THERE’S something wrong with me.
That was the one-sentence statement which plagued Christine Waterford for the first 14 years of her life.
As a child, Ms Waterford faced constant chastisement from adults, who could not understand why she wasn’t paying attention when she was supposed to.
“On my report card at school they used to say ‘wonderful child if she would stop daydreaming’,” Ms Waterford said.
“They just assumed I wasn’t paying attention … I just thought I was either weird or they just didn’t like me.
“Growing up as a kid I felt alone and different, and I couldn't understand why.”
But one day a teacher witnessed Ms Waterford have a seizure, and she was diagnosed by doctors as having epilepsy.
While the news should have brought clarity, having epilepsy in the 1970s meant nothing but fear.
“At that stage no-one really understood it properly,” Ms Waterford said.
“My parents were frightened by the illness and uncomfortable with it, they didn’t understand.”
Medication that could not control her epilepsy resulted in years of depression.
Ms Waterford attempted to take her own life and being unable to hold down employment contributed to decades of isolation.
But five years ago, everything changed.
A new doctor and medication regime helped Ms Waterford get her epilepsy under control. She is now able to go to the gym everyday and lead an active lifestyle.
But most importantly, Ms Waterford said the diagnosis no longer makes her feel afraid.
“I’ve really only just started to have a life in my late forties,” she said.
“I am now not frightened of it like I was in my younger years. It’s a case of I’ve got it, but I’m not going to let it stop me living.”
The 52-year-old urges anyone with epilepsy to be proactive with management, and members of the popular to step forward and offer help if someone is suffering a seizure. “Just be with them and wait to see what happens when they come out of it,” Ms Waterford said.
Ms Waterford is sharing her story of hope ahead of epilepsy awareness month in November.