Epilepsy Talk

Damaged Goods | September 21, 2019

There’s something liberating in being expected to fail. No expectations, no explanations.

After all, “you’ll never amount to anything.” You’re damaged goods.

So you’re free to fall on your face. Or reach for the stars. I did both.

When I didn’t make friends, it was expected. “Who would want to hang out with you?”

I flunked out of Science and French. No big deal.

I was awarded first place in a writing competition. And I had to read my essay in front of the governor! Everyone was stunned.

Boys headed for the hills after just one date. “Well, what did you expect?”

I jumped off the roof at college. “Poor thing. You’re a sick girl.”

Then I graduated from college Magna Cum Laude. They couldn’t believe it. (And did not attend my graduation.)

I got the job of my dreams. Promotions came easily. My parents didn’t know what to say.

I became a successful writer and ultimately started my own freelance business which I did for over 35+ years. (Until I started Epilepsy Talk). They still couldn’t believe it.

I met the man of my dreams. My father almost had a stroke. “There must be something wrong with him. Why would he choose a girl like you.”

I’ve been married for almost 40 years. And I’ve had a very full, successful and happy life.

Damaged or not.

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47 Comments »

  1. Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Liz Caldwell — September 21, 2019 @ 9:56 PM

  2. I can’t believe your parents weren’t more supportive. Times have changed. My daughter has epilepsy and she is the most intelligent person I know. I am not sure if there is a man that is good enough for her. I tell her that her husband will be a very lucky man.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Trish Landrum — September 21, 2019 @ 10:35 PM

  3. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THIS AMAZING.😆 INSPIRATIONAL EPILEPSY TALK.IT MAKES ME KNOW WE AREN’T DAMAGED GOODS.GOD BLESS YOU.😇💟💞💌

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Angela carter — September 21, 2019 @ 10:58 PM

  4. I absolutely love this column. I’m hoping that many people will read it since I did repost it. Friends who have been recently diagnosed with other chronic conditions are finding out about people’s various reactions, so perhaps the story of my favorite blogger will encourage them. Thank you, Phylis! You’re an ace with me!

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by catsissie — September 21, 2019 @ 11:03 PM

  5. I love this and can relate. We are not damaged goods. We are different goods! At least I am, anyway.

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by Marlyn — September 21, 2019 @ 11:40 PM

  6. Phylis, you are the very opposite of damaged goods and I cannot imagine why anyone would think otherwise. We all have limitations but that is not the same as being damaged. Your contribution to society through Epilepsy Talk makes you a star in my eyes… and I am not easily impressed!

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by Michael H — September 22, 2019 @ 12:48 AM

  7. Even though there’s NO justified reason, Epilepsy has been challenging ordeal for human race to cope with the unknown mystery behind the neurological disorder, since Biblical times.
    Therefore, coming from uninformed society afraid of facing, accepting, embracing & living with medical hardships, it would NOT be surprising to see society having hard times, recognizing the potentials & achievements of Epilepsy patients.
    Basically, less expectations make for lesser disappointment, enabling society to deal with the mistry behind Epilepsy.
    Therefore, the struggle of Epilepsy patients to prove themselves & their worthiness in society becomes another struggle & social ordeal for Epilepsy patients to challenge the barriers of society.
    Empowering Epilepsy patients to cope with social barriers & stigma will certainly help to educate society & overcome all odds.
    Gerrie

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by BahreNegash Eritrea — September 22, 2019 @ 1:58 AM

  8. Good on you,(as we say over this side of the “pond”) Phyllis. That took some strength of character to achieve that. I take my hat off to you.

    The best I can say is that I make sure I am never “embarrassed” to say quite clearly that I have epilepsy! I say it as if it was a completely every day fact of life and it is amazing how many people are interested to know more about it rather than be “frightened by it.

    Margaret Hay

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Margaret Hay — September 22, 2019 @ 4:10 AM

  9. PS – I’ve been very quiet on th eforum for quite a while now becasue things were a bit muddled up and “ropey” for a while – seem to be on the up at last.

