When I was a young boy I always used to prefer bees over wasps. Naturally I wasn’t particularly fond of either, but if I had to choose then the winner as far as I was concerned would always be the bumble bee. This was not a mere random choice, either, but one that was born out of reason (as much reason as a young boy can achieve).

Generally, as I was informed by my parents, a bumble bee will not sting you, not unless you provoke it, whereas wasps can be a lot less predictable, and will sting you whenever they feel like it. It was not, however, this factor that made up my opinion of wasps. If you encourage a bee to leave by the slightly uncoordinated wafting of a rolled newspaper (which can all too quickly dissolve into frantic swatting) then generally the bee will get the message and fly away. Unfortunately it would seem that wasps do not share this civility of knowing when to simply leave, but instead encroach upon all manner of events . Wasps will not stop offending unless one of three scenarios occur, 1) The become trapped in a jar or bottle and lose all threat. 2) You get lucky with a rolled up newspaper and finish off the wasp. 3) It stings you brutally and then decides to leave.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I am going on about wasps and bees instead of the impacts of epilepsy, a fair enough question. What I am trying to get at is the connection between wasps or bees and epilepsy.

Up until very recently I had always believed that my epilepsy was a form of super-bee. It had the ability to inflict a huge sting that could leave me completely debilitated, but if  took the necessary precautions then I could prevent this neurological bee from stinging me, or at least prevent the majority of the stings (obviously some just came along, but I’ll ignore them because they don’t fit the analogy). If I had enough sleep every night, didn’t get too stressed, ate enough food then I could generally reduce the amount of times which I became ill, and how the epilepsy affected me. This patter seemed to continue, on and off, for about three years. There were periods of a month or two between different medication changes when I was ill as my body was adjusting to the new medication, but to a relatively large extent I was able to  negate a lot of these symptoms. They never fully went I away, but I think that they really were subdued.

When the bee left me alone and I managed to patch myself together, regain my composure and return to normality for about a year to 18 months, and I was almost completely unaffected, besides the odd partial seizure there was not anything that made me think the bee was going to stay around. Recently I was stung, for the first time in about 18 months, and it came completely out of the blue. I was at school when I started feeling a tempest of emotions that revolved every five minutes, leaving me desperately isolated in a room full of friends. These overwhelming mood swings resulted in me crying heavily in the school nurse’s office. I was completely confused and worried, and I felt completely stranded and felt like I had been taken all the way back to stage 1, like I had the whole journey ahead of me, I felt incredibly low, and almost fell into depression.

For the first time in a long time I missed three straight days due to epilepsy, and I became worried about going to school. I could not rationalise any of the fears I was feeling, and got into the ruthless circle of being ill, and therefore getting stressed so much that I was ill again. The only positive that I could find was that at least it would allow for a good blog post.

What I am trying to get at is that I am worried, really quite worried, that my epilepsy may in fact be a wasp. I have taken so many precautions to calm my epilepsy, and stave off what I thought was a bee. Every school night I am in bed by ten, I eat healthily and am rarely stressed. Yet somehow I was submerged by something that I had no control over.

I am concerned, now, that epilepsy is a wasp, a wasp that will stay around for as long as it wants to, and will only leave once it has stung,

Looking back, I have probably always known that it was a wasp, but as mentioned in previous blogs, I forgot how bad it was after a while, but now that I am possible facing the prospect that it has returned I feel worried, and at mercy of this wasp that has controlled me for the majority of my teenage years.

I guess I better try to get a lucky shot in with a newspaper.

I hope you’re well, and that this little story has helped in any way,

Have a good weekend,

Rob.

 

I feel that this is quite a relevant quote, and it’s by Leo Tolstoy, who was awesome.

