What job could I do?

I was a Quantity Surveyor for about 8 years when during that 8 years, I developed Epilepsy at 26. For about 5 years the medication worked, then for the past five years I have been having complex partial seizures weekly until recently (past 6 months) when they are occurring once a month. I think it is anxiety and stress which triggers my seizures and I have been managing to keep myself more calm about my life and it seems to be working.

I just wish I had a good job but I don't know what sort of job I could go for - not having a driving licence and the minute epilepsy gets mentioned I think the interviewer/employer would put a big black cross against my name. For five years I have been working from home on my own little business but that has just been to keep me occupied really and I don't get out much with it. Most days the only person I speak to is the miserable man behind the counter at the Post Office! :-) I believe that if I get a good job the medication will start working fully again.

Anyone any ideas what sort of jobs are open to people with epilepsy? I know that's a big question but I've got no idea.

15 Replies

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  • Hi, I used to work for a Quantity Surveyor many years ago, typing out Bills of Quantities etc. so understand the work you were involved in. I understand your feeling about not driving and also how we get treated by recruitment agencies/employers for having epilepsy and basically not being given a chance to even attempt any type of job. Anxiety and stress are the main triggers for seizures but I am glad to hear they have settled down for the time being. Five years you have worked from home... what type of work are you doing at the moment, or what type of business are you running? This might give us some sort of guideline to find out more.

  • Hi lesmal, thanks for your answer. I basically sell batteries and chargers and a few other electrical things on ebay, Amazon and my website (batteryvault co uk just in case you were wanting to have a look). There's a lot more competition come about in the past few years since the recession has taken hold and people have lost jobs, so profits etc are rock bottom compared to when I started doing it 5 years ago.

  • Thank you for further details. Will visit your website and have a further look. Are you an electrician by trade also? I am unemployed and have been hunting here in South Africa for many months. Again, recession has taken a toll on most industries. Feel free to communicate further on email should you wish: lesmal@vodamail.co.za

  • Hi,

    I am sorry to read of the seizure increase that has occurred. Is difficult enough adjusting initially but harder when things are in a state of flux. I am also a bit concerned however to read the anxiety that is clearly felt by you regarding work. Stress is a huge factor for most of us with Epilepsy. Whether its related to how you will be one day to the next or not knowing when the next seizure will occur. It can be very restrictive and force you to self limit your activities, which naturally ends to anxiousness and stress. Your expectations about work are not unreasonable. Managing your stress levels and earning your personal triggers are essential. I do hope however that with the increase of seizure frequency further testing and monitoring is occurring. You first need to know your limits and that you have the best control possible for you. If that's a seizure a month then that's swat you work with. Hopefully that will change. The medication dose and seizure management must come first. I was working as a factory cleaner and window cleaner when I had my first seizure. No control and no job to keep. Be positive, though very hard at times. If an employer sees you have a grasp on your condition they can help you manage it at work. If you don't rip then they can't plan and make certain allowances to assist. But it still starts with the medications and taking control of it. As I said, I hope your neurologist or GP is reviewing your current concerns. But when it comes to it someone with Epilepsy can do a high percentage of jobs. It's all about finding what suits you as a person and what can fall in to place with the Epilepsy. Safe to say police, fire etc are off limits from a front line point of view but with controlled events you would be surprised. How about taking your experiences and become a vocation counsellor or recruitment agent yourself. Be positive for you and you can get there. I have been very happily employed in the same job for 4 years. I have seizures some times, Short term memory problems and occasional concentration issues. But I still give 100% to what I do and I get support and understanding back. Good luck and try learning a musical instrument, most relaxing for me. GM

  • Hmm funny I have epilepsy and just graduated a police academy

  • hmm funny I graduated about the same time you did from massage school while having seizures in school and i cant even use my degree to my advantage. Not EVERYONE with epilepsy can do everything it holds a lot of people down like me for instance. I have had several just in the past month. I almost lost my life driving because I had no choice but to drive to move on with life but of course now I dont and now I'm stuck working from home not making anything worth living off of! Life is not the same for everyone with Epilepsy everyone's seizures are different! Everyone needs to realize that when they give advice.

  • Hi... if you were a quantity surveyor there will be many jobs out there and it's a great time to perhaps consider an entirely different direction; one that is 'people orientated' to curb the isolation but perhaps something you are in control of rather than working for someone. Retraining would be a great way of rebuilding confidence and opening up possibilities. Like 'Ghostmemory' my immediate thought was something where you offer a service and there is obviously a gap in the epilepsy recruitment sector and you could perhaps look into work along side one of the big epilepsy charities with this. forming a bridge between the epilepsy community and the work place. Another suggestion is to took into something along the lines of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) which, while helping you in your personal management of living with a life long condition, stress management etc, could also lead to gaining a qualification so that you in turn could start out a small business helping others, with hours to suit. The third suggestion (which could be combined with the other two) is to consider being self employed in virtually any field but taking on an 'apprentice' from the outset as this would provide cover for you if your epileptic activity took hold, and would provide companionship too. As part of their employment with you they could take a first aid course which covers dealing with epilepsy. I hope all the replies you receive get you thinking positively about your situation.... Good luck.

