I can’t quite articulate how I feel coming out of this past weekend’s Young Adult Epilepsy Summit in Washington, DC. To say that it was a life-changing experience might sound hyperbolic and clichéd, but it’s the absolute truth. (And if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’re probably aware that I’m not in the habit of making overly positive statements. Go realism!)
The nineteen young adults I met at the summit, all between the ages of twenty and twenty-nine, inspired me to look at epilepsy in a more constructive way, something I’ve been working on doing for a while. Instead of dwelling on epilepsy-related challenges, each has chosen to harness them to effect positive change, and their enthusiasm for and dedication to epilepsy advocacy issues were palpable at every conference session.
I’ll get into the particulars about the summit in future blog posts as the regional epilepsy project that we began planning starts to take shape. For now, I simply want to express how grateful I am to have taken part in this event. As much as it pains me to admit it, I sometimes get stuck in cycle of self-pity; it’s difficult not to, especially when I unhealthily focus on what I’ve “lost” since being diagnosed with epilepsy. The summit allowed me to instead reflect on what I’ve gained—above all, an appreciation for what I used to take for granted and, now, a new community and sense of purpose.
Thank you to the Epilepsy Foundation and to the North American Region International Bureau for Epilepsy for facilitating such a productive few days. I have no doubt that great things will result from them.