    Margaret

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Margaret Hay — September 22, 2019 @ 4:12 AM

  10. Dear Ms. Johnson,
    I just wanted to let you know how instrumental your informative articles have been in how best to advocate for my daughter’s healthcare.

    I have been insulted, looked over, and put off over the years by numerous physicians. My determination has prevailed. It is essential to advocate for yourself or family member.

    I applaud you on your achievements, and wish you continued success in your endeavors.
    I am filled with hope, and that my daughter will achieve and fulfill her future dreams and goals.
    Thank you for sharing your story.
    Sincerely, Grace

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by GRACE — September 22, 2019 @ 10:20 AM

  11. Hi again Phyllis – I wanted to add that i guess I am “lucky” in that I didn’t develop epilepsy until I was in my late 50s so I never had to deal with the cruelty of “other people” as I was growing up – that waited until I was old and wrinkly!!!! I also think that nowadays, the general public is better informed and more open to listening to problems than they were in the past. That doesn’t mean it isn’t still difficult by any means but I have had an easier era in which I have had to deal with it.
    Margaret

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Margaret Hay — September 22, 2019 @ 12:55 PM

    • I couldn’t admit my “dirty little secret” until I was older and more comfortable in my skin.

      Things got a little better then.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 22, 2019 @ 3:48 PM

  12. Thanks Phylis for the interesting article on damaged-goods! It really describes how people treat you? But I consider that if you have struggled with uncontrolled seizures for a while then both you and your family and friends must have “strength” to overcome this problem. Not just ignore it totally?! Keri (Many people are scared to witness a seizure: What to do??)

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Keri Teavae — September 23, 2019 @ 1:00 AM

  13. Phyllis, You are relating to so many, including myself. I hold many stories that have similar aspects. My life is broken in decades:
    D1 “What do we do about his situation? Don’t let him do that. It’s too dangerous. You’ll get hurt.”
    D2 Seizures and Failures.
    D3 Starting over and discovery “don’t be a dreamer”. D4 Marriage/4kids.
    D5 Divorce “He’s done”. Redefining myself.
    D6 Successfully impacting the world. 😀😀😀

    Thank you for sharing, Phylis!

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Daniel Vincent — September 23, 2019 @ 10:29 AM

  14. Oh Daniel, you’ve described it so well and poignantly.

    Everybody goes through painful periods, but yours sound especially difficult.

    But you had the courage and perseverance to pick yourself up and turn your travails into positives.

    Hats off to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 23, 2019 @ 11:19 AM

    • Thank you, Phylis! Hats off to both of us (and so many more). 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Daniel Vincent — September 24, 2019 @ 8:51 PM

  15. Wow. I have trouble imagining parents being so un-supportive. If anything, my folks took it to the opposite extreme. So, you have epilepsy. That’s just an inconvenience, like having a cold. You’ll get over it and be just fine. We’re sure you’ll do great things.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Paleobird — September 23, 2019 @ 2:45 PM

  16. And look at you — living proof that you can and you did.

    You’re a poster girl for success!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 23, 2019 @ 2:49 PM

  17. Shame on your parents for treating you like “damaged goods”. Nobody deserves that. I encountered similar things growing up and have been dealing with CPTSD as well as my various physical problems my whole life. Shame on their indifference, denial and ignorance. But guess what, shame on many professionals, as well, who should have known better. It’s why I became a social worker. Thank goodness for a handful of loving relationships, good friends, few doctors and wonderful blogs like yours, Phylis.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by skolly9 — September 23, 2019 @ 3:01 PM

    • Well, this is really a head spinner Skolly.

      My step-father was a SURGEON and my step-mother was a PSYCHOLOGIST.

      So much for the medical profession in my fractured family.

