The second guest blog post comes directly from India from Advik.
I grew up in the UK as my parents immigrated there back in the ’60s. All throughout my adolescence, I was discriminated against at school, in the playground, in my neighborhood because I was Indian. After a while, I gotten used to it and simply ignored it.
Then my #epilepsy came in. In my second year of secondary school (high school) , I had my first seizure. And it was at school. Professors and colleagues panicked, an ambulance was called, parents came rushing and, you know already, more.
I woke up in the hospital with an IV and a few meds.
Over the year, I had several other seizures at home, at school, in the supermarket and so on. In total: 28 seizures that year. At school, people started making fun of me, imitating my seizures in a cry for attention. And the year went on like that.
For my third year, I went abroad to the USA. It was an entirely different experience, although the discrimination was present there also: for both being an Indian, as well as having epilepsy. In total: 8 seizures that year.
Coming back to the UK was strange. Seeing the rigors of the UK school system, differences in behavior, everything was weird.
But something weirder happened. In my second day of school, I was called to the Headmaster’s office. He told me that the parents of a colleague asked the school to kick me out of school because I might endanger their daughter.
The Headmaster told me a meeting with those parents (and their daughter), my parents and several professors was scheduled to take place the next day.
There are two things I remember from that meeting: I and my colleague sitting in the corner looking stupefied. The second was a remark made by my Maths teacher and strongly supported by (her) parents and two other professors: Education is not for me because he has epilepsy.
My parents pulled out of school and home taught me. I took my A levels and moved on. I never went to college or studied for additional certificates. When I was 22, I moved back to India, first living with family, and started my business with money borrowed from my parents.
Since then, I started several businesses that failed, one that had success and I sold it. Right now, I manage the tech support team for a call center, after 7 years in the company. And I am still discriminated because I have epilepsy.
2 thoughts on “[Guest post #2] Education is not for people with epilepsy”
I have lived in the United States my entire life and also had my first seizure while in high school. I was made fun, but never had anyone tell me that school wasn’t for me. I had a tough time when my seizures were occurring more often and contemplated if I would ever make it through school due to missing class or the side effects that my medications caused, but through advocating for my health and finding the right medication I never gave up. I currently am a nurse and am still pursuing school to become a nurse practitioner and work in neurology to help others with epilepsy and be an inspiration (hopefully) to them. I’ve had numerous encounters throughout my life of people making fun of seizures some to my face, but most likely behind my back with me overhearing. However, I’ve heard a lot of the discrimination people face in the U.K and how bad the stigma is over there regarding epilepsy. I once talked to someone who moved from there to the U.S at a doctor’s appointment and was trying to help them and I mentioned seizures and they erupted in anger at me because despite the fact that I was helping them, seizures was not the proper term, they were to be called fits, and they weren’t sure they’re son had them. I was appalled by their behavior and I could tell their son was embarrassed and ashamed. It was awful. I can’t imagine what you have gone through, but don’t let people stop you from going after you dreams and don’t your epilepsy either. You’re epilepsy is just one small part of you and doesn’t define who you are. Push past and keep going in spite of them. I wish you the best of luck!
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When I spoke first with Advik about publishing his post on my blog, I was stupefied. I never knew that discrimination against people with epilepsy can go so far. Especially in the so called “developed countries”. Thinking back to my own experience, I never faced discrimination. I only got the “white gloves” treatment. I think this was because not many people knew until I went to university.
But the biggest discriminators are doctors, those specializing in more physical diseases/disorders.
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