• Belle Tan

Caught In The In-Between

In 6th grade, before I moved schools, I was falling asleep in class. My eyes were probably glassy-eyed, if you talked to me I probably wouldn’t respond, and I think I would walk around campus like a robot, “aware” of the surroundings, but at the same time, not really present. If ever I did, I wouldn’t remember it.


Any of it.


I would love to say, “I know what’s happening to me,” but I didn’t. My mom, dad, sister, aunt, everyone at home and that I knew didn’t know what was happening to me either.


The next day, when everything went back to the way it was, I looked fine, healthy, and I was no longer sleeping. I was okay. Nothing was wrong.


But in my head, I was wondering, “Why is this happening? What is happening? Why can’t I remember anything? What will this do with my friendships at my new school? My grades? What would people think of me? Is there something wrong with me? Is this my fault?”


When I moved schools that same year, this happened a bit more frequently. I was more nervous, scared, and had more questions. It seemed endless.


I continued to have these lapses. I would wake up, with no knowledge and rely on my sister, friends, or classmates to make sense of what happened.


Yet, even as I played catch-up, everything seemed vague. A blur.


When I moved we thought we could prevent these lapses. That this was just due to lack of sleep, vitamins, or iron, and I could control it. Nothing big.


One day, after an incident in school that sent me home and my parents to the Middle School Office the following morning, things changed even more.


The days of tiptoeing around blindly were over.


I went to the neurologist-pediatrician, took tests, and waited for the results. I waited and waited. Not a few days but a week.


As the days neared, knowing that I can see the results at any point terrified me. I felt like I would rather not know. But there was this need to know.


Every question I received led to more questions. Every answer led to more questions. Everything seemed to go around in a never-ending circle. Simultaneously, I wanted to get to know what was happening to me, to understand, and finally get to the bottom of it. But if it didn’t work in my favor better not get hurt and never know, right?


The bottom line: I had epilepsy.


Once I learned this, I had to change my lifestyle. I had to take medications, avoid eating too many sweets, control my nerves, and sleep early, to name a few. All to ensure that I didn’t “fall asleep” anymore or have a seizure.


I only told people who were close to me. I was embarrassed and scared that I would be teased, treated differently, or bullied because of my epilepsy. I didn’t want anyone to find and for those who knew, the magic word I told them was, “Don’t tell anyone.”


This got to the point where I wallowed in my self-pity, telling myself something like, “This is so hard because of my epilepsy. I wish I didn’t have epilepsy. Why can’t I be like everyone else? Why?”


I was 12-years-old at the time, and clearly, I didn’t handle anything well. I was fueled with so many emotions that I forgot to see that the grass was green. Although, good things came out of this time. Not everything was as bleak as I imagined it to be.


First, I excelled in my academics. I was part of the honor roll for the first time since I got that one-off certificate in first grade. Hard work prevailed. Next, I learned to ask for help, especially when I needed it. Last but not the least, I controlled my seizures.


However, what I find interesting during this time is the in-between, not the end result. The time I started having seizures, waiting for the results, and feeling like my world had shifted 360 degrees. I was in a place where I didn’t know myself and wanted to know myself. But at the same time, I couldn’t accept my epilepsy. It was a game of tug of war, where I wanted to move forward, yet I couldn’t. I was trapped by all the changes and shocked. Although, I didn’t know how to handle them. I couldn’t even see what was inside and in front of me. It prevented me from changing.


When I think about it, being in the middle is an opportunity to change and make something happen.


During this time, I should have reflected on how I felt and handled the results rather than pining over the result. I should have been thinking about myself rather than thinking about how others would react, treat me, or their opinion of me. On top of that, I think I should have just been more willing to navigate the uncertainties I was experiencing in my life.


Besides that, as someone attuned to my emotions, I think that I shouldn’t have let my fears and insecurities consume me. I should have learned how to understand what was happening, even if I didn’t understand what was happening. Now I know, not knowing is also a way for me to understand the situation.


Not knowing is okay. It happens, answers will follow suit. Wait a little while.


There is a lot I wished I had done. But even so, I saw how I evolved and how I dealt with new situations. Now, I can learn from there. It is important to remember that there is always something beyond the surface and an explanation for things that happen to you in your life, including the process.


I will always be caught in the in-between. You will always be caught in the in-between. Life is full of in-betweens. It occurs everywhere. Instead of thinking about ways to overcome this, we should think about the time we are in and the process that is unfolding before our eyes. If you can’t see it, just go with the flow and then ask the questions. You will see it in due time, I promise.


This is a cycle that keeps on going, but each time is different. I will try and make sure I learn as much as I can from it. How about you? Will you? I hope you do. It will be worth it in the end.