      Like

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 23, 2019 @ 4:53 PM

  18. Just because someone is brilliant at their chosen professions, doesn’t necessarily mean they are compassionate, empathetic people. One would think people who are a Doctor or Psychologist would be more attuned to people’s psychological as well as physical needs.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by skolly9 — September 23, 2019 @ 6:30 PM

  19. Compassionate and/or empathetic they were not. More than anybody else, they treated me like “damaged goods”.

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 23, 2019 @ 7:28 PM

  20. This made me sad.
    I am glad you have risen above the lowness of others.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Flower Roberts — September 23, 2019 @ 8:46 PM

  21. Thank you Flower. I certainly fell on my face a lot, while I was grabbing for those stars! 🙂

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 23, 2019 @ 9:05 PM

  22. I always enjoy your posts. Thank you for the helpful information, along with your humor!!

    How do you address questions from people you know (especially family) who feel the need to always ask the same question, “Are you still having seizures,” after they’ve been told you are doing well? Might I add the question is also often asked in front of people whom you’ve never met before in your life!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Elizabeth Niedringhaus — September 26, 2019 @ 2:49 AM

    • LOL! My father used to always ask that. In the matter-of-fact tone of something like: “are you still on that crazy diet?”

      I actually found it funny, because in a back hand way, he was “admitting” the deep dark secret of my epilepsy and that he wished it would just go away.

      Seizure free at last! Yay, my daughter doesn’t have epilepsy!

      Like

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 26, 2019 @ 10:40 AM

  23. I like to think things have changed, and people see our strengths in coping, instead of our disease. But sometimes I am not sure how much peoples attitudes really have changed. So thank you for somehow believing in yourself , even when you were told not to! and thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Therese Funk — October 2, 2019 @ 11:25 AM

    • Thanks for the compliment Therese.

      Perhaps, things are improving. I certainly hope so, for everybody’s sake.

      Like

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 2, 2019 @ 1:02 PM

  24. WOW!!!!!!! Did YOU EVER HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD!!!!! Thank you for ACTUALLY PRINTING IT FOR EVERYONE TO SEE!!!!! I mean that with ALL MY HEART!! 🙏🏼❤️💗💞💕

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — October 11, 2019 @ 10:05 PM

  25. From my heart to yours, Kathy.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 11, 2019 @ 10:20 PM

    • It’s easy for us epileptics to KNOW WITH CONFIDENCE!! But the hard part is getting an international coalition of experts, doctors, nurses, even family and spouses to be on board at all times almost seems impossible!! Sometimes our biggest struggle is our family’s and spouse on board and the rest will come. You’d be surprised how ONE VOICE CAN GET THINGS MOVING!! Seizures are not “fits” as I have heard them described. Because people can have fits and lose everything or they can have seizures and help educate and make other people aware “IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE ANYTIME ANYWHERE!!” All it takes is a little slip or fall. People need to learn to turn the fall (into awareness, knowledge and dollars all over the world). Because when it happens to them or their loved ones it becomes the end of the world for them. That’s what television, radio, internet and even groups can advocate for on behalf of not only epileptics but everyone in general!!!!! Can’t have an economy or peace without the people. Money can’t buy everything but it can sure help connect and educate everyone. All it takes is one fall.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Kathy S.B — October 11, 2019 @ 11:58 PM

  26. One fall can change your life and everyone else’s life around you. I agree.

    But until people realize the seriousness of this “little” fact, epilepsy remains an “orphan” condition.

    Ignored by one and all.

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 12, 2019 @ 10:07 AM

  27. Maybe there should be more commercials ON TELEVISION AND THE RADIO AND ONLINE? I will admit I have been VERY FRUSTRATED AND UPSET because of a feeling of apathy and ignorance, but maybe it’s time for everyone (including governments and officials, states of head, neurologists and epitologists and so on to look at their own families. That puts a different spin on things as well. Goodness it reminds me of sport head injuries!! Sometimes standing on the “WAY SIDE” is not WHATS needed. Maybe we need to look at where the drugs are made from? The land. And go back to the root of the issue and follow it up to see what can be admitted and omitted or changed

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — October 12, 2019 @ 11:45 AM

  28. All agreed, Kathy!

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 12, 2019 @ 1:14 PM


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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

    View Full Profile →

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