Beth and Emma's Story
Yoga teacher Emma Turnbull explains how she is raising vital funds for the Epilepsy Society, after their support brought hope of a seizure-free life for her daughter, Beth.
The Turnbull family, like all those affected by epilepsy, have had many difficult challenges over the years.
Beth Turnbull was first diagnosed with epilepsy 15 years ago. After a long struggle to find the right support, she recently started treatment with the Epilepsy Society and their team of expert neurologists.
Beth is now 21 and works as a dispensing assistant in a GP surgery. Working on the frontline during the pandemic has brought its own challenges including an increase in stress-related seizures.
Beth noted how the Epilepsy Society has supported her in recent months.
“It’s been very difficult to find professionals who can give me the expert help I need. Since I first started seeing neurologists at the Epilepsy Society, I feel like my treatment is becoming clearer and I am moving in the right direction.”
Beth’s mum, Emma, has also been pleased to find expert support from the Epilepsy Society.
“ For so many years we have been frustrated with frequently having to start from square one every time we visit a new healthcare professional”, Emma said.
“At times it has been a real struggle to get our voices heard and to make sure a clinician has access to Beth’s records and medical history.
“We have been delighted with the support and expertise provided by the professionals at the Epilepsy Society and we feel at long last as if things are moving forward with Beth’s treatment. This has been a huge relief.
“The care she has received has made such a huge difference to us, we feel she is being heard and that there is hope for her to live a seizure free life!
“And it is not just the neurologists. I’ve also been amazed at the support I’ve received in the past from the Helpline team. As a mum, watching someone you love struggle with epilepsy can be really difficult – it can put a strain on the whole family. It was very reassuring to have someone offer a listening ear.”
For Beth, epilepsy awareness is key. Last June she set up her therealityofepilepsy Instagram account where she seeks to increase understanding of the condition.
“I believe in raising awareness about epilepsy and increasing epilepsy positivity. People with epilepsy can have many challenges, but I think it’s important to show that we are real people behind the statistics. Many people have a stereotypical view of epilepsy and I want to challenge some of those myths.
“Above all, epilepsy is more than just seizures. Of course, seizures can and do happen – and they are frightening – but I feel it’s so important to highlight other aspects, such as the migraines, the insomnia, the anxiety and depression, the enforced lifestyle changes, the side effects of medication and the lack of understanding from the public and even close friends.
“Epilepsy as a condition can be misunderstood by people. I want those who don’t have epilepsy to get a greater understanding of what it is – not just the seizures, but the mental health challenges such as experiencing feelings of anxiety and loneliness. Alongside that, I also want to help other people who have epilepsy to deal with the common challenges we face.”
Emma, a yoga teacher, has been so grateful for the Epilepsy Society’s support that she decided to pour her energy into fundraising for the organisation.
As the UK entered its third national lockdown in early January, Emma made the decision that all fees for her latest mantra chanting course would be donated to the Epilepsy Society – an organisation close to her heart.
Having initially set a target of £100, and later raising it to £250, Emma has been amazed at her clients’ response. Within just two weeks of her JustGiving page going live, £560 has been donated.
“Yoga is one of my great passions”, Emma said. “I’ve been teaching for over 15 years and I felt by encouraging participants in my mantra chanting course to donate to the Epilepsy Society I could play an important role in helping fund research and support into epilepsy.”
For the time being, Emma’s fundraising efforts will continue.
And Beth hopes to manage her epilepsy better with the support of the Epilepsy Society and others.
The Turnbull family have been on a long journey but they are positive about the future.
Epilepsy is not just one condition, but a group of many different 'epilepsies' with one thing in common: a tendency to have seizures that start in the brain.
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