My guiding family supported me when I discovered I had epilepsy

For Katie, Guide Leader, the space Girlguiding gave her to talk freely when she found out she had epilepsy made a huge difference

My unit helped me realise that having epilepsy doesn't change me or make me any different. The support I got was overwhelming.

I've been in guiding since I was seven years old. I was a Brownie, a Guide, a member of The Senior Section and now I'm a Leader. I've always been close to my Leaders (pictured) and we're really good friends. I've recently started helping at a unit in Sheffield, which is very welcoming.

I was scared when I first developed epilepsy

I first developed epilepsy in my second year of university. I remember going really dizzy and the next thing I knew I was on the floor, with people around me telling me I'd had a seizure. After being taken to the hospital to have tests done, they told me I had epilepsy.

It was scary because I didn't know how to cope with it, and at first I was nervous about telling people. I didn't know how to explain to friends I'd known for years how I had developed epilepsy, because I didn't know myself. And I didn't know how to tell people I had just met because I didn't want them to judge me or not want to be near me in case 'anything' happened.

Guiding was a place to talk

Some people did react badly which made me feel self-conscious, but my Leaders and my unit made me feel really comfortable talking about it. We did Go For It! Five Senses to learn how different people are affected by things around them. It was fun, the girls learned from it and they got to understand what was happening to me.

The support I got was overwhelming. It felt nice that I could talk to people. Also, because I have a fear of hospitals, my Leader offered to come with me and keep me calm. My unit helped me realise that having epilepsy doesn't change me or make me any different.

Raising awareness for epilepsy

It's been almost one year since I had my first seizure and I've learned a lot. Most of all, I now know that no matter what, I can rely on the guiding community. Being in Girlguiding means I always have someone to talk to who will help me through difficult times.

Now I'm planning ways to raise awareness of epilepsy. As a fun way to fundraise with the girls in my unit, I'm going to do a sponsored 24-hour space hopper event, which involves a sleepover, an all-nighter and all the girls taking it in turns to space hop.

Girlguiding is for all girls

It's really important all girls feel supported and welcomed when they join Girlguiding. Find out what we're doing to include everyone.