Yesterday I presented at a wonderful Epilepsy Action group in London, speaking about the BBC3 video, but also epilepsy in general. It was great to meet such a variety of people; professionals who worked at corporates through to those who were unable to currently work.
Dan (another volunteer) gave out tips re exercise (he is one ultra-fit chap!) – as one question was regarding overheating when exercising, which can, of course, lead to seizures in some people. It can though of course also raise one’s mood – which when you have epilepsy is a good thing!
There were many questions about employment rights and a bit of tension regarding discrimination that people had faced in the workplace. What was interesting was that we established that if people became confident about their condition and their rights, then it could lead to a company finding it simpler to support them.
Personally, I have almost always worked for corporates – partly because they tend to already have processes in place to help people with disabilities and also often aim to have a percentage of their workforce registered disabled. Indeed, if they discriminated against me they wouldn’t want that in the press either! However, it truly helped that I was confident from my mid-20s onwards to speak about my epilepsy; I would educate a team, let them know what to do should I have a seizure and make sure that they had processes in place to support me. This made a team confident in me and that they didn’t need to stress out.
Would you want to work for a company that was small-minded and discriminatory anyway? I sure wouldn’t.
Granted, not everyone finds it easy to talk about their epilepsy and that’s a big part of why I started my blog. Epilepsy is a bitch but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. If I come across people who are discriminatory, I shame them. If they are nervous about the condition or uneducated then I chat about it and answer all questions. I admire people for admitting their ignorance because that itself is something that some people find hard to do.
Ignorance leads to fear, which leads to discrimination. Even some people affected by epilepsy contribute to all of this by giving out incorrect information. We all have a responsibility to educate the public.