Childhood struggles: How epilepsy tore my family apart

Credit: Liz Ives

An epilepsy sufferer who was told she had the “devil” inside her by her own family has called for more awareness of the condition.

Liz Ives, 44, from Blackpool, and has been dealing with epilepsy since she was two.

Although Liz, who was born two months premature, was diagnosed with the condition as a toddler, her parents didn’t agree with the doctors’ diagnosis.

They insisted that it was not medical but was the “devil” and “it would be something that would go away.”

Liz’s family was Catholic, which made it hard for her to deal with the condition because they felt God was punishing for some reason.

Epilepsy tore her family apart, and this impacted her mental health as a result.

Purple Day logo Credit: purpleday.org

As a child, she would come home from school and tell her mum she had had another turn, and say she had another ‘turn’.

Her mum would tell her to “pray” and “go to church.” She thought this was a problem which could be dealt with through God.

She suffered seizures throughout her childhood but when she reached 16 she moved in to her own bedsit – only for the seizures to increase.

Liz said: “I went to the doctors to find out, and of course they turned around to me and said, it’s epilepsy.

“I was like oh, what’s that? I had no idea what he was talking about. I then went to the library to find out more.”

Contact with her parents ended when she was diagnosed.

The condition continued to impact her life, and made her worry about facing difficulties in her life, including impacting her marriage. The dread of not driving; unable to work, to live a normal life. 

She has insisted that there needs to be more of an education of all disabilities, not only epilepsy.

Liz added: “A subject like PSHE would be a perfect opportunity to discuss, especially hidden disabilities.”

Purple Day is a day which celebrates epilepsy, and it takes place this year on March 26. It’s a day which people are encouraged to wear purple, and the purple ribbon is associated to the day.

If you want to contribute to Epilepsy Action, you can donate £5 by texting PURPLE to 70500. This applies to the UK only. For more information regarding the charity, visit, epilepsy.org.uk/purple or call 0113 210 8800.