My Story – Living With Epilepsy
by CAMDEN BARATZ
Every day until I was 14, I lived an average life. I never felt real fear or anxiety. I was just your normal, average kid who liked to make the most out of even the littlest things. I played on a basketball team and was a Boy Scout working my way through the merit badges.
Everything seemed like it was going well for me, but suddenly my whole life changed. I began having seizures and was eventually diagnosed with epilepsy. I had no clue how my life was going to transform.
The first year, the seizures took a toll on me, both mentally and physically. I started to have them while playing with my basketball team, so the coaches had me sit out for safety reasons. By the time that happened, I was already so mentally drained that I just decided to quit basketball. I also decided to give up Boy Scouts at the same time because I couldn’t go camping, which was my favorite part.
I started to feel like epilepsy wasn’t just a part of me, it was me. I felt almost as if I was trapped, and I couldn’t see a light to show me the way out.
During the three-year process to find the right medications to work for me, I struggled through many problems. The biggest was dealing with the medicines’ side effects, such as dizziness, memory problems, and sleep issues. During the process, all these side effects damaged my academic experience in high school. Over time I adapted to the side effects, and I learned how to cope. I stayed after school for tutoring, was able to retake tests, and completed extra credit. Putting in this extra effort helped me keep my grades consistent. I’m grateful for my good friends who understand my epilepsy and always support me. I’ve continued to work at an after-school job.
In the past few months, I’ve realized that I can adapt to my limitations, rather than struggle against them. One of the biggest is not being able to drive. So many of my friends have already gotten their permits and licenses. I joined the JoshProvides Epilepsy Assistance Foundation Support Group, which awarded me two UBER transportation grants so I can feel the freedom of getting around by myself without relying on my parents or friends. I’m thankful for this organization that supports people like me who that can’t drive because of their seizures.
After overcoming some challenges, I can adapt easier to those that remain.
Now I can see college as an achievable goal. I finally feel I can take the enormous leap into a new world, full of more challenges for me to overcome. I hope I can help and inspire people who are facing their own limitations.
Epilepsy is no longer who I am. It is something I have with limitations that I now know I can overcome.