My name is Mario, I am 63- years-old, married with two children. I was 12 when I had my first seizure while I was sleeping. After the second seizure I was taken to a psychiatrist since, at that time, there were no neurologists in Malta and people with epilepsy were referred to a psychiatrist.
I was diagnosed with complex partial epilepsy and was given an extensive regime of medications which, in turn, had a negative effect on me especially since they made me lethargic and unfocused. During my adolescence I became quite introvert since I thought my condition was rare and, at that time, it was kept as a family secret. I felt quite lonely and I was also afraid to open up to people. I had very few friends although the few I had were genuine.
At school I couldn’t concentrate well and this reflected on my academic progress. However I finished secondary level examinations. During this time I did not experience any negative experiences apart from the fact
that I had become a loner.
An experience which greatly affected me was when, after having a seizure, I was thrown out of a youth club, of which I had been a member for many years and which was run by the Salesian Brothers. I insisted on having a valid
reason for such an action, however none was given but I was forbidden to enter the club again.
Finding Work as a Person with Epilepsy
I was lucky to find work quite quickly although this came about because close relatives vouched for my sense of responsibility. However, years later, when I became redundant, I found it quite difficult to find work when I mentioned my epilepsy during interviews. It reached a point where I decideed to withhold this information and to prove myself before ‘revealing’ my condition. Then, soon after, I got a job! I must say that I did not encounter discrimination at my place of work and my work mates were always very co-operative.
Epilepsy has not really affected my life in general except for the fact that I cannot drive. I try to lead as normal a life as possible and I do not think that I have missed out on anything that I needed or wished to do. However I would like to mention that a most important influence in my life was the very good support system of
family and friends to whom I owe a heartfelt thank you.