My Journey with Epilepsy and Employment

Matthew Molloy, Supplies Inventory Assistant

Matthew Molloy, Supplies Inventory Assistant shares his journey with epilepsy and employment as part of the EEAST Disability Network:

My journey with Epilepsy starts in the paediatric department with confusing symptoms. At the age of 16 I was diagnosed and that’s when things started to change. Immediately, this brought on different ramifications that came with such a diagnosis, like fit free for a year for a driving license and effects on education and life. Initially I managed to gain my drivers license, but due to a seizure, I had to voluntarily surrender my license within a year and a half of passing. Since then it’s been a constant yes/no phase due to having a seizure every 10 to 15 months, until the recent upturn to every six to eight months over the last couple of years and temporarily giving up on driving until everything is settled again.

Naturally, like most the goal was to go through college and go to university, which I partially achieved. I got through my college course and through to university and got through three years; until, unfortunately, the difficulties I then began to have with my Epilepsy and the inherent learning difficulties that come from it. This left me at three years with outstanding modules and no dissertation.

Halfway through my 3rd year I made the decision to pull out and start looking for employment, as a family we all agreed it was best to start simple and went for jobs in retail but would take anything I could to maintain a resemblance of normality. This is something that you can quickly become distanced from when some people take you as different due to the social anxieties and confidence issues that comes from my situation and difficulties.

The employment journey began with part-time in retail; MenKind and then Waitrose delicatessen counter, both hard work, beneficial environments and very different skill sets required.

Working gave me a sense of purpose and I learnt a lot about social skills and like many, a sense of my own money and making my way in life.

My employment journey went up a notch when I got my first full time post, with the East of England Ambulance Service Trust, in the supplies department at Hellesdon and this is where my experiences with wellbeing hubs really began.

I’ve now been a part of the ambulance service for five years, over which have seen my life change professionally and personally;

Professionally, I’ve earnt respect from others and developed as an employee and colleague.

Personally, I’ve developed as a human and grown up over the years and my life outside of work has been relatively normal, rentals,relationships, marriage… everything you’d expect from normality and things you’re almost led to believe will be tough to achieve.

Throughout my years with the ambulance service I have come into contact with the wellbeing hub on several occasions now and seen a fair few return to works, even as recently as 11 November.

When writing about my journey it was important for me to finish on a few bigger thoughts on what I want to achieve and why it’s important to me that the Disability Support Network succeeds.

For me, I’m as ambitious as anyone and want to achieve great things professionally, show that my epilepsy isn’t a hindrance and set an example for others in similar positions.

In my home life, I have two cousins who are worse off than myself and all they aim for is normality and I hope to set a positive example for them as well.

With regards to why it’s important to me that the Disability Support Network is a success, is that whilst I have a great team around me, in my line manager and colleagues, there is an opportunity for a gap to be filled, that maybe the generalised wellbeing hub service misses, with the use of a “network” of peers supporting each other through similar and shared experiences of time off, recovery and returns to work and the emotional and physical aspects of having conditions within the workplace.

I’d like to consider my story an open book and I’m open to helping anyone in similar positions or that wants a greater understanding.

Published 3 November 2019

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