March 26 is Purple Day, an international grassroots initiative to increase awareness about epilepsy worldwide.
In the UK, 600,000 people have epilepsy – that is 1 in every 103 people – and around 87 people are diagnosed with the condition here every single day.
There are around 40 different types of seizure and a person may have more than one type.
If you don’t have a friend or family member with epilepsy you might not know what it means to live with the condition.
Today we wanted to share a story with you about Charlie who is 17 and living with epilepsy.
Charlie is your average 17 year old; she likes fashion, dancing and spending time with her family and friends. To anyone that wasn’t close to Charlie you wouldn’t know that she was different from any other teenager of her age.
The thing about Charlie is that she has epilepsy. She was diagnosed when she was just 8 so she’s never known life without the condition.
When she was younger she found it really difficult and embarrassing to talk to anyone about her epilepsy, fearing other children at school might make fun of her and not want to be her friend.
Charlie’s form of epilepsy means she has generalised absence seizures where her eyes tend to flicker and she’ll be unconscious for a few seconds. Other people might not even realise they are happening. She also tends to feel more tired than her friends so can’t always do what they do and misses out. Charlie’s memory is also affected makes taking exams and getting a job two huge challenges.
Few people realise that epilepsy can affect you in many other ways than just the seizures which can range in size and frequency and are not always controlled effectively with drugs.
It’s sometimes difficult for people to also realise the impact that having this neurological condition has on people’s everyday lives and their mental health.
Although Charlie has been coping with her epilepsy for most of her life she still experiences anxiety about what this means for her future. To the outside world you would think that she was a positive and bubbly teen.
To meet her she is happy and funny, confident and able to talk to anyone with ease. However she doesn’t always feel like this and wants to help others who are experiencing the same worries as her.
Charlie’s family are a huge support, and being able to share how she is feeling with them makes a huge difference. She strongly believes that have family and friends you can talk to makes such a big difference.
Charlie is growing and trying to find herself, just like any other teen, and is determined not to be defined by her epilepsy. It is just one element of who she is.
P.s Charlie has just started writing a blog about her experiences and hopes that this will help others in her position. If you would like to follow Charlie then please click here: http://charliee99.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1