Before starting at university I decided that I wanted it to be my priority. I wanted to focus on my studies and be less effected by side-effects. When my consultant wanted to try a new medicines we agreed that would be done over a holiday period to allow time for them to settle in and most of the side-effects to wear off before the next semester started. Now that I am out of university and I am working, we are trying medicines a little faster and I am also at a stage of looking to see if I am suitable for brain surgery.
Below are my top tips for going to university with epilepsy:
1. First of all, make sure the university know that you have epilepsy. When I filled out my DSA application it meant I had a meeting with one of the universities student advisors to work out a plan and so they could decide how they could support me better during my studies. This involved them talking to my lecturers. This made it a lot easier to apply for extenuating circumstances. Before a couple of deadlines I had some big seizures that meant I was exhausted and would not be able to submit my work in time. If the university don’t know you have epilepsy, these extenuating circumstance requests may be harder to approve.
2. I recommend telling your flat mates, I didn’t at first but when I had my first seizure in front of them it really scared them. If this backfires on you and your flat mates start bullying you, remember that universities have great student support systems and can help you find alternative accommodation, especially if you are staying in halls. Alongside this, if you are scared to tell your flat mates, talk to a residential assistant, or someone that helps run the halls as they will be willing to help host a meeting with you and your flat mates as that is their job. Tell them how you cope with the epilepsy too, whether you cope via humour, left alone etc.
"I recommend telling your flat mates, I didn’t at first but when I had my first seizure in front of them it really scared them"
3. Nights out are a big thing. If you know that your triggers don’t involve anything on a night out (tiredness, drinking, heat, etc.) there is nothing stopping you from going out but be sensible! If you want to drink on a night out check with your pharmacist and consultant if you are able to drink on your medicines. If you can drink, be sensible with how much. When I did drink, I would have my night dose earlier with food to allow them to settle in. However, it is now becoming a lot more common for people not to drink on a night out so don’t feel pressure to. If people do pressure you to drink, then I would suggest they are not the right people to be with, you are in control of you, not them.
4. Finally don’t be afraid to be true to yourself, if you are struggling and your medicines cause side-effects talk to the student support team at the university. My side-effects in my last term were quite bad leading me on to come off the medicine that was causing the side-effects. I improved over the summer and took an extra year to complete my dissertation, during that time I also got a job.
Share your story
If you have epilepsy get in touch to share your story.Get in touch