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In our final week at the Mitchell Library, the group worked on the topic of relationships, and the effect epilepsy can have on these. Relationships include family and friends in addition to more intimate relationships.

This session touched on isolation and what you can do to connect more effectively with other people in a way which is positive and assertive.
Steven shares his thoughts below, and as you can see does so in his usual honest and positive way.

Today we touched on a subject matter which I have contemplated many times through my epilepsy journey and it is fair to say that I was feeling extremely anxious, frightened and distressed prior to the session, as relationships is an issue that has caused serious complications and dilemmas throughout my life.

Even though I know that I am doing great and am happy at present, I was scared that this weeks session would send me to that debilitating place once again, where old wounds would be opened.

I know that I am not alone in thinking that meeting new people or making new friends/relationships is exciting and cause anxiety and a feeling of nervousness.

I always have visualised myself as not being like your average Joe blogs in any city centre. I felt I was different, and this made me petrified.

How do I explain to new partners I have epilepsy? How are they going to react?

I was always honest and truthful regarding my condition to anyone I was lucky enough to have come into contact with.

However, many times honesty wasn’t the best policy, and I remember one occasion when someone learned about my epilepsy; suddenly I was in their car, travelling home with a awful atmosphere in the air.

This happened a number of years ago when I was 21, and I have never ever been able to forget about this situation, as it situation stripped me of my confidence, my self esteem and my trust in people.

This feeling has effected the way I discuss my epilepsy with new friends because for the fear of discrimination, disrespect and not being supported.

This session also made me reflect on the relationship I had with my mum because of my condition.I personally believe that she was frightened and felt helpless, because of  the amount of seizures I was having, the extent of the seizure injuries and the impact that it was having in my life, my mum become overprotective of me which created more harm than good.

I understand that  she was extremely anxious and afraid of myself going out alone as anything could occur at anytime, but this affected my confidence and the lack of socialising affected me to develop lack of social skills.

As my seizures become more frequently and more alarming, my mum announced that she couldn’t understand manage and cope with my seizures, she wasn’t sure what she was going to do, – it felt like I was being blamed for having epilepsy, and I felt unwanted and suicidal at this remark.

During the session I was distraught as those powerful and moving memories were are the for front of my mind, but I felt happy and positive as I have changed as a person thanks to the “Epilepsy and you” online course and Epilepsy Futures and knowing all my friends and everyone at Epilepsy Connections is by my side if I need to talk about anything.

However, I am fortunate to have established so many supportive and understanding friendships through Epilepsy Futures, who admire me for just being me. 

I am really happy to have been told about this programme, which has been life changing for me and I am so contented with the relationships I have made over the past year.

Steven Connelly