The passage of time is completely incomprehensible to me. It blows my mind how quickly it goes. Some days feel so long, but suddenly it’s been a month. Then six months. Then a year. And you look back, wondering how it could’ve possibly been that long, wishing for the time back.

But there’s something amazing about it. It’s a wonderful feeling to look back at certain times in our lives and reflect on our experiences. I often find myself caught up in nostalgia. Today is one of those days.

The one-year anniversary of my first seizure is today. It’s pretty bittersweet. Part of me is reflecting on what the experience was like that day. The shock that overcame me, the pain I felt, and the anxiety that my loved ones experienced. But I also am able to look back on the past year and reflect on how strong it has made me.

One year ago, I had no idea what was about to hit me. I was going about my morning, getting food in my college dining hall. I woke up and was completely blindsided by what had happened. I had almost no knowledge of what a seizure was, let alone that I would be diagnosed with epilepsy only a few days later. I had never experienced any serious medical problems. I had never been admitted to the hospital for any reason. I had never even broken a bone. It was the beginning of a long road that I certainly wasn’t expecting or even remotely prepared to deal with. The last 12 months have presented so many obstacles that I didn’t believe I had the strength to deal with. Yet, here I am, more stable, and more confident than ever. Every seizure, panic attack, and doctor’s appointment have forced me to push my limits and rise above the pain. The past year has been difficult, and I am proud of all that I’ve been able to accomplish despite what I was going through.

There have been so many times in the past year that I was unable to comprehend what was happening. At first, I was pretending like everything was fine. I tried to go back to my life as usual until it finally kicked in a few months later that my world was going to have to change. By the time I was beginning to accept that, I learned that I would have to undergo shoulder surgery, which was also completely foreign to me. The adjustments continued throughout the rest of the year, with more and more testing, personal challenges with a friend, and the general need to understand my new limitations. This took everything I had, and some days it was way more than I could handle. But getting through those days is what I’m the most proud of.

364 days ago, I was weaker than I am now. I was under the illusion that nothing bad would ever happen to me. I didn’t understand what it was like to have an illness. I didn’t even know what epilepsy really was, or what my life would be like if I was limited. I felt sorry for myself for trivial reasons that don’t compare to the challenges that were waiting for me. I was completely unaware of the things that I know now.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this disease has changed my life for the better, and if I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t change the fact that I was diagnosed. I wouldn’t change that it was hard. I wouldn’t trade the seizures for normal days, the panic attacks for calm, and the doctor’s appointments for beach days. I know it sounds ridiculous, but each and every day of this past year has made me stronger than I ever knew I could be.

I consider myself lucky that my epilepsy isn’t nearly as bad as others. I am grateful for the fact that not much about my life has changed. I am thankful that I know now that what I face can’t beat me. And while I know there are more challenges to come, I am confident that I will be able to beat them.

Whatever you are going through now, know that it will pass faster than you think. One day, you will look back to this day proudly, knowing you had the strength to beat it. To push on, despite what you are feeling, and accomplish the things you wanted to accomplish. To push beyond your limits.

A year can feel like a minute, even with our hardest days. Our life passes quickly. Enjoy today, even if you are fighting a battle. Look to the future and know that you will be better for the pain you are feeling.

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