My Life Challenges Inspires Me

My Life Challenges Inspires Me by Sophia S.

My main sources of inspiration come from the troubles and hardships that plague my day-to-day life; my neurological disorder, Epilepsy. I would spend the day fading in and out of an altered state of mind in which I am unable to speak, understand language, understand my own thoughts, or use proper motor skills, as well as the backlash of recovering (which includes the higher possibility of more seizures, nausea, fatigue, headaches, and a severe drop in mood). Not only do these symptoms cause me extreme discomfort and an inability to function normally during and after I have had them, but they also limit me in the long run, such as the inability to drive or stay in areas with my particular audio triggers. I am not even allowed to have my own thoughts as a safe environment from these electrical misfirings, as I happen to be both audio and thought sensitive.

My seizures were the absolute worst and most spiteful portion of my senior year of high school, as the school bell for the new year would cause me to have one every time I heard it. This played over the loudspeakers throughout the school 8 times a day, and I worked arduously to shield myself from these noises while simultaneously trying to ask for a change (which did not occur until the last month of the school year).

Though these conditions did hinder my ability to do certain things, I counted my blessings and thank medical technology for allowing me to (mostly) control my own brain through medication. I had many people standing behind me though my own personal battles. My friends and family were not the only ones there to support me, but another group was also heavily involved; my high school art teachers. Art is my lifeline, a way to keep me happy during the hardships associated with everyday life as well as my own disability. To have these people with me on a day to day basis, fully understanding me was a whole new level of uplifting. I worked to the best of my ability and decided to take my neurons by their dendrites and face them head-on in my senior year with my AP Studio Art concentration: My own altered states and the effects of epilepsy on my life. As I opened my doors to new mediums which I would soon find appreciation for, I reclaimed a topic of art containing many unexplored concepts that I at one point would view as too precarious to explore. My own experiences with the pains of a seizure were ones that I did not remember fondly, nor did I want to remember at all. The creation of art associated with my disability was excruciating at first. Looking back onto the feelings associated with my epilepsy and their actual symptoms was a journey in and of itself. I spent hours reviewing my own experiences during my production of these works of art, and in doing so found that I could educate others on epilepsy in the process.

People would often ask of my seizures upon hearing that my concentration was reviewing and illustrating their impact, and many assumed that all experiences with epilepsy included tonic-clonic (or grand mal) seizures. This however, was simply not the case. In my entire life, I have only had two tonic-clonic seizures. In my explanation of what kind of seizures I had on a regular basis, absence seizures (or petit mal), I worked to inform people on the signs that this sort of seizure was in fact occurring. I felt very happy that questions were even being asked on the matter, as many times if I was without a friend or family member my own seizures would be overlooked completely, leaving me horrified during the episodes.

I was, for the first time, happy to have the brain I was born with. I was able to not only enjoy the creation of original art based on my experiences, but inform those who surrounded me. Art is my lifeline, a way to keep me happy during the hardships associated with everyday life as well as my own disability. To be able to take from said hardships and add to my own true happiness and success was the most liberating feeling of independence. With my educators’ encouragement, support, and friendship, I was able to gain the highest score possible on the AP Studio Art final submission. Being able to actually enjoy anything in relation to my epilepsy was almost unimaginable up until this point.

I want to use my own personal knowledge and experience to connect with and inspire students on a deeper level. I don’t want to be an average teacher, one who is only there for the purpose of grading and general education. I want to be the one who helps those in tough times, teaching them to express themselves and come to terms with their own situations through visual arts, Just as my own art teachers in high school were able to do for me. To make this impact on students would be one of the highest forms of success I could work for. I want to help ensure self-gratification for overcoming one’s own tragedies and disadvantages in life through the use of art. Connecting more deeply with others through the link of their own troubles and opening up to yourself and others about your own life experiences is one of the most direct ways to soften negatives and enhance the flow of dialogue regarding said troubles. I want to push people further, and allow them to own themselves, rather than allowing for their own hardships to own them. We are our own people, and we deserve the best life we can give ourselves.

I no longer see myself as a disabled and disadvantaged person, but as a person who is able to live with and overcome said disadvantages and make my life what I want it to be. Epilepsy does not control me, I control myself.

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