have tried to just do things as I have been able to. If it means having my Mom walk me somewhere, then so be it. Better than drowning in my anxiety, right?

But the past couple weeks I have been like Sita x 1000. If you know me in real life then you will know that this is pretty intense and high energy. I have never felt so happy, bubbly and goofy than in the past little while. My Dad even commented that I seem like my old self again, and you know how parents know you better than anyone! (Well, mine at least). It feels great to feel happy and excited about life. I was never going to give up even when my seizures were uncontrolled, but I didn’t feel as excited and full of zest about my future prior to this.
I feel happy and my hyper energy makes me seem like a bit of an idiot, but I swear to god that it has nothing to do with watching too many sitcoms on Netflix. I can’t help it that I like sitcoms and relate to the characters! Since I am in a seizure free period, I am trying to socialize with friends and be as productive as possible. Being active has also made me remember what it’s like to be out and about, which is great!!

I am on a new medication so I think that is helping to control the seizures, but I really hope that I’m not just in a “honeymoon period” of my medication working. I hope this actually does the trick for the long term.

The important part of this post? After a little while I finally feel like my “true self” is shining through. I feel giggly, happy, and just more excited about life in general, despite the seizures.

Hope you’re all doing well! Keep fighting the good fight! xox