At the age of 15, I was diagnosed with epilepsy while on a mission trip in Ecuador. I had a grand-mal seizure in the hotel room, and after that my life was changed forever. At the time, I had zero clue what epilepsy was, and just assumed I might be dealing with a seizure or two every so often. I was very wrong. When I came back to America, reality hit, and I began my long adventure with different doctors and different medications. In high school, I dealt with many high and lows, the hardest being not being able to drive. I was able to get my license at 16, but two months after, I had a grand-mal seizure, and therefore could not drive for 6 months. I was devastated. I watched as all my friends drove, and I felt like a child who still needed my parents to drop me off and pick me up from places. I did not know a single other person with epilepsy, and I felt I had no one I could relate to. I found myself falling into a place of denial, and my junior and senior years of high school were two of the hardest years of my life. I had my family and friends by my side, but I felt alone and out of place. I did not know at the time, but there was hope and a future ahead for me, and all I needed to do was not give up and keeping fighting, which was much easier said than done.
After I graduated from high school, I came to Auburn University, hoping that I would finally find people I could relate to, and find a passion that would help me become excited for my future. I joined a sorority my freshman year, and met incredible women who not only supported me, but also made sure I never gave up on myself. I realized in college that I had two choices: I could either let epilepsy hold me back, or I could stand up and fight for my future and run after my dreams. I began with teaching myself how to let people in. In high school, it was hard for me to talk about epilepsy at all. Once I came to Auburn, it hit me that if I ever wanted to get anywhere, I needed to learn how to accept support and encouragement. After my freshman year of college, I began therapy, and began setting goals for myself. One of my biggest goals in college was to make a 4.0 GPA one semester. Because of my epilepsy, I have a horrible memory, and school is difficult for me. I knew it would be hard, but it was so important to me that I not let epilepsy hold me back from making the grades I knew I could make. Even though the library basically became my second home, I made a 4.0 not just one semester, but two. I was able to do this not just by hard work, but also by the strong support of my family and friends. None of them have ever given up on me, and it was not until I allowed them to support me that I realized I am not alone and will never be alone.
In December 2014, I graduate from Auburn University. There were many times I never thought I would make it, but I cannot put into words how excited and proud I am that I will be graduating. Along with my family and friends, the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia has provided large amounts of support for me, and allowed me to meet other people dealing with epilepsy. My goal after graduation is to give back to the epilepsy community. My life motto is “carpe diem,” and everyday I try and remind myself that I can either seize the day and run after my dreams, or let epilepsy hold me back. With never-ending encouragement and the will to never give up, I am able to seize the day.