Of absences and ignorance

I’m currently feeling quite positive about things: Lyn and I are both well, I have a couple of films to work on, and things seem quite cheerful in general. I think one contributing factor to this is that my absences seem to be behaving themselves – I’ve hardly had any in about two months. You know, I was reflecting recently on the benefit of knowing what they are: for much of my life I thought I was imagining these spells somehow. My parents say they told me, but I couldn’t remember; it wasn’t until the events of a couple of years ago, after Lyn noticed them and asked to check them out, that it was firmly established in my brain that they were a form of epilepsy. Mum and dad had always called them absences, so, looking back, if I had googled the term I’d have saved myself a lot of fretting. Anyway, once I knew what they are, my relationship with them changed: I wasn’t being silly I wasn’t imagining them, and I didn’t have to hide them.In a way it feels good to know I can ask people about them, and that others have them too. Hell, there were even facebook groups I could join. Once I looked it up, moreover, I recognised many of the things I felt in the descriptions; I was at last able to put a name to the odd, usually upsetting sensation of not being able to remember the layout of the area around me: Jamais vu. I found it reassuring, and that reassurance helped with the fear, as did knowing that I couldn’t help them. They still make me feel a bit down, of course, but that, at least I now know, is part of their inherent neurological effect, and cannot be helped.

It’s strange but in a way knowing I have a form of epilepsy makes me happy. Instead of fretting that I somehow imagine my absences, I now have something to google and explore. And I think that principle applies elsewhere too: if you can name something, if you know something is real, definite and can be explored, the fear of it goes away. That’s why I now think that I won’t hide any future problems or dilemmas I might have, but engage with them, and ask others about them, whatever the issue. I think I’ll advise others to do the same – the folly lies in allowing one’s ignorance to continue. I think that is a valuable, positive lesson.

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