Mullinahone’s Chris O’Brien is currently studying Epilepsy Ireland’s flagship course Training For Success at IT Sligo.
A 23-year-old Tipperary man with epilepsy is “living life to the fullest” after a difficult ten years.
Mullinahone’s Chris O’Brien lost his dream apprenticeship and was told he would have to take some time off the road because of the central nervous system disorder, but he is staying positive and driving on with his future plans to become a salesman.
“I only had seizures when I was a asleep at first but when I turned 20 I started having them during the day. What upset me the most was when I was told I had to stop driving and had to sell the car. I have to be seizure free for a year before I can drive again. It’s not ideal always looking for bus and train times and relying on lifts,” Chris tells The Nationalist.
“I was an apprentice plumber two years ago, and at the end of the first year the foremen called me in and said ‘you didn’t tell me you had epilepsy’ even though I put it on the form at the start. He said I was a liability and let me go. He said nobody in the trade would ever take me on and that it would be best I get out of the trade. It was a real knock back because I loved being a plumber and it’s what I had always set my mind on doing,” he continues.
Chris was left “shocked” after being diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 13. “I was down in Irish camp and went to bed one night and when I woke up there were a load of people around me. I had a seizure in my sleep and was brought to hospital where the doctor said it was triggered by tiredness and that it was a once off. But it happened again and again. I had to go to Dublin for an MRI and that’s when I was told I had epilepsy. It was a shock because I didn’t know what I could and couldn't do,” Chris admits.
But learning to cope with epilepsy over the past decade has made Chris a stronger person, and he is thankful to his family and friends for their support. He is currently studying Epilepsy Ireland’s flagship course Training For Success at IT Sligo, and plans to pursue a degree in Marketing and Sales in the future.
“I still play hurling and football in Sligo and go for pints with the lads. Even in secondary school at Presentation Ballingarry people knew I had it and never treated me differently. My friends have never said ‘we can't hang around with you because you have epilepsy’,” Chris highlights.
Monday 12th February marks World Epilepsy Day, and Chris is encouraging people struggling to deal with an epilepsy diagnosis to stay positive. “My main advice to people who are just after being diagnosed is to not let it hold them back or get them down. Hang around with people who are positive, and if people don't want to hang around with you because you have epilepsy then they are not your real friends. If you want to play sport do it, unless a doctor tells you not to. And as the saying goes, live life to the fullest,” he adds.