Epilepsy means bruises. A seizure involves an inevitable fall. Sometimes those falls are on to another person, making the bruises appear like finger prints. Other times hard surfaces are given the opportunity to paint my skin with an array of colours.
Once I was sat in a Coffee Shop waiting for a friend to turn up, late as always, when a complete stranger came and sat in the seat directly opposite me.
“You don’t have to live with it”
I had absolutely no idea what this woman was talking about. I began to scan her face, hoping that I would recognise her in some way.
“There are people that can help you”
Her kind caring eyes were piercing into mine as I desperately tried to string two words together. I was beginning to wonder whether she’d mistaken me for someone else, but there was such confidence along with the compassion in her voice that I dismissed this as a possibility.
It was at this point that she reached out her hand and rested it on the top of mine. This was getting uncomfortable. I was in a state of complete confusion looking at this woman’s hand and trying to process the sentences she was approaching me with.
“This type of relationship isn’t healthy for you”
My eyes lifted from her hand to her face.
“No one should do that to you. You don’t deserve it”
And suddenly it clicked. The Bruises. I had a particularly violent array of bruises on my arms, chin and cheekbone from a harsh unlucky encounter with a concrete step during a seizure. She had looked at these purple, brown and black patches and assumed that I was in a violent relationship.
I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. But she didn’t give me a chance, instead she started rummaging around in the bag she had brought over with her.
“Listen to me, you don’t need to live like this”
By this time she had retrieved a pen from her bag and had begun to scribble on the napkin on the table between us.
“I know you probably don’t want to talk about it here with me, but call this number. People can help you through this. Remember you don’t deserve it”
She handed me the napkin, now covered in digits, left the table, left the empty coffee mug from which she had been drinking and walked out of the café.
This woman, a complete stranger to me, looked at the marks on my face and felt as though she could help me. She tried to help me.
This compassionate, caring stranger still has no idea that I am epileptic. She must still assume that I am or was in an abusive relationship.
But nevertheless, without any confirmation, this stranger came up and cared.
The phone number was a helpline for Victims of Domestic Abuse.
If I was one of those unfortunate individuals suffering at the hand of another, maybe she would have helped. Maybe she would have made the difference.