Every major religion tells the stories about individuals who travel through the wilderness in search of guidance. Whether you are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Moslem, Native American or any of the countless other faiths that populate the globe, you have a story about a spiritual wilderness journey that provides answers to the individual with the strength and patience to withstand the trials, the physical adversities.
The wilderness is where the individual seeks to connect with others on a higher level, to benefit from their knowledge, to reveal the sojourner’s highest and best self.
In a spiritual wilderness, the individual has stepped out of the comfort zone, the preferred environment, and will experience physical and spiritual discomfort, loneliness, impatience, frustration, and doubt.
Since I am a Christian, I am most familiar with the Exodus stories of the Jews during their 40 years in the wilderness; and of Christ in the wilderness gathering strength for the ministry to come. But there are many other wilderness accounts, such as Buddha under the Bodhi tree waiting for answers, and of Native Americans alone in the desert seeking direction for their lives.
I believe that those of us with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy will make a journey through a medical wilderness at some point in our life. We may have different reasons, but the goals are the same: enlightenment and revelation.
When I began to think of the concept that a spiritual wilderness and a medical wilderness have a lot in common, I looked for a definition for medical wilderness, but I only found links to wilderness medicine. Not the same thing. How odd that this concept is not common.
If you take the criteria for a spiritual wilderness that I mentioned earlier and apply them to a personal medical crisis, they fit. How many of us knowingly walk into the unknown wilderness when looking for answers to questions that go beyond medication lists and physical limitations? We are alone in this and it’s up to us to move through it. We wait, we research, we read, we think it through thousands of times trying to reach a logical conclusion. We reach out to others in an attempt to gather information from those who have done this before, hoping someone will understand and give us the information that fits our personal challenges.
Many of us see each day as a physically challenging event and work to find the patience to fight bitterness and anger. We seek, all of us, at one time or another, to understand how TLE fits into who we are and how we are to live the rest of our life.
We all want to rise above the stigma and accept the gifts.
In simpler terms, we are often lonely, in pain, depressed, ashamed, and in the dark (mentally, emotionally, and spiritually). We are often reaching out for more information, more understanding, more self-awareness and more compassion from other and from ourselves.
TLE is not just a chronic illness that a pill can modify or cure. It is a condition in our brains that impacts not only who we are as individuals, but also the way we see and understand the world. Even when seizures stop, the TLE personality continues to exist.
Because it is in our brains…