Hi, I'm Keiran
Photosensitive Epilepsy is a small part of who I am, it's part of my day-to-day life. It's something that, for a long time, I felt had a huge, negative impact on almost every aspect of my social life. Particularly from the ages of 18-21, most of us want to go to nightclubs, to cinemas, to festivals, drink alcohol and stay out partying till the early hours - none of this was (or is) possible for me. How on earth would I find someone to understand and, dare I say, embrace all that?
Also, I always had huge career ambitions growing up and I worried about the 66% of people diagnosed with Epilepsy who were unemployed (according to the office for national statistics). I knew that my triggers, such as stress and lack of sleep, didn't exactly go hand in hand with being a high-flying businessman.
I had my 1st seizure, a grand mal tonic clonic aged 11. It came out of nowhere, while playing on my new Playstation at Christmas, but looking back there were clear warning signs something wasn't right. I was taken to hospital and this was chalked up as a one off, probably caused by hormone changes as I was going through puberty.
Miraculously, I went 4 years without another seizure. Then I suffered a 2nd grand mal, tonic clonic, aged 15. Again, I was playing on the Playstation late at night and hadn't heeded the warning signs (feeling hot, twitching, dull headache).
At this point, I was given an EEG (Electroencephalogram), diagnosed with Photosensitive Epilepsy and prescribed daily medication. Three seizure-free years later, my consultant advised to trial coming off the medication. Unfortunately, this didn't work and I had a 3rd grand mal, tonic-clonic on my 21st birthday.
This was a bad seizure as I stopped breathing, and I was immediately placed back on medication, which I've been on ever since. I'm now 30 and seizure free for a number of years, thankfully. The medication has controlled my seizures, though it's not without it's annoying but manageable side effects.
That said, I consider myself to be incredibly lucky. Not only to have to have my seizures under control, but to have such a supportive family and a loving wife. My career aspirations haven't suffered either, I joined a recruitment business and was promoted several times into senior management. In 2016, I even took the step to start my own recruitment business, Hiring Wizard, which is now thriving across 3 offices and employs more than 20 staff.
To anyone recently diagnosed, I'd say learn as much as you can about your condition, protect yourself as much as you can, but don't let the condition define you and who you are. You are not a victim and epilepsy is only a small part of you. I always remember the message one of my consultants told me:
Epilepsy can ruin your day, don't let it ruin your life!