Twelve years on, as National Epilepsy Week (18th-24th May) approaches, I still think about the tragic loss of two of my close friends to the condition and am grateful for the comfort I found in writing during what was a very difficult period in my life.
At the time of losing two of my best friends to epilepsy, one in 1990 and then another in 1992, I knew very little about epilepsy, nor did I realise that the condition would impact my life in such a profound way. Losing two people who played significant roles in my life in quick succession was a real shock to the system and gave me a real 'reality check' on how fragile life actually is. It also made me realise that we don't always have the time we think we do and that we are all guilty of delaying actions, decisions and ambitions, thinking we'll get round to them 'another day'.
I think we are all guilty of taking life for granted sometimes and just forgetting how fortunate we really are and I was determined that my grief for my friends should be put to some sort of positive use.
I had always found comfort in writing and began penning my first book A Dance in Desert as I worked through my grief. Alongside my writing, I also became an accredited volunteer for an epilepsy charity and set to work getting my two fledgling businesses up and running.
A Dance in the Desert was my way of dealing with the loss of my friends in a way which gave my grief a sense of purpose and helped me to ensure that their legacy lived on through my writing. I also decided that a portion of the proceeds from any sales of the book would be donated to Epilepsy Action. It funds their valuable helpline, so that others living with epilepsy can have access to vital support that my friends didn't have at the time.
It is scary to think that epilepsy can strike the old or young and at any time.
According to Epilepsy Action, there are currently 600,000 people across the UK living with epilepsy. National Epilepsy Week will take place 18-24 May, 2014, so if you are able, please do considering supporting the charitable work being done by the likes of Epilepsy Action.