“One can no more approach people without love than one can approach bees without care. Such is the quality of bees…”
― Leo Tolstoy

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Epilepsy is an incredibly complex illness. It is caused by a sudden surcharge of electrical activity in the brain. Unsurprisingly I have no idea how you would go about measuring electrical activity in  the brain. I do, however, have a very clear grasp on what the effects of these pieces of sudden electrical activity are, I have built an extensive knowledge firsthand. My early teenage years were plagued with the effects of epilepsy, and I had a clear idea of the consequences to my well being. Fortunately I need not understand how to curb these sudden impulses of electrical activity, there are many doctors who understand what is going on, and some have a competent grasp on how to deal with these problems. It was, as it is with all patients, my doctor’s job to deal with my epilepsy, and naturally I placed all trust in their hands. I did not mind what process I was subjected to, what medicines (obviously to an extent) I was given, and I understood that they were trying their hardest to give a return on that trust and compliance. The complexity of epilepsy means that, unfortunately, there is no simple way to deal with the intrusions of the illness, a quick tablet, at least in my case, was not enough to banish the range of ways in which my epilepsy came forth as mentioned in previous blogs. I underwent a variety of different scans and monitoring so that whichever doctor I had at the time could try and unravel the mystery of what was happening to me. I was absolutely fine with this, I did not mind what machine the doctors plugged me in to, all I cared about was the end result, getting better. I must add, however, that this compliance, as far as I know, is nothing out of the ordinary, many people suffering with epilepsy submit themselves to ranges of equipment, such is the desire to remove oneself of epilepsy. In fact, to begin with, I did not mind these different ways of finding out what was wrong with me bad at all. I remember the first time that I was told that I was to have a full head MRI scan and different people warning me how scary or claustrophobic the tunnel like confines of the bed would be. I was not fazed at all, and almost excited at the prospect that maybe a preventative measure towards my epilepsy could be found. When I arrived into the scanning room the nurse put me at ease and when the scan was underway some relaxing music was played out through some grainy speakers. One of the things about going to school with epilepsy is that you can become very tired, and lying down, listening to music, with the prospect of a recovery on my mind I found myself becoming very relaxed. I fell asleep almost immediately, and woke to the sounds of the MRI finishing and being slid out of the scanner. Unfortunately, the puzzle was not solved, and the epilepsy continued to manifest in different directions. With all the doctors perplexed, and fast forwarding about a year and a half I found myself being told that the next step would to be a week in hospital, with my head strapped to a monitor. Normally lying in bed, being waited on for a week wouldn’t be too bad of a prospect. But as I mentioned, I was strapped into a monitor, I was being monitored. Unsurprisingly, with no stress and no tiredness my epilepsy, and all signs of it, hid for the whole week, and when I was recalled to hospital about six months later, there were still no seizures. I felt absolutely fine, and 5 days, which grew into 7, is a long time to be completely healthy, well if you have epilepsy it is, and I began to really doubt whether the epilepsy was all in my head. I felt like my doctors were passing judgement, and almost felt myself wishing to have a seizure so that I could prove to them that I had been incredibly unwell. You see, if you are unfamiliar with epilepsy, the thing is is that it can leave absolutely no trace, and it can seem hard to remember, after a long period of time, how bad it truly was. I went for about a year and a half recently without any major signs of my epilepsy, or any side effects of my medication, and I began to question, in reality, how bad some of my partial seizures had ever been. Then, hit with a virus I had picked up on a school trip, and on my way home, I found that I could not feel my legs. The familiar panic and general melancholy feeling washed over me, and for a brief period I felt like I was back at square one. Fortunately the feeling subsided, and I only missed a day or two off school, but I can clearly remember the feeling, the feeling of utter hopelessness that can so quickly wash over you when the epilepsy hits. This reminded me how bad epilepsy really is, and how it can make you feel. It made me feel grateful, it makes me feel grateful, every day when I wake up and I am healthy, even when it’s raining, cold, dark and the train is 5 minutes late. So please never doubt yourself, even if it feels like others may be, because you are not alone, and everything you have got through is down to your strength, not the fact that it never happened. Have a good day, Rob.

“I had some ambition. I meant everything to be different with me. I thought I had more strength and mastery. But the most terrible obstacles are such as nobody can see except oneself.”
― George Eliot

Firstly a quick apology about the missing blog last week, I had some school exams and got rather caught up in them, I’ll try to make up for that with an extra blog this week:

A lot of people seem to spend a lot of their time speaking about how much other people obsess over how people looks. In my opinion, this act of self-righteous gossip simply adds to the obsession of self image. I am not sure whether there has always been such a contrived focus on appearance, I’m only 16, and haven’t experienced anything else.

If you were to meet me today the first thing you would notice is that I’m tall, about 6 foot 4, followed with the fact that I’m rather thin. I’ve always been relatively thin.

