no visible trauma: on invisible disabilities and MFA programs

Karrie higgins

My second residency in my MFA program, I had a seizure smack-dab in the middle of workshop, right in front of my future new mentor. I don’t know what happened afterward, but I remember thinking I had blown it, that from now on, I would be that girl.

The main reason I had applied to a low-residency program was to avoid seizures getting in the way of my studies. During my undergrad days, I had them all the time. Between poor nutrition due to poverty, lack of sleep due to working many jobs, squeezing in homework at night, constant stress, fluorescent lighting in almost every classroom, and lack of access to neurological care, I didn’t stand a chance. With a low-residency program, I could set my own hours (except during residencies), never miss class, and have seizures under the radar. Nobody would have to know.

I never counted on…

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