Epilepsy is a neurological disease affecting some 150,000 Americans yearly, and the disorder causes seizures that can run a range of mild to severe. The condition can begin at any age but is most commonly diagnosed in people under 20 and those over 65.
For the most part, those diagnosed with epilepsy can lead normal lives. The condition can be treated with medicine, surgery and other treatment options like eating a ketogenic diet or wearing a vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) device.
There are a number of famous people with epilepsy who have had brilliant careers and offered excellent advice on thriving with the neurological condition
Here are three iconic figures with epilepsy who have inspired many along the way:
1. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, at age 42, became the 26th President of the United States, and he was also an American living with epilepsy. At the time, he did not come forward to reveal he had epilepsy, and very few knew of his condition because he was so active outdoors and went about normal life despite other medical issues like asthma and poor eyesight.
Roosevelt had powerful words for motivating others:
“Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.”
2. Prince Rogers Nelson, the late musician born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was another celebrity who faced epilepsy in his lifetime. The brilliant talent achieved a total of ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles during his dazzling career.
Prince spoke to People Magazine in 2009 about his challenges with childhood epilepsy. Kids in school poked fun at him but that only gave him the creativity and strength to develop his unique persona and musical gifts over the years.
3. Jason Snelling, the standout former Atlanta Falcons running back, is another famous person who came forward with his epilepsy battle. The football athlete was diagnosed while in college but received treatment and was able to go pro and succeed in a dangerous sport.
Snelling is a prominent voice for the Epilepsy Foundation and encourages people with the condition not to fear having seizures in public. The disease can be managed, he says, and one can lead a full life.
Snelling says that epilepsy has helped define his character.
In closing, epilepsy does not need to be a debilitating disease. By learning your specific triggers and owning epilepsy, you can do anything you out your mind to.