What Friends Are For

Why Julia and Imy are always looking out for each other

Imy Gosling and Julia Gargan have been best friends since they were at primary school together.

“I joined the school after everyone else and from day one, Imy looked after me – we really bonded,” recalls Julia. “We lived very close by and really grew up together.”

But being close also meant that Julia witnessed the challenges that Imy faced when she developed epilepsy as a teenager.

Imy and Julia

First seizure

Imy had her first seizure at 15 and was diagnosed with epilepsy a year later. In spite of trying many different medications, she still experiences seizures every six to eight weeks, and often more frequently. It can often mean putting her life on hold.

“A year ago, I was unable to take up a post abroad because I had had multiple seizures when I caught covid,” says Imy.

It is disappointments such as this that have inspired Julia to raise money for the Epilepsy Society.

Julia is in training to run in the Vienna Marathon on 22 April and Imy will be in the crowd to cheer her on.

Reuinted in Vienna

Imy works for the Foreign Office and Julia is a trainee solicitor which means that they are unable to see each other as often as they used to. But, by coincidence, Imy is about to take up a new four-year post in Vienna with the OSCE – the Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe - so the friends will be reunited before the race.

“It is very hard watching your friend coping with epilepsy when you are young,” explains Julia. “Imy is so intelligent and has such an amazing career but she has also had to face and overcome many hurdles because of her epilepsy. She has often had to put plans on hold, or go home from uni because of her seizures. Not being able to take up a foreign post at the same time as her contemporaries was tough.

“I also see the challenges that women with epilepsy like Imy face when they want to start planning a family and have to check that they are on the right drugs for them and their baby. These are challenges which women just shouldn’t have to face.

“This will be the second run I have done for the Epilepsy Society. The first one was the Great North Run and now I am really looking forward to the Vienna Marathon, although I have a hip injury so I hope that won’t be a problem.

Funding hope

Julia and Imy are both wearing Epilepsy society t-shirts and taking a break while out for a run in the countryside

“I hope that the money I raise will support research into epilepsy which will lead to better treatments for people with epilepsy. I also hope that research will lead to safer medications during pregnancy.”

Imy is looking forward to cheering Julia on from the side lines. “I will have only been in Vienna for a week and won’t have started work so won’t know anyone,” she says.

“It will be the first time I have lived on my own. Up until now I have lived with my sister and have always had friends and family around me in London. Most of my seizures happen at night but I also have absences during the day.

“I have had a couple of seizures while working at the Foreign Office. One of the seizures was at the top of a small flight of stairs so I ended up quite bruised. Both times, the first aiders called an ambulance, just to be on the safe side.

“I am glad I will be in Vienna to cheer Julia on. I really hope that the money raised will help with research into epilepsy. It would be so good if people were able to be given the right drug for their epilepsy from the start, so that they don’t have keep switching between medications which can take a long time and be very stressful.

“I would also like to see more research into the risks around some of the medications during pregnancy.”

You can support Julia as she runs the Vienna Marathon here.

Jamie's story

Jamie Thomson, 39, a political risk analyst and father to a 16-month-old baby, explains why he is planning to donate his brain to the Epilepsy Society Brain and Tissue Bank at the end of his life.