When I first joined the epilepsy community online, I noticed a few recurring questions in my support groups. Almost every week, someone would ask, “Do any of you work?” or “What is it like having a job?.” The responses to these questions varied; some expressed discouragement that they could not find a job after disclosing their epilepsy diagnosis. Others said they were happily employed and found a career.
I found this a bit concerning as I had just successfully filed for disability and started college as a part-time student. My mind went back and forth, wondering if anyone would hire me or if I would have to live on disability for the rest of my life. Once my semester started, I decided to look into some part-time jobs to help pay off my books. After disclosing my epilepsy in some interviews, the harsh reality set in: most employers do not want to hire people with epilepsy. I began to feel the same discouragement that those in my support groups spoke of and even shared my experiences. However, that was not the end of my hunt for a job. I knew that I am a creative, hard-working person who has potential.
Today, I can proudly say that I am an employee at Novela Neurotech, where I feel accepted, epilepsy or not. Although I work, that does not mean that my seizures have stopped. There will always be stressful situations with any job where I have to remind myself not to be too hard on myself.
In my experience working at Novela as a person living with epilepsy is that I have to be very mindful of my triggers. Too much screen time or even an extra cup of coffee can cause me to have a seizure. However, that does not mean that I stop putting in the effort I used to; I take some rest and get back to work. If a seizure interferes with my job, I make sure that my supervisor(s) are the first to know. At Novela, I have immersed myself in my job and learned so much from my colleagues and taught them little-known facts about epilepsy as well.
To those looking for a job while living with epilepsy: never give up. You never know what the future holds.