As I’ve mentioned, epilepsy does not just provide the debilitating effects of a tonic clonic, or grandmal, seizure, unfortunately it comes with a cocktail of partial seizures which, for me, were brought on by both the epilepsy and the numerous medication changes that I underwent as an attempt to curb the epilepsy. The side effects from different medications, as I will cover in a later blog, ranged immensley. The side effect that had the worst personal impact on me was my loss in weight.

As I said, I have always been rather thin and tall, in rugby I was stationed on the wing (before my epilepsy forced me to stop playing) and in athletics I can be found by the hurdles. However, I was always comfortable in my body, I am an optimistic guy, and never really gave any consideration to what the scales said. I never paid attention to the scales said, until my consultant told me that the sheer loss in weight I was having was becoming dangerous. To put my size in perspective I was 6 foot 1 and only 48kg. I was tiny, and suffered from strong nausea frequently and at points simply couldn’t eat, it really was a rather miserable time.

My consultant prescribed some protein milkshakes to try to compensate for the lack of food intake which contained 600 calories each. Unfortunately the problem couldn’t immediately be solved, I was severly underweight, and would remain so for a while.

I was able to hide most of the other side effects from my medication changes, but my skeletal appearance was not one that I could hide. When someone becomes noticeably thinner then people begin to notice, and being a teenage boy at school was a predicament to be in when people began to notice.

I can vividly remember one moment that really stands out from the crowd of observations about my weight. At school we were going for a swimming lesson, enough of a deal without epilepsy – my swimming is appalling. One of the obvious factors to going swimming is the fact that you have to get changed. A boy in my year, whom I wasn’t massively close to, remarked how skinny I was. Unsurprisingly this was not a huge revelation, I had begun to notice the lack off size to myself every time I looked in the mirror and saw my ribs glaring back at me. Trying to move on from this incredibly frustrating and embarrassing comment I replied, as casually as possible, that my epilepsy had made me rather ill, and this had caused the severe weight loss. I then expected the awkward, and even more embarrassing, period of silence that occurs after a poorly judged inquiry. Instead I felt slapped when the reply was that I was wrong, I had always been skinny.

Moments like these were absolutely crushing, the fear that I experienced every day when I caught a reflection of my body became true. The lack of an apology, and instead a justification proved how some people can actually think; it is their right to judge, and if someone has lost weight then they probably aren’t aware. This issue did not just reign within school, a lot of people noticed my appearance, and took the duty upon themselves to notify me, incase I was completely unaware.

This issue caused me a lot of discomfort, both at the anger I felt at people’s opinions that it was completely fine to openly comment on my appearance, and the overriding embarrassment that I felt that everyone had noticed the thing about me that I was so embarrassed about.

The side effects from my epilepsy were terrible, they were debilitating and often scary, but worst of all they made me feel like a different person; they took away my personality. However I could always try to hide these, normally I could predict when they were coming and would stay at home. My weight was the exception, it was like a shadow which followed me around for all to see, and to comment upon.

It was an incredibly tough time, and one that reared its head for a while, and can still be felt now, and noticed. I wish people would cease to judge, and let people deal with themselves. It is difficult, but epilepsy is an ostracising illness, which can sometimes show up in public without an explanation.

“As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their “right” place.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen

As mentioned in my previous blogs, my epilepsy announced itself when I was twelve. It was the morning of a school day and I had just gotten out of the shower and shaken some of the early sleepiness. I woke up in hospital a few hours later with an agonising headache and a powerful feeling of nausea. I cannot remember any of the time in between this, I have a vague recollection of seeing flashing lights and that is it. According to my poor family I went into status epilepticus for around half an hour, including grotesque mouth frothing and my eyes rolling back. This incredibly disturbing scene is not part of my memory, fortunately I have absolutely no idea of the situation that occurred, besides what I have been told about by my family. I count this as a blessing. The whole aftermath of a seizure is naturally horrible, the day, or night, spent in hospital, the isolation from my normal life and the mental discontinuity is not diminished, but at least I did not witness myself having the seizure.

Unfortunately epilepsy is not so simple that you can have the occasional seizure, wake up in hospital feeling horrible, get checked over and leave. Epilepsy comes with a little trick up its sleeve, partial seizures.

