Client Award Recipient: Sharon Irby

We recently held our 2019-2020 Annual Meeting, as we transition our Board of Directors and Professional Advisory Board.  Also, part of our Annual Meeting is our Client Award presentation. Our Client Award is presented annually to an Epilepsy Association client who has made significant achievements in overcoming issues related to having epilepsy. The 2020 Client Award recipient is Sharon. Read more about Sharon’s story and success below. 

Client Award Winner: Sharon Irby

Living with Epilepsy

By: Sharon Irby

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about living with epilepsy is, “Who doesn’t love a good roller coaster ride?” More dips, loops, sharp curves, slow climbs, fast drops, and upside-down flips than you could have ever imagined.

I was diagnosed with epilepsy in February of 2015. I went to bed one night and woke up 5 days later from being in an induced coma due to uncontrollable seizures. It was more life altering than I could have ever imagined. Epilepsy caused my life to do a complete turn and did not ask my permission, my opinion, or how I felt about it. My first turn, I asked when I could return to work.  My doctors answered, “Ms. Irby with the amount of damage on your brain you’ll never be able to work again. I strongly suggest you apply for Social Security”. It was also no longer safe for me to live alone with my daughter, who at that time was 9 years old, and we had to move in with family.

I developed epilepsy due to having inflammation on my brain which has caused me to experience memory loss, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. As you could probably imagine this was quite an emotional roller coaster ride. You would think the people who know what’s going on with you would be the most supportive, compassionate and understanding. 

I felt alone until I was introduced to an organization that literally saved my life– the Epilepsy Association. I was able to meet people who were sympathetic and compassionate to that wonderful roller coaster ride I mentioned earlier. They gave me comfort while experiencing the most uncomfortable times in my life. I honestly believe that if I didn’t have my case manger and the other staff members at the Epilepsy Association that I would have given up on life.

Today my youngest daughter and I live in our own apartment. I’m finding out who I am with epilepsy. This fall I will be enrolling in college and I will be returning to my passion which is community engagement. I may have epilepsy, but epilepsy won’t stop me from reaching my goals and living a great life.  My name is Sharon Irby, and I wasn’t built to break. I was built to last.

To hear more from Sharon, and to watch her YouTube video, click the link below! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umcZLO2uoyE&t=1s

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