Wanted: Epilepsy stars
Epilepsy sufferers and support groups will be fully aware that last week was National Epilepsy Week, but I am not convinced that 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, earlier this year, Catherine Zeta Jones admitted to having bipolar disorder and suddenly every women’s magazine was running an article on the condition. The profile of other conditions, such as cancer, eating disorders, mental health problems and addictions, have been raised by a celebrity admitting to suffering from them. So where are all the famous epileptics – the actors, sportsmen, singers, authors, artists and television stars?
Before researching this blog, I could not name one celebrity sufferer off of the top of my head – I have never heard a star talk about epilepsy. When I looked at Wikipedia I found that there were household names that have suffered from the condition:
Danny Glover (actor), Rik Mayall (comedian), Neil Young (singer), Prince (singer), Florence Griffith Joyner (athlete), Jonty Rhodes (cricketer) and Max Clifford (PR guru). The list also included historic names such as Socates (Greek philosopher), Julius Caesar (Roman military leader), Napoleon (French military leader) and Joan of Arc.
However, according to the statistics one in 131 people in the UK alone have epilepsy, so surely there should be more celebrities with the condition. Why are they not talking about it?
After giving this much thought I came up with these reasons: Firstly that epilepsy sufferers are not 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 so discriminative that people suffering with epilepsy are being held back and stopped from making the big time. Or maybe it’s just fait.
Whatever the reason is, we need it to change, to make people more aware of what epilepsy is. I have a friend who had to have a kidney transplant and people are happy to talk to him about his prognosis and treatment. For me epilepsy is a conversation killer, people do not know what to say and I end up talking at them. I believe that if a celebrity spoke up for epilepsy it would raise awareness hugely and, if that star actually suffered from the condition, it could help inspire a whole generation of future epileptic celebrities.