A Letter to My Younger Self
by: Alexandra Markovich
Dear Lil’ Me,
There is so much I wish I could tell you, but I am going to try to stick to the high points.
Being diagnosed with Epilepsy as a child will be difficult for you, mostly because one minute you walked into the doctor’s office an average kid, and the next minute you somehow walked out different. This moment will live in the back of your mind for your childhood, adolescence, and part of your adult life because this was the first time you felt a sense of “otherness.” Not knowing what this feeling was, you will embark on a journey to identify and understand it for most of your young life. Though the journey is worth it, I have left you some tips to help you along the way.
Middle School is Awkward
In middle school, you will probably feel like an outsider. Yet, do not think you are an outsider because you have Epilepsy. Middle school is uncomfortable, and, frankly, everyone feels misplaced and self‑conscious during this time in their life. However, if you start feeling low or don’t feel like you fit in, I encourage you to reach out to close friends and family. Surrounding yourself with loved ones and getting your thoughts out will help you through these challenging times. Also, finding an activity where your mind can go free is important. Since you will go to so many doctor’s appointments and tests, you will learn to love to read. This love for reading will later help you become who you are supposed to be.
High school and college are times for mistakes, and don’t punish yourself for making them.
High school was a tough time for you, personally. You were having a lot of seizures in high school, so you frequently missed school. So, I would say this is the time where you should get more organized. Being more organized will help you stay on top of assignments and projects you may have missed. Some tools that can help you are agendas, monthly calendars, and daily ‘To-Do’ lists. This is also a great time to start learning how and where to record your symptoms from your medications and seizures.
Staying on top of your school work and medications is not the only thing you need to learn in high school and college. It sounds cheesy to say, but you will be exposed to drugs and alcohol, and you need to learn what you want to do in these situations. Drugs (no matter the type) and alcohol (no matter how much) have serious effects on medications. So, I urge you to be transparent with your friends about your condition. I know telling someone outside of your family about your condition can be intimidating at first, but I am sure you will find that your true friends will stick with you.
Being honest with your friends will also help you in the future because one night you will go out to drink with your friend, Brooke, and her boyfriend, Kris. You probably forgot to take your medicine the night prior, and, unfortunately, you had a seizure the very next morning. Before we go any further, I want to tell you these slip-ups happen. You do not wake up one morning knowing how to take care of yourself. You have to learn, so do not beat yourself for making a mistake. Anyways, since you had told Brooke and Kris several times about your Epilepsy, this allowed all of you to come up with a plan just in case an emergency happened. So, Brooke knew when you had a seizure that she needed to lay you on your side and call your family. If you weren’t truthful with Brooke, she might have stuck something in your mouth, causing you to choke. Your condition could have also surprised her, and you would have taken an unnecessary ambulance ride to the hospital.
What Epilepsy Really Is
Epilepsy is not a curse. It really is a blessing in disguise. I know that is a cliché, and you are probably rolling your eyes the other way. But you will see one day that Epilepsy is only part of who you are, and your Epilepsy helped create the person you were supposed to be.
The most important thing I could tell you is do not waste years, or even a minute, thinking you are less than someone else because you have Epilepsy. You are not, and you deserve everything you want out of life. So, don’t be afraid to go after what you want. Be a force of nature and run with it.