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1 in 26 people are diagnosed with epilepsy in the United States. I just so happen to be one of them. Living with an invisible disability isn't easy. People don’t understand the hardships you go through internally because they can’t physically see them. In my case I've gained memory loss, slow speech, tiredness, and more. Sometimes when I’m having a conversation with people I can’t remember what a word is and people assume I'm tired. I take a lot of naps, so some people assume that I'm lazy. If I can’t recall an event, some people assume that it wasn’t important enough for me to remember. These are the people who don’t take into account that everyone is going through something that they don’t know about. Sometimes I explain my situation and I get the inevitable, “OMG, you have epilepsy? You don’t look like you have epilepsy.” What is epilepsy supposed to look like?

epilepsy awarness ribbon

These unfortunate events don’t only occur with epilepsy though. Invisible disabilities affect so many different people in different ways. I have a friend with ADHD and people don’t understand why she always has so much energy. I know someone with autism and people think he's antisocial. I also know someone with bipolar disorder and people judge his actions. One of the problems with invisible disabilities is the medication provided to us changes our personality. I know so many people who simply don’t take it because it makes them feel terrible and changes their mood. When I was in seventh grade I stopped taking my medication without anyone knowing, and started having a lot of seizures. I didn’t stop taking it because I wanted to have seizures, I did it so that I could be “normal.”

Over the years I’ve realized that every person on this earth is going through something internally that we'll never know about. I read somewhere that you can hide anything under a smile, and I think this is such an accurate statement. As Ellen DeGeneres would say, “be kind to one another.” This will get you further in life than you think.

Image via Giphy 

For more information on epilepsy, you can go to endepilepsy.org.

Aryn Jackson is a third year student at the University of California Santa Barbara. She is majoring in communication. She has specific interests in media, public relations, and traveling.
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