A KEIGHLEY woman with epilepsy has spoken of the challenges she faces living with the condition.
University student Alice Turner said she had always preferred to remain private about her health.
But she now recognised the importance of talking publicly about epilepsy to help change public attitudes.
Alice was speaking in the wake of a survey which found that six out of ten people with epilepsy had experienced feelings of loneliness.
Respondents said they also suffered high levels of stress, low mood and anxiety.
And more than three quarters felt that having epilepsy had a negative impact on their ability to take part in certain events and activities.
Alice, 22, had her first seizure – during her sleep – when she was ten years old.
But it wasn’t until she was 17 that she was officially diagnosed with tonic clonic epilepsy.
Her seizures tend to occur when she is asleep – she has only ever had three while awake.
Alice is currently taking a high dose of medication and has been seizure-free for two years, but the condition has a major impact on her life.
“At first the diagnosis was really hard on me and my family so it took a while for us to adjust and tell everyone,” she said.
“It was difficult being diagnosed during school and starting to take the medication, but I had really good friends and they never treated me any differently.
“The main problem I had was with drinking because I was diagnosed at the time when everyone started going out and having parties. I also had to take my passport with me everywhere for ID as I couldn’t get a driving licence.
“I still chose to drink as I enjoy going out with friends and I didn’t want to let epilepsy take over my social life in that way. But it has been hard for me not to drink as much as other people and start drinking water on a night out without having to tell people why all the time.”
She added: “One of the hardest things I find is telling people about my epilepsy and when I should bring it up in a new friendship with someone.
“I don’t want people to act differently towards me or feel sorry for me so get quite anxious about that.
“However when I reflect on the people I have told, I have never had this kind of reaction from them. Everyone is really interested and has either never met someone with epilepsy before or someone close to them in their family has got it. So once I get past the initial nervousness about telling someone, it is completely fine and I have never felt isolated or treated differently.
“I do worry a lot about having another seizure and think that would really impact badly on how I do things at the moment.”
The survey was carried out by Epilepsy Action, which is backing awareness-raising Purple Day on Sunday, March 26.