It’s hard to be different. It’s hard to go through your day, look at all of your friends, and feel like the outsider, the one with the secret, the one who suffers from complicated measures they won’t ever have to.
How do I know this? Because I am this. When I was twelve I developed epilepsy and my whole life was turned upside down. All of my worries, from schoolwork to friendships to what was lurking in the corner of my room at night suddenly seemed so juvenile. Nightmares for me began and ended that one word: seizure. I suffered anxiety and a feeling of detachment from the world, as though I was the only one who felt the way I did- and the only one who ever would. While my friends complained about boys and makeup, I watched them in envy while I had to flinch every time I walked into a brightly lit room or a school dance. It felt cruel. It felt unfair. It felt like the entire world was against me, and it wanted only one thing: My destruction. I spent days trying to understand why this was happening to me, fighting against the new boundaries that sprang up around me. I dreamed that I was standing in the middle of a circle of flames, and there was no way out and no way to talk to anyone and tell them that I felt as though this new challenge was eating me alive, because I knew that they would never completely understand.
I can’t say that things have magically become cured since then. I can’t say that I’m one hundred percent better, that I never feel angry or disappointed with my life. But I can say a few things that help make my days brighter.
The first is that I realized how strong of a person I am. While my situation is something I would never wish upon anyone, and something I most certainly wish was not happening to me, I’ve decided to be proud of it. For me, there is a certain amount of joy that comes from being able to stand up and say, “Hello, world! I have epilepsy! Now, come at me bro!” I may not be able to accomplish a lot of physical wonders, but I can empower myself emotionally.
The second is that it offered me a perspective other people don’t have. Battling this showed me that life is really just an entanglement of events that no one can see coming. It has taught me that living in the present is so important. There is always the looming thought that I could have a migraine tomorrow, or a freak seizure the next day. But then I stop and take a second, I put in my earphones and listen to movie scores and write for hours, and I feel a rush of adrenaline soaring through my veins. I feel alive. I take the time to see the way the sky can look heavy or dusky on a certain day. I take time to appreciate the way that that certain person’s eyes look when he smiles, and the way that I feel when he smiles at me.
So I think about what is happening to me. I acknowledge that it really, really can be unfortunate and a supreme hindrance at certain times. But then I find hope. I find hope in the fact that tomorrow might bring about something incredible, and that I am capable of standing up to whatever challenges might arise with the sun. And with that knowledge comes a handful of thoughts. One: It is never too late to fix something. Two: Taking a moment to acknowledge the thoughts running through your mind can do wonders for your heart. Three: I am human, and therefore, I have a right to feel whatever I want, whenever I want to. And the last one is this: I am different. But that difference is what makes me me.