After getting checked out of the hospital after my first seizure my parents, naturally, took me to see the consultant, to see why what had happened had happened. We were advised to not put me immediately onto medication to prevent these seizures happening, in order to see if it was simply a one off. And we hoped it was. 6 undisturbed weeks went by, and I was fine, no seizure and no diagnosed epilepsy.

6 weeks is a long time for a 12 year old boy, a lot happens and a lot is forgotten, which was why it was such a shock when I woke up in an unfamiliar bed, in an unfamiliar room with an unfamiliar smell, my Dad to my left and my Mum to my right. After going through the whole process of shaking off the grogginess, leaving the hospital and trying to get back to normal routine we met once again with the consultant.

It was now obvious that my first seizure was not a one off and therefore action had to be done. The terms epilepsy, and neurological and other long words relating to the brain, fluttered around the room, and eventually the choice to put me onto medication was decided (I mention ‘choice’ simply because, naturally, I had no idea how to treat epilepsy, or even what it was). The first medication I was slowly weened on to, and relatively swiftly off, was epilim. I, alongside my parents, was keen to get on to medication, anything to stop these periodic waking up in hospital moments.

Unfortunately these seizures that I had just encountered would not go away for a very long time, and the various medications brought along different partial seizures to accompany these seizures.

The term partial seizure, in my opinion, is an appalling term; I only use it because it is the one I know, and anyone whom knows anything about epilepsy understands.

Partial seizures are by no means partially as bad as the normal seizure which comes to mind when one thinks of epilepsy. In fact, the worst moment that I can remember throughout my time with epilepsy, was a partial seizure which occurred in a french lesson. The fact that I was in a french lesson was bad enough, without, to put it simply, the sheer embarrassment of having a seizure surrounded by people in my year. I lost control of my legs, which had happened many times, but then lost control of my whole body. I had to be escorted to the playground, via one of those chairs that the teachers use with wheels on the bottom, and then driven home by my mum. Naturally word got around, and I was left to deal with not only the lasting physical effects of a partial seizure, but also the almost shaming effects of the partial seizure, everyone had heard what had happened, and I went from being able to deal with my illness at home, to having it remembered about at school.

These partial seizures continued, with varying degrees of horribleness. I reacted incredibly badly to medication, and went through 6 or 7 different tablets and liquids before stabilising on the one that I am on now. It was, it has been, an incredibly long journey, filled with the arduous weening on and off medication, and the partial seizures were the worst part of that nightmarish journey.

So if anyone you know with epilepsy mentions a partial seizure, do not be relieved by the fact that it is only partial, but speak to them, understand that they will certainly not view it as partial.

I hope that, whether it is you suffering with epilepsy, or someone you know whom is suffering, that you are on the road to recovery, or if not, can take solace in the idea that there are people whom understand the incredible difficulties that epilepsy poses, everyday, Rob.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Søren Kierkegaard

After completing and uploading my last blog, I thought ahead to this week, and the topic I would write about. I considered covering the subject of depression, but even quicker than I thought of the topic, I discarded the idea. This was, and is, an incredibly emotional area of my life, obviously, as depression is the pure concentration of negative emotion. However, after much inner discussion, I have decided to write about depression, in the hope that I can connect with other people who have suffered.

In my last blog (and yes, there will be adversity) I spoke of the inevitable ostracism that occurred as a chain reaction to my epilepsy, and with all honesty it must be addressed that this was a significant catalyst in my despair. The detachment from people my own age, from friends made me feel completely isolated. Yes, I was surrounded by the most loving family imaginable, but, if I was well (and it was a big if) then my day was spent at school, away from my family, surrounded by crowds, and completely alone.

I have sat down to write this blog entry a fair few times, written what I had stored up in my mind, amounting to a couple of sentences, and then realising that I could not continue, I left my laptop and desk, and went to my Mum, and told her of the difficulty that I was having in writing this entry. My Mum replied that it was all over; I didn’t even have to write about this if it was too painful. It has been the first time I have cried over my epilepsy in a long time, and it has occurred to me how much of a cathartic process this blog is. But that is not the main reason I am writing this, I have started to write this blog because I could have really done with something like this when I was ill, someone to tell me that I was not alone.

