Man walking his bike on a city street with lights in the background.
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Taking care of myself is something my mother taught me well. Life is about hard work because no one is going to give you what you want.

After I was diagnosed with my seizure disorder, I became depressed. Then I started getting high and drinking to cope with depression. Many incidents that I don’t even remember occurred because of my alcohol abuse. But I got through it — I haven’t had a drink in over 10 years.

[read part 2]

One day, during that spiral, Mother opened the door to my room. It was the middle of the day, the middle of the week, and there she saw four Black men sitting around. The oldest of us was 22. And she couldn’t stand it. Mother told everyone to get up and get out — no one was allowed back in her home until everyone got a job.

And we did, within about a week.

My issue became where could I work that my condition wouldn’t get in the way. Remember, I tried KFC and the results weren’t good. But I had also recently been put on medication that was supposed to help control my episodes.

But I soon learned the cost of my medicine would be $500 per month. I couldn’t afford it, so I lived life med free. At that point I was in Maryland where my mother lived. My first job was selling The Washington Post newspaper Monday through Sunday. But when I got paid I messed the money up by not being responsible.

Years went by as I traveled in the same cycle: get a job, get a girlfriend, fail and do it all over again. That was my story, every two years or so. Luckily, I didn’t get anyone pregnant. I love kids, but my health is borderline and no stable home or income makes it difficult just looking out for myself.

People see me in the streets or on the bus and don’t realize the pain and difficulty I’m facing.

I’m proud of myself for making it this far in life despite the barriers in front of me, past, present and future. I had to stop working last year when my seizures became more frequent. This increase can only be caused by two things: medication not working properly or an excessive amount of stress in my life. When I’m stress-free and stable, I don’t have any issues. But right now It’s a combination of both. Stress is still the main cause of my seizures.

With epilepsy, the rules are different. I have limits others don’t. So now I sleep on the floor at my sister’s place. Doctors have told me not to work anywhere until I’m 100 percent sure the new medication works.

So far it doesn’t. I have at least three episodes per day.

I’m experienced in maintenance and electrical work. I’ve also worked in sales, contracting, security and a few other areas. It’s frustrating not being able to accept job opportunities and use my skills fully.

The reason for any termination has been actions during one of my episodes or my choice to miss work for extremely important appointments with my neurologist. Most jobs don’t let you take off or don’t provide sick leave — which can mess your money up when you’ve got bills to pay. Everyone tells me they take my seizures and epilepsy seriously, but most seem to forget about my condition five minutes later.

But I live with this 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

My current goal is to become stress-free, listen to my doctors and make it to all my appointments. And Street Sense is helping me do that. A couple of years ago, I met a friend who told me I should try selling the newspaper. I never took the opportunity seriously. Now that has changed, and they are providing me with much-needed knowledge and income to help me live a normal life.

And from that I shall build an empire…