Olivia’s winning essay:
Living with epilepsy has been one of the most difficult hardships I have faced as I have progressed through school. The multitasking of completing work, studying, making sure to sleep enough, taking my medicine, and doing the things I need to do to prevent seizures from happening can at times be overwhelming. At times, the stress has become too much for my mind and body, and leads to a seizure.
My last seizure was in my sophomore year of high school. I remember being stressed about sports, dance, as well as the schoolwork and studying I needed to complete, and stress just got the better of me. Most of my seizures have happened in the morning while I am trying to get ready for school, and some of the time rushing. My neurologist and I have made conclusions that my seizures are mostly provoked by stress and not eating a lot due to my constant activities. I participate in volleyball, softball, dance, Leo’s Club, and AFS, along with advanced placement college courses. This cumulative course load and activities can sometimes be challenging to deal with along with epilepsy. One of my biggest fears through high school was having a seizure in the morning before school or during school/sports events. In having epilepsy, I have to live with the constant fear that I could have a seizure at any moment at become unconscious. Yet, I am treated like everyone else who does not have this disadvantage.
The repercussions of having a seizure is one of the most emotional draining things I have had to deal with in my life. After having a seizure, one cannot get their license or have a permit until one year of being seizure free. My neurologist told me this at one of my checkup appointments, but I did not need to worry about it because I was not close to 16 yet. She explained that she hates when she has to tell teens that they can not get their permit. Unfortunately, I felt one coming on shortly after that visit when I was getting ready in the morning. So, I quickly rushed to my bed and laid down like I have been told to prevent SUDEP and damages to my body. Yet, I still suffered from a grand mal seizure. As soon as I became conscious, I realized that I would not be able to get my permit, and I would have to wait 8 months to be normal like the rest of my peers. Immediately, I started sobbing, realizing that I will not be able to drive like the rest of my friends. I know this may sound silly, but not being able to get my permit just made me stand out even more. Every time a classmate would ask ifl had my permit, I would say no; they would ask why and each time I would have to say I had a seizure. Each time I had to tell someone, I felt my heart drop and almost begin to cry because I knew that I would not be like the rest of my friends. Not being able to drive along with my classmates created inconveniences for me, my friends, and my family. Not being able to drive caused my parents to drive me everywhere. I could not drive to sporting events, friends’ houses, or even drive to school in general. Often after my friends got their license, I would feel jealous because they always would talk about their different driving experiences and how it is so fun and how they feel free, and I did not even have my permit yet.
Nonetheless, I learned the hard way how to deal with epilepsy. I have learned that I need to take care of my body through getting enough sleep, eating correctly, staying hydrated, and multiple other things. Doing all of these things as well as completing school tasks and extracurricular activities has been taxing on my mental health. Overall, I believe epilepsy impacts teenagers in a way no other disease can really impact a person. I have had to deal with this all of my life, and will continue to do so.-Olivia, 2020 Scholarship Recipient
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