At 8 yrs old I was diagnosed with epilepsy and shortly after that I was also diagnosed with a benign tumour on my brain which as you can imagine was very distressing for me and my family.
At 13 yrs old I was admitted to hospital to have brain surgery and the tumour removed. All this stress had a massive impact on my education where I was bullied a lot because I would have frequent seizures and had a big scar on my head, pupils would call me names like freak and weirdo on a daily basis. After a while this really started to get to me and affect my education and day to day life at school. Eventually I was kicked out because it had affected my behaviour so much.
I started college at 16 but because my epilepsy was so bad I had to be put on long term leave. At this point I really started to give up, as at this time I was also diagnosed with another tumour and my world started to fall apart a little more. I couldn’t work why my seizures were so bad, sometimes up to 10 a day. All I could do was sit at home and do nothing for months on end which made me feel so lazy and worthless which in the end made me feel very low.
Around this time I bumped into Justin, one of the workers at the Abingdon Bridge, and he said why don’t you pop down the Bridge and we can get an action plan together and get some structure into my life. We set up weekly meetings where we put together a plan of healthy activities and looked into work I maybe able to do. We set up a doctor's appointment so Justin could come along and check what activities were safe for me to do. I really wanted to do some training and get fitter in the gym. The doctor said this would be fine as long as I didn’t lift heavy weights, so I was delighted with this. Then we had a look at my diet and tweaked it so it was healthier. Then I hit the gym, which I loved, but unfortunately I had a seizure at the gym and Justin had to phone paramedics, and it was decided that because of health and safety for myself and others I could no longer use the gym. This just felt like another door was slammed in my face and I thought "well that’s that again", but Justin never gave up on me and suggested we train at a local field doing lots of running and punch bag work which I really enjoy and I’ve never felt fitter. We are also looking into voluntary work until my epilepsy is under better control.
All in all If I didn’t have the help and support of the Bridge I don’t know where I'd be; what I’m trying to say is that no matter what life throws at you with the right support you can have a good quality of life so make the first move and pick up the phone.
*Name and image have been changed to protect identity.