Today marks the 200th birthday of prolific author Charles Dickens, who produced work which included novels such as Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Our Mutual Friend, Great Expectations and Bleak House, to name just a few.
Dickens' history with regard to Epilepsy is not fully known, but due to numbers of characters he wrote about that had the condition, along with the stunning accuracy of his descriptions of the condition, it is thought the only explanation for that accuracy is that Dickens himself suffered from Epilepsy.
If he did however, he didn't do the condition much service at the time of him producing his work - most of his characters with Epilepsy were villains!
Dickens however, like many others does act as an example of people, who despite their Epilepsy, went on to accomplish amazing things during their lifetime. He is also not the only example, even in the literature world, of truly inspiring individuals with the condition. If you were to pick ten of the best authors to have ever lived, it is likely that more than just one of these individuals in your list had Epilepsy. If your list included Leo Tolstoy, Edgar Allan Poe, Edward Lear, Agatha Christie, Lewis Caroll or Graham Greene, then snap.
These are just some of the people who had been diagnosed retrospectively or during their life with the condition and people who I greatly admire. For most if not all of these individuals, they kept their Epilepsy very quiet or hidden because of the repercussions of them being known to have the condition. For Edward Lear, he hid before he had a seizure, most likely because he experienced a Petit-mal Aura, before he had a Grand-mal seizure. But despite this, Dickens, Lear and their contemporaries, some of whom are mentioned here, managed to produce some of the most cherished pieces of writing in history.
It goes to show that despite my own sanctuary from my condition being sport, it is not unprecedented that literature could be the sanctuary of another person with Epilepsy. You could sit at your desk and end up writing the next literary masterpiece.
It's almost awe inspiring to think that even for someone with Epilepsy who has thoughts of working as a politician, you could be following in the footsteps of fellow Epileptic, Julius Caesar.
In an odd way, Epilepsy has actually been thought to cause an almost autistic type effect on sufferers. Not where there is necessarily major issues with communication, but where despite the brian being damaged in one area, another area becomes incredibly prominent and powerful. Which is why many people believe Epilepsy is so prevalent in the list of the most creative and impressive minds in history.
These hugely brave and inspirational figures in history should give anyone with the Epilepsy hope. In a time where Epilepsy was even more grossly stigmatised and misunderstood than now, they pushed forward and became some of the most well known and impressive figures in their respective trades.
- Some of the most impressive and well known ever in human history.