The other reason that I have been reluctant to write about this is because of the stigma attached to depression. It is a taboo subject, much like epilepsy, people know it is there but avoid acknowledging it. This meant that I kept my feelings to myself, I even tried to remain with a stiff upper lip at home, partly due to the fact I was a lot less sad, and partly simply due to the fact that I wanted to save my family from the tears.

This lack of output meant that the tears were building up inside, the frustration, hopelessness, pain, worry, desperation and the general feeling of helplessness. I can remember when they came out.

As a rule of thumb, I am generally happy person, the glass is half full, and I try to have a smile on my face. But, like with anyone suffering with epilepsy can tell you, it can easily all get too much. I can remember one night, just before bed, I was feeling very down, the most emotionally ruined I had ever been. I was just about to take my medicine, and retire to bed, when I questioned why. I suffered incredible side effects from my medicine, and I will cover these in another blog. I sat on the sofa, in a flood of tears, completely inconsolable. Emphasis on the inconsolable. Often, when upset, a chat with my parents, or close friends, is all I need. But I had gone beyond this point; I was completely inconsolable. Over the period of illness I developed an incredible bond with my family, and my parents realised what I was feeling, and the sympathy and understanding they gave me in that moment, consoling me as much as they could, before leaving me on my own, to face what was upsetting me. That night I took my medicine and went to bed. I have never thanked my family for that moment, the moment where they understood exactly how I was feeling, and the frustration that had overtaken my mind. Words cannot express how important this moment was for me, I was given all the support that I needed, but ultimately the strength had t0 come from within. I’m not sure how it happened, but my strength came from within, and somehow, whilst writing this entry, it has come from within.

This has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done, definitely the most difficult thing that I have written. Confronting what really troubled me, what I have hidden, has been hard, but I want to reassure anyone reading this, that you are not alone, it is not your fault, and you will find the strength from within, you have to, it’s a difficult situation, but no one will be able to give that strength to you.

I hope you are well, wherever you are, both physically and mentally.

Have a good weekend, Rob.

I’ll say goodbye with this quote, it’s incredibly simple and direct – why overcomplicate something?

There’s something about a catharsis that is very important – Glenn Close

When I was first diagnosed with epilepsy, as a relatively immature 12 year old boy, I had no idea what I was in for. This was primarily due to the fact that I had no idea what epilepsy was. Yes, I had heard the word being used, and had a basic concept of what a seizure was. I even looked up the definition, to try and prepare my self for the preliminary talks with doctors, it appeared that epilepsy was

Any of various neurological disorders characterized by sudden recurring attacks of motor, sensory, or psychic malfunction with or without loss of consciousness or convulsive seizures.

Unsurprisingly, these definitions, and limited prior knowledge left me completely in the dark about what epilepsy was, how it would affect me, and others around me. This, for me, is one of the absolute worst things about epilepsy, its anonymity within society. After my first seizure, a tonic clonic which left me in hospital I was off school for a week and, to a crowd of young teenagers, this is a story, something to be discussed at lunchtime. I received messages from friends asking what was wrong and found that I could only answer that I had been told I had had a seizure. Like my initial reaction, my friends were confused, and did not really know what was wrong. This did not annoy me at all, why should it? The animosity however, that developed over the coming months and years, I have to admit, did catch me unguarded.

“Suspicion and doubt lead to animosity and hatred.” – Ralph Steadman.

I have found, through my own experiences, that the quote above is almost tragically true. Scratch that, it is tragically true. When I had my first seizure I was off school for a week, and in that time my year was informed in assembly what had happened in an attempt to breach any confusion, which was similar to the tactic of pouring petrol over a fire to calm the flames. For a short time I was a minor celebrity, if you replace the cameras with inquisitive stares, and the screams of the crowd with hushed whispers. Once this seizure fever had died down, and the year had moved on to the next drama, as every playground does in every school, my epilepsy was no longer the talk, I was no longer famous; my epilepsy had disappeared in everyone’s eyes. This was great news, I returned, with impeccable speed, to my former self – the immature 12 year old.

Unfortunately my epilepsy had not disappeared, and the odds are, if you are reading this because you have epilepsy, yours won’t either, immediately. I was off school frequently, and can’t remember any two weeks where I was not absent for at least a day, normally I was off for at least half of the week, and when I was in school I was not myself, I was a slave to the side effects of the powerful medicine that any person with epilepsy has to welcome into their life.

