Hannah and Harriet’s story

Published: March 04 2024
Last updated: March 04 2024

Hannah Murphy has been given this month’s Epilepsy Star award for being an incredible source of support to her daughter, Harriet Clare, who nominated her for the award. Harriet shares their story.

“I am 28 years old and was diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy at age 3. I have suffered from frequent absence, myoclonic and tonic clonic seizures throughout my life. As anyone who has lived with epilepsy a long time knows, it can be a debilitating condition to cope with in every way – especially in childhood.

“I faced daily struggles at school and home during my teenage years and then had to navigate hospital appointments, emergencies, work, applying for benefits and moving out with my partner. But my mum has always been by my side to support me.

“I have two amazing sisters who have witnessed the reality of what it’s like to live with a loved one with epilepsy. My mum was a single parent to three children. I can’t deny that I didn’t push one or two of my mum’s buttons a few times but no matter the situation, she was always there for all of us.

“Being a 90s baby, support for us then was often hard to reach and school was very difficult for me. Coping with bullying, a general lack of understanding towards hidden disabilities from teachers and being pulled aside from certain school activities was difficult. As I got older, one of the main things I struggled with was watching my friends get their first jobs, driving and moving out. At that point, I just saw everything as a total lack of independence and found it really hard to stay positive about anything.

“However, my mum refused to watch me in this situation. She did everything she could to help me reach out to others, boost my spirits, help me gain confidence and show me that it’s not all doom and gloom.

“Five years ago, I met my best friend and love of my life. My mum has always treated him as part of the family, especially after seeing how he looks after me and supports me in any way he can. She was even happier to know that he was the perfect person for me to start my own life with and helped us both in every way she could with moving out and applying for benefits as a couple.

“Once I moved out, I definitely realised the reality of not having my mum and sisters right next to me. It was hard for the first few weeks but my partner was right by my side, we adopted our kitty, and my mum and sisters are always just on the other end of the phone.

“I had to resign from my dream job in childcare nearly four years ago due to my health and the frequency of my seizures. I dropped into a rather bad place again as the independence of work has always been so important to me. But did mum ever let that get me down? No.

"She was there in every way, making us both dinner, taking us on days out, and even treating us with her delicious cakes."
Harriet - Hannah's daughter

“It may take a long time for some people to come to terms with the reality of living with any disability, and there are always going to be bumps along the road. But if it wasn’t for my amazing mother showing me that I’m a true fighter, and how important it is to stay strong and give support to others, I honestly don’t know what I would do.

“Epilepsy is such a complex condition and is different for every person, but that positivity is key.”

Accepting the award, Hannah said:

“I feel very privileged to have been nominated for this award by my daughter. I don’t think I have ever received such an award before and so was surprised when she told me that it had been accepted. I have always been so close with my daughter, and it feels amazing knowing that she felt the need to get in touch with Epilepsy Action to share our story. It also feels great to know that others will be able to read our story and see how far we have come over the years, despite all the struggles that living with epilepsy brings.”