People with epilepsy and support groups will be fully aware that last week was National Epilepsy Week, but I am not convinced the message reached the majority of the British public. When I consider why that is, for me it boils down to one thing, where are the celebrities with epilepsy?
For example, Prince William and Prince Harry discuss mental health issues, and suddenly the issue is thrust into the public light. The profile of other conditions, such as cancer, dementia, and eating disorders, have been raised by a celebrity opening up about suffering from them. So where are all the famous people with epilepsy – the actors, singers, authors, artists, television stars?
When you look at Wikipedia there a several household names that have or have had the condition in the past. These include: Danny Glover (actor), Neil Young (singer), Martin Kemp (actor/singer), Jonty Rhodes (cricketer), Leon Legge (footballer), Susan Boyle (singer), Dai Greene (athlete), and Matt Crooks (footballer). But surely there are more?
The one person who successful raised awareness of the condition and the impact it has on people’s lives was media personality Katie Hopkins, but she has become tight-lipped on the subject since having successful brain surgery.
Statistics reveal that one in 104 people in the UK have epilepsy, so surely there should be more celebrities with the condition, why are they not talking about it?
After giving it much thought I came up with these reasons: Firstly that epilepsy sufferers are not that talented enough to gain celebrity status, which I do NOT believe for a second. Secondly, that there are famous people with the condition, but for whatever reason they are choosing to hide it. Thirdly, society is discriminative that people with the condition are being held back and stopped from making the big time.
Whatever the reason is, we need it to change, to make people more aware of what epilepsy is. For me epilepsy is a conversation killer – people do not know what to say and I end up talking at them. I believe if a celebrity spoke up about epilepsy it would raise awareness hugely and would help inspire a whole generation of future of celebrities with the condition.