When I was off school, with my epilepsy largely forgotten, people began to doubt the legitimacy of my illness, and, as the quote depicts, suspicion leads to animosity. My social life ceased to exist, and friends dropped like flies.

This was a tumultuous period of time, and the seclusion that was imposed upon me meant that I acquired some of the closest friends that I have ever had. People outside of my family that I could confide in. The thing about an illness that no-one knows anything about is that you can forget any idea of mass sympathy. Unfortunately epilepsy is an illness that virtually everyone knows virtually nothing about. When I was ill I was put in the situation where I knew who was a friend, who wasn’t a friend and who wasn’t sure, and therefore stopped being a friend. This sped life up a lot, there was no gradually fading out of friendship.

It was unbelievably tough to cope with, but now I have real friends who I can trust, and, looking back over this time, that is something that I am grateful for.

I hope you can draw something from this blog, be it that the road to health is less of a motorway and more of a mountain pass, or be it that true friendship, as rare as gold dust, is one of the greatest things that you can have.

I hope you are on the road to recovery, or whomever that you know with epilepsy is on the road to recovery,

Have a good weekend,

Rob.

“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” (Christopher Robin to Pooh). – A. A. Milne

Hi everyone, and welcome to the first installation of my weekly article, and I hope I can help with any of your epilepsy concerns. Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Rob Stehrenberger. When I was twelve I was diagnosed with Juvenile epilepsy. I underwent a tumultuous beginning to my teenage years, which gave me the lowest points I have ever experienced, but allowed me to now appreciate my everyday life. From twelve to fifteen I was almost unimaginably ill, certainly unimaginable to myself prior to my illness.

When I was ill, any teacher, friend, relative or other well-wisher would considerately ask after me, and with even more compassion and endearment give me a piece of advice that they had discovered whilst patrolling forums and any articles they could find. With equal amounts of consideration I would thank them for their ideas on how I should behave, or why my medicine wasn’t working, but unfortunately I found myself, within my mind, consigning their help to the ever growing stack of advice that was slowly transforming my thoughts into an epilepsy encyclopaedia. I am not saying, and desperately do not want to give off the impression, that I did not have any need for help. I believe that the greatest factor in my passage through epilepsy was the help I received. However, best intentions were not always the best.

If I was reading this blog for the first time, like anyone reading it now, I would think how incredibly selfish that last paragraph sounds. I was given help by caring people, and I ignored most of it. That, I believe is due to the character and personality that I adopted, or even adopted me, when I was ill. The epilepsy was the means and my restoring my health was the end. At least it was for a while. This attitude meant that I was dogmatically focused on the just getting better, I was not trying to pass the day and reach tomorrow, I was trying to pass twelve and reach thirteen, pass epilepsy and reach health. These feelings isolated myself into a position where I streamlined every piece of help, not just for content use, but primarily who it was from. This, admittedly strange and verging on outright rude attitude, meant that on a normal occasion the only advice that I would take in was from my siblings, my parents and my consultant. I would like to thank these people for their never ending stream of help, and apologise to everyone who gave me help, and thank them for their unrelenting clicking and scrolling; the support I received was integral to overcoming the rocky passage that I went through.

Moving on, the main purpose of this blog is not for me to unload the individualities of when I was ill, it is for me to try and show you that you, or whoever is reading this for someone with epilepsy, will experience incredible lows, days where you don’t want to get out of bed, or opening the front door seems like opening Pandora’s box. But I want to reassure you that you will find the strength to shrug off the tears, straighten your back and face the adversity with a tough chin, and most of all that when you have a good day, you will be the one with the largest smile and the loudest laugh.

I hope that I can inspire you to overcome what lies in front of you and be as strong as you can, but not to get disheartened when this just isn’t possible, because you are not alone.

Have a good day,

Rob.

Here’s a quote that I thought seemed particularly apt to the message of this blog. I agree with most of it, you might like it, you might hate it, I thought that I’d share it.

Goals are a means to an end, not the ultimate purpose of our lives. They are simply a tool to concentrate our focus and move us in a direction. The only reason we really pursue goals is to cause ourselves to expand and grow. Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it’s who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfillment.  – Anthony Robbins