From a very young age, I always knew I was so very different than everyone else. My diagnosis of Epilepsy did not come until the year of 2015. Looking back on my childhood, I have no doubt that my seizures started before elementary school. I always seemed to struggle on remembering life events. I would see pictures of me with friends only to have no recollection of any of those moments. Staying focused in school was a daily challenge. As I transitioned into high school, the seizures became much worse. Audible as well as visual hallucinations became a daily event. At the time, I thought I just had an overactive imagination; little did I know things were going to become much worse.

As I transitioned into adulthood, the seizures seemed to come and go. Routinely I would wake up with a bloody and sore tongue (I thought everyone went through this). Sore muscles, random cuts, and body bruises seemed normal. My friends would ask me how I would get so many bruises and cuts on me, and I would have no clue. Again…all of this seemed normal to me. It was the only life I knew. It wasn’t until I found myself sitting in the garage, with no recollection of who I was, what state I lived, or how to start my Jeep, did I realize something was seriously wrong. The episodes were getting worse. I would wake up feeling so very tired and hungover, even though I had not had any alcohol. Life no longer felt real – it was like I was living in some type of dream.

I found a brilliant Neurologist in San Jose who was able to diagnose what all the other doctors failed to do. The diagnosis was Epilepsy, complex partial seizures with nocturnal tonic-clonic. With the vEEG, my medical history confirmed I was Epileptic. I started on my AEDs and my life forever changed. ‘Fast forward to today. Since I have been diagnosed with Epilepsy, I have made it a personal goal to help others who have Neurological disorders. Over the past few months, I have become very active in the /r/epilepsy group on Reddit. This has been a great place for me to interact with other Epileptics around the world for support.

I recently completed the certification process through Pet Partners to have my service animal help patients in hospitals. Giving back to the community as well as helping others has helped me to manage my stress; this in turn lowers my chance of having a seizure.

Jon Balli
Adult living with epilepsy