Depending on where in the world you’re reading this from it’s been 2018 for at least 24 hours now. While everybody celebrates the end of one year and the start of another in their own ways, this year I’d like to reflect on what happened in the last 12 months and what I’d like to happen in the next 12 months.
For me, the first day of 2017 started with no voice and the beginning of a month long case of laryngitis. About a week into the new year I had a seizure which is believed to have been caused by me being so sick while not being on a high enough dosage of the medication I was on at the time. This seizure was possibly one of my most extreme seizures with the after effects being very severe and lasting longer than a month.
I was so out of it after this seizure that when my mum asked me if there was anybody I wanted her to let know about what had happened I told her to tell people who didn’t even know that I had epilepsy.
Before the end of the month I fell down some stairs as I was still quite wobbly on my feet from the seizure and injured my ankle. This injury is complex and still ongoing. This seizure also resulted in my licence being revoked until I could get medical clearance again.
From this point I spent my year taking what felt like one step forward and ten steps back when it came to my physical health.
To say the least, my 2017 clearly didn’t begin on a high note and, of course, I had a lot of negative moments throughout the year as does everybody. With that being said I also had a lot of highs throughout the year.
Halfway through February, while I was still recovering from the seizure I had in January, I went to my mum and said “I have a thing I think I might want to do but I’m really not sure I want to do it or how to do it.”
The next week I stopped hiding my diagnosis and began raising funds and awareness for Epilepsy.
I spent the whole of March fundraising towards a $500 goal and raising awareness around my town. Through this I faced a lot of ignorance, stigma and negativity but I also got to meet the wonderful ladies over at Epilepsy Queensland Inc., meet a lovely family who are also on their own purple adventure, strengthen new and old friendships and I got to educated over 300 people of a town where Epilepsy isn’t talked about. People who have epilepsy or a loved one with epilepsy would approach me while I was campaigning and tell me how much it meant to them to see such a campaign and the positive response it was getting.
This was all such a surreal experience for me as in the lead up to my campaign I had told a friend “this is so daunting, overwhelming & scary. It’s making me so anxious to be doing this. Why did I volunteer to raise awareness about a cause nobody cares about when I haven’t even fully recovered yet?”
By the end of the month I had collected 340 signatures on the Purple Pledge which was a record for Epilepsy Queensland Inc. I also raised $349 through physical and online donations. Both of these were far above what I ever expected to achieve and I’m forever thankful to everybody that played a part in these accomplishments. I look forward to what my 2018 campaign will bring my way.
In June I started this blog in hopes to continue educating people around the world throughout the year. While I have been posting blog entries on my own time, rather than a consistent weekly schedule, it does impact my life more than I expected and I aim to post more this year. When I experience things in life that are impacted by my epilepsy I tend to think about what kind of blog posts I could make from that experience which somewhat forces me to find more positives and messages from that moment. The way this blog can make me see things in a different light has been super beneficial towards me and how I handle things that are thrown my way. Though it has few entries at the moment this blog has also taught family, friends and strangers from around the world more about me, my condition and how it impacts my life which has been great. I’m so excited to continue this throughout 2018.
Some people in my life know that I left high school early and even less people know that I left early because of epilepsy and the impact it was having.
In July I started studying again by beginning a Diploma of Music Industry (Business) online course.
Before I could apply for this diploma I had to take an Australian Core Skills Framework test in Maths and English in June and I needed a minimum of exit level 3 in both fields to be accepted into my course.
Knowing that I left high school early and how epilepsy often affects my cognitive skills I was extremely anxious to take those tests so when I completed both as exit level 5 (the best result possible on an ACSF test) I was ecstatic and incredibly proud of myself.
To be able to say I left high school early but can work at an exit level 5 level in English and Maths and am halfway through a diploma in a field I’m passionate about is an accomplishment that I’m truly proud of.
In October I faced a major fear of mine by flying interstate alone to surprise my friend in Adelaide for her 21st birthday. This adventure was another spur of the moment decision for me as I only started planning and booking flights in October. I flew down myself, got to surprise and hang out with one of my best friends, made new friends, went to a 21st birthday party that involved alcohol despite being in a different state to my main support system should something have gone wrong, made my way around a city I was unfamiliar with all by myself, had fun and flew home by myself. This was such an accomplishment for me and it helped to show myself, and hopefully others, that even with epilepsy I can still go on fun, crazy, spur of the moment adventures by myself and be okay. That spontaneous decision is definitely one of the highlights of 2017 for me.
When I returned home nearly a week later I had a letter from Epilepsy Queensland Inc. waiting for me to inform me that I had been nominated for Epilepsy Queensland Inc.’s Role Model Award for the work I had done throughout 2017. I was shocked and immensely grateful to even be considered for a nomination.
In November, by a chance of fate, I was linked in with a lovely lady from the other side of town who also has epilepsy and was inspired by my work in March to do some fundraising. Inspiring her and being able to help her pull off a successful lamington drive with funds going to Epilepsy Queensland Inc. was such an honour. I don’t often get to see the effect my work has had so it was very touching to see that a purple adventure I went on inspired somebody else to take on their own purple adventure.
In December I went to Brisbane for Epilepsy Queensland Inc.’s Annual Celebration, AGM and Awards night and it was a surreal moment when I was announced as 2017’s recipient of the Role Model award. If I had an epileptic role model growing up maybe I wouldn’t have hidden my diagnosis for so long and I could’ve handled a lot of things regarding my epilepsy very differently so to be nominated for such an award is extremely important to me. I hope I can continue to live up to such a title and help others with epilepsy or their loved ones throughout 2018.
At Epilepsy Queensland Inc.’s Annual Celebration, AGM and Awards night there was also a forum with a group of panellists from different fields speaking about different ways technology can help those with epilepsy and their loved ones. My friend that attended the night with me learnt so much that night but so did my mum and I which was really great and refreshing. That night we were also introduced to an Epileptologist working in Brisbane which has already opened up some new opportunities for 2018 which is really exciting and I hope to make some medical progress this year.
Throughout the year I’ve strengthened friendships, started new friendships, was inspired by others, got to inspire others, explored new independence, made change even if only a small amount, tackled some fears and had people looking out for me which was refreshing.
In 2018 I hope I can relive some of those great moments, experience new adventures, make new friends and continue to strengthen old friendships. I also hope to carry the ambition I found in 2017 into 2018, keep setting goals and working to achieve them, to continue having faith in myself, take more risks and make more spontaneous decisions.
Two points from this blog entry that I hope you take with you into 2018 are that life’s not always good but life’s not always bad either and you should take risks because they can lead to wondrous experiences.
Happy New Year!