Epilepsy and Friends…

I have the best friends in the world. You do too.

My friends, my close friends, are small in number. I know a lot of people, I like a lot of people, I have a lot of people in my life that I care about. A massive part of my jigsaw is made up of those people and I wouldn’t be without them. Yet, there is an inner-circle if you like. I think we all have that inner-circle of people in our life. These are the people that aren’t necessarily always near us physically, but their presence and essence support us completely. I rely heavily on my inner-circle to be truthful with me, even when that honesty is brutal and sometimes hard to hear. It makes me love them all the more, because I know that, in their honesty, they love me.

A good friend of mine recently left her job. Things weren’t what she hoped they would be, so she summoned up her strength and she left that which was making her unhappy. She was true to herself and her desire to give her family the best life they could have. It was a tough decision for her, really tough. Yet, rather than stay unhappy, she chose to do something positive about her situation. She made her life-changing decision, while still finding the time to be strong for me when I needed her. She is another of my amazing friends who has been there for me through thick and thin. She is another who makes me question my truths.

A good friend of mine recently lost her job. It came as a massive shock to her, but she’s pulled herself round and has decided to take the opportunity to travel and see some of the world. One of the things that she said to me, really resonated. She said that she never thought that she would put so much of her sense of self down to a ‘job’, but she did. This friend was one of the angels that I didn’t know I had. She’s been one of the friends that’s always still been there when I come through one of my dark periods of epilepsy and battles. That one statement that she made, has got me thinking about what my sense of self is made up of. How much of that is influenced by epilepsy, how much by fear, how much of my soul is misplaced. Am I true to myself or am I true to what others expect of me?

Regardless of how often I try to make myself believe that epilepsy is only a tiny piece of who I am, I know it’s not true. Epilepsy doesn’t run my life and it doesn’t define me, but it has played a significant part in shaping who I am. I’m quite a sensitive person. I think about things a lot, I dwell far too much and I emotionally feel my way through life. I find the negative actions of others’ really hard to shrug off, even if their intentions are good. Having epilepsy, for me, is a very personal battle. I have lost friends through it. Even one or two that were part of my inner-circle have stepped out of my life because of it. They left a gap and a probably a bitter lesson.

But, I do have epilepsy. It is part of my life. It is a consideration in everything I do. My friends know that a trip to a rugby match, a trip to the cinema, a trip to the pub, could all result in a trip to the emergency room. In fact going anywhere with me could result in an impromptu medical excursion. I know that when I get out of bed in the morning, I might end up going to bed in a hospital ward. I know when I get dressed up to go to a wedding I might end up wearing a modesty gown with my dignity hanging out the back of it.

Am I true to myself? Yes, in some aspects of my life. But in others, if I’m brutally honest with myself, then no, I’m not being true. I’m living the life that’s expected of me because I don’t want to let others down and I don’t want to see disappointment scrawled over their face when they look at me. I don’t want to have to explain myself. Being true to myself would be hard, but ultimately so much more rewarding. I’d be happier, I’d be fiscally poorer, I’d be emotionally richer, I’d be fulfilled, and I won’t go to meet my maker with a lifetime of what-ifs. Sounds like a no-brainer really, so why is it so hard?

I’ve supported my friends in making their life-changing decisions. I’ve actively encouraged them to live a life of joy. So why can’t I take my own advice? It would be easy to say its because of the restrictions I have because of epilepsy. It would be easy to say that and I could probably convince all but my inner-circle that it’s true. But I would know its a lie. It would be easy to say its because I can’t afford to, but can I really afford not to?

In order to be true to yourself, you have to know yourself. In order to know yourself you have to push out of the comfort zone and test your limits. You may fly and you may fall but your friends are your support network and I have no doubt that mine would catch me.

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