Epilepsy can mean a lot of things, but mostly it means that you have seizures. Unprovoked seizures, due to abnormal electric activity in the brain. It means that you probably have a stockpile of pills and band-aids in the bathroom. Epileptic, too, means a lot of things. Epileptics are comatose, they’re celebrities, they’re office workers, they’re teachers, they’re students, they’re dead. They’re people, with a dangerous variation. I am one of them.
I’m still a little embarrassed when people find out I have depression.
Find out. As if I’m a felon who’s committed robbery or murder. I haven’t, yet the stigma of mental illness commands almost the same level of secrecy. It’s the elephant in the room. It’s paisley and dancing Gangnam style and you’re desperate to glance, but no one is saying anything about it.
People are avoidant, seeming to experience secondhand self-consciousness about this thing they don’t understand or understand all too well. If they’ve experienced mental illness themselves, they know the battery of the self. The black hole and cyclone going on in your own mind that can render you incapable of living. Or, if they’ve lived with someone who has mental illness, they’ve experienced the battery of others. The grip is tight.
It’s embarrassing to admit your brain can act without you. You can’t control it.