I've just received from family some newspaper cuttings referrring to a few people with epilepsy. Yes, there they are: the old cliches. Person X or Y is 'brave', or has 'battled with his/her condition for n years'.
I've heard these terms used of me too - and have rejected them outright. Why? Being 'brave' is when you do something special, something you didn't have to do and most people wouldn't do - and usually to help others in some way.
I'm not 'brave'. 'courageous', or anything else like that. I have a particular condition, like most other people reading this site. So what? I've only two choices live with it (or despite it) or lie down and die. It's as simple as that. I live with it. What's brave about that?
'Battle with it'? No, I don't. It's an occasional nuisance I have to put up with, then forget about it till the next time it happens, for it will. And in the meantime I just get on with things, like anyone else, regardless. I don't see why it should stop me.
It's possible some of what I've just said has annoyed some people. With children, it's a different matter, of course. But any adult just has to live with what nature puts in his/her way, bronchitis, arthritis, sinusitis or whatever else. There isn't any choice, is there?
Why do these words or phrases irritate me so much? Simple answer: it's victim talk. 'This poor sufferer' (children excepted, of course, from these comments). In my book, it's patronising. Possibly I'm wrong, possibly not. I don't think so. I'm just like anyone else, with a particular condition that people don't like to hear named, for some reason. I can do things that quite possibly they can't do. Well, what of it? Name a single person who doesn't have some condition or other. Yes, some are genuinely brave and have battles to fight. Most of us aren't and don't. We just get on with things, don't we? Just like anyone else - only that anyone else doesn't have a condition (s)he doesn't like the name of. They have a problem; I don't. It's the word, and the experience of epilepsy. I live with it, for I've no real choice apart from dying. And that I don't intend to do just yet. I've too much else to do first. Is that brave? No, it's just normal, isn't it?