Anyone seeing Megan Brandon’s horrific black eye would be forgiven for thinking she had been involved in a fight or a victim of abuse.
But the shocking injury was actually caused by Megan suffering an epileptic seizure during the night and hitting her head on the window sill.
Megan, 17, who recently finished a national diploma in children’s care learning and development at Leyland’s Runshaw College and will be beginning at Edge Hill University this month to study primary English education, is now the face of a campaign by Epilepsy Action to challenge people’s perceptions about epilepsy.
The campaign, called What Does Epilepsy Look Like, aims to get people thinking about the condition and how it affects the lives of people who have it.
Megan was diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy at the age of 10 after she had a seizure. Since then, she has gone on to experience a mixture of seizure types including tonic-clonic seizures, myoclonic seizures and absences.
Megan currently takes the medication levetiracetam (Keppra) to control her seizures. She has also made lifestyle adjustments to reduce her exposure to seizure triggers.
Megan, who has around three seizures a year, says: “After a tonic-clonic seizure, I become extremely tired, need to sleep and feel very sick.
“Epilepsy has had a significant impact on me and my lifestyle.
“While I am determined not to let epilepsy stop me from enjoying my life, I am aware of the need to look after my health.”
As she has become responsible for managing her condition, Megan has learned to do thing differently.
She says she takes extra precautions when taking part in activities such as going to gigs and dealing with potentially stressful situations.
Megan also feels that having epilepsy has made her family more protective of her than her siblings.
She explains: “My parents worry that I will go somewhere and experience a seizure and whether the people who I am with will know how to give me the correct first aid.”
Megan first contacted Epilepsy Action to get more advice and information about her condition. She wanted support and advice on how she could help her school friends to understand what epilepsy actually is.
She also wanted to know about driving. Megan has accepted that she has to wait longer than her friends to start learning to drive as she needs to achieve adequate seizure freedom.
The triggers to Megan’s seizures include flashing strobe lights, sunlight, illness and stress.
Megan has experienced injuries that have occurred during seizure – including her black eye.
She describes her biggest achievement as climbing Mount Meru in Tanzania when she was 15. Her friends and family were worried that the exhaustion and change in climate would affect her epilepsy.
However, Megan completed the challenge within three days.
Tonic-clonic seizures, such as those suffered by Megan, are the most common type.
They make the body become stiff while the arms and legs begin twitching.
They normally last for one to three minutes and cause a loss of consciousness.
The person should not be restrained, but steps should be taken to remove harmful objects from nearby and to cushion their head and aid breathing by gently placing them in the recovery position once the seizure has finished.
Megan is very keen to challenge misconceptions about epilepsy and to raise awareness about the potential impact of the condition.
Megan says: “I feel honoured to be part of the national campaign that shows such a serious side to epilepsy.
“I can finally talk about my epilepsy and encourage people to share their stories and to not be ashamed of having a seizure or a physical injury.
“I want to tell people to be proud that they can carry on their lives and not let a condition like epilepsy stop them.”