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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Making Life Better

Here's a lesson on how to make life more bearable. This is a very specific example of a strategy that can be applied to many situations.

A long time ago, I made myself a promise. I promised myself that I wouldn't allow my epilepsy affect my life. For anyone who has epilepsy, or knows anyone who has epilepsy, you know that keeping that promise is impossible.

Instead, over time I have changed my mission statement. I've decided not to allow my epilepsy to affect me negatively. I know what most of you are thinking... How? How does epilepsy not affect you negatively?

Well, there are positives and negatives to everything in life. I learned this, more than ever, in college. I went to college for Computer Engineering Technology. As part of my degree, I learned that for every choice you make in designing computer hardware there is always a positive effect and a negative effect. More memory means you can process more information (+) and get results faster (+) but it costs more money (-). Larger cache means that data is transferred quicker (+) and is processed quicker (+) but at a higher possibility of data mismatch (-). The entire premise of my degree is deciding which benefits (+) outweigh the costs (-) involved.

Using this same idea, I can say that for everything has my epilepsy has caused negatively, there has also been a positive aspect. I have seizures (-) but I can go to epilepsy camp (+) and have made life-long friends (+) and memories (+) while there. This summer I had my first seizure in 7 years (-) and can't drive for 6 months because of it (-), but I was able to find a medication which is better suited for me (+) and I learned more about where in my brain my seizure are generated (+) as well as how my seizures actually progress over time (+).

Life as a whole is about getting more positives (+) than negatives (-), and I can truly say that I have had more positive than negative in my life due to my epilepsy. But if I didn't have the right attitude toward the situation, this would not be the case.

I have dedicated a large portion of my life to not only making MY life better, but also to giving other people with epilepsy a better standard of living. I went to camp as a camper from the ages of 8 to 17. When I turned 18, I became a counselor at camp, and I do so for absolutely no compensation. I Volunteer a week of my summer (-), every year, to being with these kids and making their lives better (+). Now, don't get me wrong... I don't do it ENTIRELY for the kids. Camp is still a GREAT time for me as well (+). Most of the people who I grew up with at camp are also still there as counselors (+), some of which are my best friends (+), and I wouldn't ever allow myself to not spend that week with them.

Tonight, I spent time talking to a friend with a 4 year old son who just had his first seizure (-). Explaining to her how to deal with it (+), what what it means to her and her child (+), and where to go to get information (+), among many other things (+++). This is something that I enjoyed thoroughly. Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all glad that her child had a seizure, and I feel awful that she had to witness that (-). But I did enjoy talking her through it. Witnessing her go from a scared parent, to a calm and collective parent with a plan of how to proceed with her son's potential treatment. The joy of the fact that I was able to help someone deal with what I KNOW from experience is a terrifying thing. As far as my +/- count goes, that's about (6+) and (2-) for my friend. She now has information, confidence, and security even though her son had a seizure.

Now, as I alluded to earlier... it is impossible for epilepsy to not have any negative impact on my life. But if my epilepsy leads to more positive impacts than negative impacts, the OVERALL impact  is positive; and that's the part that matters.

TL;DR - In life there are positives and negatives to everything. If you can find a way to create more positives than negatives, ANYTHING can become a positive impact on your life.