Over a decade later I discovered that my epilespy had effected an important friendship.
Over the weekend I was spending some time with my mum. We were having a nice chat, and I was talking about my blog, and we ended up discussing my epilepsy. I was enjoying our talk in a strange way, as my mum was revealing information and feelings about how my epilepsy had affected the whole family, and this is information that I don’t usually get from my mum.
As the conversation between us continued, we were discussing different situations where people in my life couldn’t adjust to the knowledge that I had epilepsy (Sadly this is common).
Then my mum dropped this bombshell…
This following conversation between my mum and I is about a childhood friend of mine (Sarah) and to briefly fill you in. She was my best friend. We went everywhere together, lived a few doors away from each other. The moment school was over we’d be at each other’s houses. All my family knew her as she was always around. When I was in my mid-teens she disappeared (as in stopped bothering with me) I was a little upset but at that age people did drift apart – that’s what I thought *naive*
This is how our conversation went:
Me: It’s disappointing when people can’t accept epilepsy. It’s happened so many times to me, I would like to do as much as I can to educate others so it doesn’t happen to other people.
Mum: Yeah, it was sad when I noticed that Sarah stopped bothering with you not long after you were diagnosed.
Mum: You didn’t notice?
Me: I noticed that she didn’t want to come over as much, but I thought it was due to us just drifting apart…naturally?
Mum: I saw that she became more and more distant after you were diagnosed with epilepsy, because you two were always so close. After that, it was never the same. I don’t know whether it was her or whether her parents suggested she kept her distance. But she just stopped being around you. I can only think she was scared if something happened.
I was quiet for quite a while and my mum finally broke the silence apologising and asking if she’d made me sad. To which I said no, but I guess I was. I asked my mum how did she’d noticed this and I didn’t. her reply, ‘ A Mum notices these things.’
It suddenly hit me, the thought that one of my closest friends could no longer want to see me because of the fact that I had epilepsy. I know my mum was only working on an assumption, but it did seem to add up, and it made me feel a little depressed. Even though we were only young teenagers at the time I thought I knew my best friend well enough to not only notice what my mum had, but I also thought she would be able to talk to me about anything.
When I thought back, she never asked me any questions so I never spoke to her about my epilepsy, I just assumed she’d accepted it.
Over the weekend I had some time to think about it, I thought that it was better that my mum highlighted this to me now rather than years ago. I think a few years back I may have been a lot more upset about hearing how Sarah didn’t want to be my friend anymore because I had epilepsy.
Unfortunately I have a feeling that this happens more commonly to people than I realise. From my first blog you’ll know that I want fewer people with epilepsy to feel judged and it seems as if it was happening to me even without me recognising it.
If you are reading this and you’ve been in a similar situation to me, where you had a close friend and they suddenly disappeared and you discover it was due to something you had no control over. Forget it. They are clearly not good friends for you, and not worth your time. If they were true friends they’d stick by you no matter what and support you, because that’s what friends do. We all know the words from the theme tune from Friends: ‘I’ll be there for you. Cause you’re there for me to!’ For me, at that time I had other friends who I found to be true friends and they’re still a part of my life today. The one friend was always happy for me to talk to her about anything that was on my mind and even offered to go to hospital appointments with me.
If you are reading this and you are in the situation my friend was. Perhaps you know someone with epilepsy or another type of condition or illness? The most important thing you can do is support them and be there for them. If you have questions, ask them. Most people who have conditions like epilepsy or diabetes will manage their health themselves, If they needed any help, they’ll ask, and if they need you to know anything just in case something happens, they’d tell you. But it’s guaranteed that if you just spend time with your friend it will make them feel better, and that’s the same for everyone.
Thanks for reading!