My Next 30 Years Living With Epilepsy

At the high school where I teach, students wear shirts that say, “You are stronger than you think.” Besides having epilepsy, I have dyslexia fueled by paranoia, so that the first few times I read the shirt, I thought it said,

You are STRANGER than you think.

As a person who has lived with epilepsy the last 30 years, I am probably a little stranger than I think I am. I do not always play by the same rules as everyone else, because I am unable to do so. The rules were not designed for people like me, so I have been forced to go my own way. In my effort to fit in, I have become strange. I am stranger than I think… but here is the joke. Everyone is a stranger. Everyone is different. It is as if we are, to paraphrase a Jack Johnson song “Stranger Together.”

The 2009 Camp Coelho Summer Camp for children with epilepsy occurred at Camp Wawona in Yosemite. (bryan farley)

When I had my first seizure 30 years ago, I was a high school student. I was traumatized. Five years ago, I wrote about the struggle on the 25 year anniversary when I began to accept living with epilepsy. I was also aware that I was beginning to experience a transition. I was beginning to feel grateful.

My Next 30 Years-3061

I have also become stronger. Besides the scars on my knuckles from fighting an invisible foe, I have become stronger from living daily with epilepsy medication. When I was sixteen, I took barbiturates two times a day. I have taken medication two times a day every day for 30 years. Those of us with epilepsy often discuss how we become stronger because we get up after we fall. I became stronger because I got up when I was medicated. I built stamina. How bout you?

 (bryan farley)

I have become a lucky old son these first 30 years of having epilepsy. I do not know what more I could have wanted. Tonight I spent the evening with my kids. Today I was listening to music and I realized that I have photographed many of the performers that I was hearing on my radio. Because I have experienced trauma, people trust me with secrets that they would not share with their therapists. I have some of the best friendships… people who have been with me for more than 30 years, people I trust with my secrets.

I wanted to say more, but I am tired. I want to go to sleep so that I can start “my next 30 years.”

I owe much to so many. Thank you to all my friends for keeping me alive and well.

2 Responses to “My Next 30 Years Living With Epilepsy”

  1. Alice J Pierson-Knapp says:

    Hi there,
    I so appreciate how you are living your life!
    love you

  2. bryan farley says:


    You are welcome. I have had a good life and I hope to continue appreciating my life. I spent the day with my students and kids. I told each of my six classes that it was the 30th anniversary and that I was grateful and fortunate to be their teacher. I also told my own children that it was a special day.

    I had been thinking that I would write a better post commemorating “the day” but I spent the time living it. I still wrote two other posts so I wrote more than it might appear. I also have more to say in the future. Who knows what I will say in the next few years? Much has changed recently.

    I love you,


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