  • It took me twelve and a half years after leaving school to find my first job, because Joe Public didn't know much about epilepsy, and didn't want to know either! Joe used to think everyone who had epilepsy suffered from Grand Mal and nothing but. Even the Job Centres were getting a bit suspicious about me the longer time passed. However, I always aimed for clerical work, as I felt the office was the safest environment. Back in the '90s I held a Messenger post for a few years, but I never used to like taking paperwork into the factory, as though by then I had underwent neurosugery, I still didn't feel happy in a machinery environment. I have held my present office job for over twelve years.

  • Thanks for your answers guys, Talbot - I think people are still like that, the way they treat people with epilepsy but are getting a lot better slowly over time as awareness is being made of it all and the different seizures etc through the charities and people.

    Chimbelina - You have certainly given me some things to think about there, thank you for your help.

    Something else I've got to make a firm decision about is surgery (which might alter my master plan). The Neurologist has been persuading me to have surgery for a year or two. But that's not because they've spotted something, because it's the last option really after trying a number of AEDs. I have Frontal Lobe Epilepsy and the success rate is 50% which is pretty low as it is, but I have been reading articles in recent weeks which says it is best to have the surgery (especially Frontal) within 5 years, leave it after 12 years and the success rate drops to 35%!! Too low!! I think I would rather try and sort myself out like I am doing with the anxiety, find a job and wait for a cure. There seems to be a lot of research going on in the area these days and maybe soon there will be a cure on it's way in a few years. I would rather not risk brain surgery with such low percentage success that could do long term damage.

    I go and see the Neuro in two weeks and at the moment with the seizure rate lessening to once a month rather than once a week I'm 80/20 against having surgery, trouble is I will probably change my mind about a dozen times in the 2 weeks!!

  • Dear horsy24,

    I developed epilepsy a few years after a frontal lobe operation, lobotomy, for depression in 1972. Success rates were never mentioned ! However, my operation I consider was successful in curing depression. The operation was personality changing. Tegretol means seizures have stopped but it does slow you down. On the plus side I've worked for 30 years, always driven with DVLA consent & in retirement am glad of the lobotomy. Do not know if such procedures are current or if so any easier.

    Good luck horsy24. It's all very grave.

    isherwoodjon

  • One possibility that occurs to me, as you like being with people, is training. Training other Quantity Surveyors as part of a small team might suit you.

    Good luck

  • Hi Horsy24, thank you for the email... well received... Will respond soon. Keep positive and keep happy!

  • Hello Horsy24,

    When I read your post I wondered how many of us identified with some of the issues you raise?

    One thing that comes to my mind is how isolated you seem to be in comparison to when you were working.

    It is so important to create a social network so you don’t get depressed, have a purpose for your day, and importantly retain your confidence and communication skills by chatting with folk. Join an adult education class / learn a new skill. Join a gym or a walking / ramblers group etc...

    If it doesn't exist then create it yourself - you might be surprised how many folk turn up!!

    Good luck and I do hope you will soon have more people to talk to than the 'miserable man behind the post office counter'. Who knows he couldeven turn up to your group Iif he's that fed up himself!!

    All the best,

    Jazzz

  • Hi Jazzz

    Thanks for your reply. I think you are absolutely right, however I get very anxious, nervous and stressed around too many people I don't know/don't know very well and this leads to seizures. I have tried art classes and thai boxing (different ends of the scale!) and both ended in a number of seizures! I always get the feeling that people are watching me/looking at me/talking about me and it ends in the inevitable. Even just walking down the street I always feel that people I used to know are driving past looking at me and talking about the guy they used to know with epilepsy! Just a touch of paranoia as well!!

    I don't know whether getting a job would help because the settling in period would be long and difficult.

    Anyway, I've got appointments with a psychologist to try a help with all that and the neurologist has put me on an additional AED - Clobazam, which is supposed to hep with seizures and anxiety, so hopefully things will change

    horsy24

  • I couldn't tell you where to work, but I can say I am in the same position and I understand. I graduated college and can't even use my degree to my advantage. I started at 16 with Epilepsy and I'm 25 it has never stopped. I have Partial complex and when they start they fall into Grand Mal seizures. I used to drive and almost died. I no longer do so I get being stuck. No one will hire me so I work out of home to but don't make the money to survive. So an answer for an Epileptic with these problems is a struggle but do remember there is always a way it's just finding it. Right now home looks like the best option until the seizures are under control. With no insurance it's no help.

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