A woman celebrating

#ExcelWithEpilepsy – Living a successful life

Our Helpline and Information Officer Uschi Stickroth muses on life, success, and what this actually means.

Throughout our childhood we are constantly being conditioned to make something of our lives, to be successful.

So, we grow up, wanting to please our parents or teachers, and we often take this strong sense of needing to please and achieve into our adulthood.

Many of us have our lives mapped out at some point. We know what we want, a career, our own place, family, children, travelling around the world, enough money to live comfortably perhaps?

These dreams, aspirations, and ambitions are of course important. They make us get up and do something about it.

But when we are completely fixated on our future, our future path, and our future career, we leave very little room for flexibility and for the potential or for the need to change course.


Epilepsy can be a life-changing diagnosis

Change certainly happens when we face a life-changing diagnosis such as epilepsy.

Epilepsy of course can be controlled by medication in many cases, and for those people, life can pretty much carry on as normal after a while.

But for those who continue to have seizures, life suddenly looks very different.

A long-term health condition or disability can make us feel like we’ve lost control over our life, our future, and our ambitions.

It takes time to work through all of these powerful emotions, let go of what you had planned for your future and accept what is now.

I’ve been fascinated my whole life by people talking about success. What actually does it mean to be successful?


What is success?

For me, success is a lot more subtle than a career, becoming famous, a good income, luxury items, and a comfortable life.

For some, success means having enough money to heat their home and feed their family.

For someone with uncontrolled seizures, success could be a seizure-free day or a seizure-free week.

For others, a success milestone could be getting their driving licence back.

Success has nothing to do with the job you do. Being a parent, volunteering your time, and managing to get out of bed despite health struggles, that’s success!

So, when we talk about being successful despite epilepsy during National Epilepsy Week, I hope you realise just how amazing you are.

Your epilepsy may have sent you on a different course than you had planned for yourself, but to get there you had to show incredible flexibility to adapt, possibly reinvent yourself, and accept your limitations.

This is anything but failure. This is my definition of success.