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Purple Day: Man with epilepsy encourages others to speak out

A charity says people with epilepsy fear being discriminated against because of the condition.

Almost 700 people with the condition took part in a survey carried out by Epilepsy Action, which found:

  • 19% people with epilepsy said they feel uncomfortable or very uncomfortable talking about their epilepsy with friends;
  • 14% feel uncomfortable or very uncomfortable talking about their epilepsy even with their family;
  • 25% feel uncomfortable talking to work colleagues.

“It’s frustrating to hear that many people with epilepsy feel embarrassed talking about it, and worry that they will be discriminated against if they do. Epilepsy is certainly nothing to be embarrassed about and these findings highlight why days like Purple Day are so important to those living with epilepsy. The more we talk about epilepsy, the more we can challenge common misconceptions about it and offer the general public a clearer idea of what epilepsy is."

– Philip Lee, Chief Executive of Epilepsy Action

In this blog, Craig Fairclough from Nottingham writes about why he's supporting Purple Day, a global day of action to raise awareness about epilepsy.

Craig, who works for East Midlands Ambulance Service, says he used to hide his epilepsy because he was worried that people would be scared of him or would ignore him. Now, he's urging people to speak out.

Craig Fairclough Credit: Epilepsy Action

I am supporting Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness because I was born with epilepsy but I was not diagnosed until I was 22 years old after I had joined the Royal Navy and been trained as a Medic.

During my training, I was taught about the different types of epilepsy and then realised I had a condition known as petit mal epilepsy, also known as Complex Partial Seizures.

I feel it is very important to raise awareness of epilepsy. I went through school and all of my childhood suffering with epilepsy and blanking out during classes with the teachers thinking I was day dreaming. This meant I missed important moments during classes.

At the age of 20, I joined the Royal Navy and after training, I self-diagnosed myself but initially kept quiet about it because I knew that I could be medically discharged easily.

After a year, I confessed to having epilepsy as I considered that I could be endangering other peoples' lives.

I now speak openly and honestly about my condition, both to those around me and on social media.

For me, it is also important to raise awareness so other people are aware and take appropriate action. For example, if I am having a seizure, their knowing can prevent me from having an accident.

My seizures can sometimes look like I’m in a drunken stupor and it would be great if everyone could recognise it as a seizure and know how to help. I have told myself that I will not be ashamed of my condition. Speaking out has really helped my confidence and my safety.

These are the views of Craig Fairclough and do not necessarily reflect those of ITV News.