Column: Turning a life-changing epilepsy diagnosis to hope

Paul Milton and Heidi Griffin at a Young Epilepsy event in Dolphin Leisure Centre - picture courtesy and copyright of Paul Milton Photography
Paul Milton and Heidi Griffin at a Young Epilepsy event in Dolphin Leisure Centre - picture courtesy and copyright of Paul Milton Photography

Epilepsy is something close to my heart I was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of five whilst Heidi was diagnosed later in life. This is her story.

It’s easy typing the words out but in reality talking about epilepsy can be a painful and a hard subject to approach.

Some prefer as a life choice not to bring the subject up, or mention epilepsy encase of stigma, or for other reasons. Some prefer to keep it quiet and literally put it to the back of their minds, while some people prefer to state out right that they have epilepsy.

I like to support charities which are close to my heart the moment Heidi mentioned young epilepsy I was glad to help. When she told me her story and what she had gone through the similarities run true, a lot of the same things happened to me happened to Heidi.

Heidi Griffin was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2007 at the age of 17; she’s now 25. From meeting her and talking to her she comes across as a very confident and bright individual and a pleasure to meet, a person with a lot of potential. I spoke to Heidi about her experiences where she explained, what she felt like when the doctors made their diagnosis.

She commented: “It felt, like my whole world had come crashing down when the consultant said those nine words ‘I am diagnosing you with a form of epilepsy!’. I suddenly realised what this meant, being 17 years old and that I had to end my college course of which I was doing cabin crew, as a result I could no longer fly long hall on a regular basis, this also meant I could not learn to drive, and the penultimate I was put on long term sick because my epilepsy wasn’t under control.

“This made me feel very different from everyone else I that I knew! I felt scared and alone and that my career path was out the window.”

Heidi went on to add: “I decided that things needed to change, I’m not the only epileptic person out there, and I was considerably lucky. Some people have it a lot worse than me, so I have decided to jump out of an air plane to raise as much money as possible for this fantastic charity called Young Epilepsy. I will be doing my skydive on August 5 2015 in Maidstone, but I need your help to raise a minimum of £395 before this date.”

Listening to Heidi and talking to her and the experiences she has gone through, the main thing which was nice to gain from this charity event so far was to talk about epilepsy.

Whilst helping Heidi with the fund raising event at the Dolphin Leisure Centre Haywards Heath we both met a young mum with her son and her son was recently diagnosed with epilepsy she found it difficult to talk to anyone and find anyone willing to talk to her about epilepsy.

I was discussing with Heidi how both of us had similar experiences where you say to someone you’re epileptic and they take the subtle step back. Not everyone is so judgmental but sadly I have experienced it, it’s something people do on an un-subconscious level a subtle move back a good couple of inches. “It’s sad to say but it’s true in my experience, sadly because it’s something they cannot see, they can’t understand it, which can be slightly unnerving.

I was mentioning and talking to Heidi where “I had met and come across people afraid to go to the doctors encase it was epilepsy which is quite sad.”

Please support Heidi in this brilliant fundraising event and good cause, and it’s been a pleasure to meet a person with community spirit!

If you wish to donate please contact Heidi at the Dolphin Leisure Centre Haywards Heath.