April Jenkins found out she had epilepsy five years ago at age 25. She had just graduated college and was prepared to tackle the real world head on. She decided since she was already in a transitional period of her life—if she was going to have to learn to live with epilepsy, it was as good of a time as any.
At the time she had just moved back to Alexandria, LA to live with her parents while she looked for a full-time job. “I was spending most of the day hunched over the kitchen table applying for jobs and my mom noticed, on more than one occasion during the first few weeks home, that I would stop answering her questions and stare into space for about a minute.”
When April would snap back, she would feel odd but didn’t think too much of it. She says there are a few instances like that, where she would just go blank and be unaware that time had passed. Even sometimes forgetting she’d done tasks she didn’t know she did.
After witnessing her act strangely in her sleep, April’s mother encouraged her get checked out by her family doctor, who sent her for an EEG. April soon learned she was having what are called complex partial seizures.
“When he said it was epilepsy, I was shocked,” admits April, “I thought people with epilepsy fell to the floor and had convulsions. Like most people, I didn’t know that there were other forms…which unfortunately came later.”
Despite looking for a job while not being allowed to drive after a tonic-clonic seizure, April was determined to adapt to life with epilepsy. April says she applied to what feels like hundreds of jobs, but because of her epilepsy and lack of work experience, employers were hesitant to hire her. “I kept getting complimented on my attitude and enthusiasm, yet there were no offers coming in. I was persistent though, and eventually convinced someone to take the chance on me!”
She overcame the obstacles and found a part-time job as a graphic designer that allowed her to work from home when she needed. She also learned how to predict the patterns when her seizures were most likely to appear and how to best take care of herself. After three years, with medication and making her health and wellness a priority, she is now two years seizure free!
She is celebrating her two year mark with a promotion and move to Little Rock where she will continue working as a graphic designer. April is excited to join our efforts to raise awareness and decrease the stigma associated with epilepsy by sharing her story. She has realized that the more she talks about her epilepsy, the more she is able to correct lingering misunderstandings amongst others.