Growing up in an isolated village on the Ohio-West Virginia border, life was simple for Ana-Sophia. One day, on a field trip in eighth grade, she dropped into her first seizure. Her “episode”, according to her doctor, was an anomaly and she continued her life as normal. Two years later, while taking a math test, she experienced another seizure and still received the diagnosis that “nothing was wrong”. It wasn’t until taking a pre-college course in New York, 500 miles away from home, after experiencing a frightening episode alone and in the shower, that she was diagnosed with epilepsy.
To add insult to her “incurable injury”, Ana-Sophia was prescribed Keppra, which is a life-saving treatment for many, but caused her to experience a drug-induced depression, taking her on a dark, downward spiral. After switching to a new medication, she began to feel a sense of hope but quickly realized her new normal – no driving, no late nights, no carbs, not even allowed to shower with telling someone. She longed for a community of others to answer my questions and give her support. Ana-Sophia knew there must be others outside of rural Ohio.
She found a fellow teenager impacted by epilepsy through her doctor, and the pair talked for hours about dealing with seizures. Unable to find others like her through online groups or websites for teenagers with epilepsy, Ana-Sophia decided to create her own online community and published an essay, “Living Well with Epilepsy.” She didn’t think it would have much impact but within days, she received a message from another teen who called her an inspiration.
Dreaming of stories to write about and her opportunity to help others, she ready to learn, with the the hope and confidence in others with seizures. Ana-Sophia plans to attend Asbury University in the hope of becoming a voice for teens and women who move forward in spite of physical setbacks.