Updated: Nov 6
Ever since I mustered the courage to express my insecurities with my friends, my relationships have never been the same. They have improved.
I was almost certain that my best friends, specifically my male friends, would never be as understanding or patient as they were when I first broached my psychological journey. I never mentioned the individual therapy I sought from my neuropsychiatrist or my motivation to begin. I never felt comfortable disclosing something that still remains a controversial and touchy subject because their response to my epilepsy had been less than positive. Ignorant jokes, lack of empathy for my inabilities, and general insensitivity were rife. No one could understand why I didn't drink at parties, why it was so hard for me to get my driver's license or why I wouldn't sleep over at their houses. To tell the truth, I didn't completely understand or accept my situation; how could I conceive of confidently explaining it to others?
As it turns out, my epilepsy (which was diagnosed at the age of four) is triggered by far more than sleep deprivation and generic stress. For years, I besought my doctors to consider alternative culprits for my seizures but I was encouraged to stay the course by taking my medication and hitting the sack at a reasonably consistent hour. Despite my best efforts to stay well-rested and not deviate from my cycle, intense episodes would still occur and there seemed to be no answer.
After a lot of persistence and argument, I was given a referral to my neuropsychiatrist. I was ecstatic. I knew the road ahead was going to be grueling and unpredictable but ultimately give me the clarity I needed to live a more fulfilling life. I was offered an opportunity to attend a weekly group therapy project that would last six months and absorb almost all of my energy. I began to learn about my biases, unresolved traumas with family members, and how my social dynamics were the consequences of years of projection and diffidence. I told my two closest friends about my co-dependent tendencies, my subconscious belief in my own brain's defectiveness, and consequently, how I would always assume judgment on their part because of an inferiority complex. Much to my surprise, they both listened to my story attentively.
Now, we frequently share personal things with one another, trusting that we won't betray or insult the other's confidence. Had I not chosen to pursue that program and implement the socio-psychological tools that I acquired, I don't think I would have the quality friendships or stable epilepsy that I do today. Ironically, it took me accepting my fallibility and vulnerability to allow my friends to do the same. I've never been more convinced of the link between neurological disorders and social health.
Adrian is a writer and editor with a passion for language, philosophy and psychology. He is returning to academia to pursue a career in neuropsychology, investigating the relationship between stress, anxiety, and the provocation of various neurological disorders. His professional contributions include personal essays for the online publication “The Mindful Word" and editorial work for LetsStopAIDS.