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Shadows share their experiences about the 'Me and My Shadow' scheme

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1 April 2019

We launched our 'Me and My Shadow' scheme on International Women's Day (8 March) which provided opportunities for women with epilepsy to shadow women in a range of different careers for a day. It also aimed to build confidence and ambition in women with epilepsy and encouraged them to think big. Following the scheme's success this year, a few of the shadows tell us about their experiences.

Ankita Guchait

Ankita is 23 years old and attends Kingston University. She took part in the scheme on 8th March and shadowed Deborah Wheeler at the North Middlesex NHS Trust.

Why did you decide to apply for 'Me and My Shadow?

It felt like an opportunity to share my own experience and have the ability to speak up about one's disability, which I never did in the last nine years. I was always reminded of negative consequences of sharing my own experience like it has always happened when you are raised in a traditional culture due to stigma and misconceptions.

Has your epilepsy affected other careers in the past?

In a way it did because as a kid I was never provided with disability accommodations in school because my school did not have a clear understanding of epilepsy, which is very common in traditional cultures. Furthermore, I was prevented from participating in extracurricular activities as people did not know how to take care of someone having a seizure.

How did you feel when you were told that your placement would be at North Middlesex NHS Trust?

I was very excited because as an aspiring neuropsychologist, I love working in a hospital setting in various countries. Hence, when I was told that I will be shadowing the Deborah Wheeler who is the Director of Nursing at North Middlesex NHS Trust, I was so happy.

How far along are you in your career?

I am currently a psychology postgraduate candidate at the Kingston University. Living through epilepsy has made me very passionate to do research in epilepsy. Furthermore, I see myself working towards a PhD in Neuropsychology in the next few years.

Do you hope to have a career in a medical industry?

Yes, of course. Being misdiagnosed for about 13 years of my life, I have spent a good amount of time in and out of hospitals, trying different drugs, and going through several neuroimaging tests. Now as a mental health professional, I find it very rewarding when I work at hospitals and clinics as it gives me an opportunity to give back to the community.

What is the main thing that you would like to get out of this experience?

Proudly share your experience and that it does not limit my abilities to attain my goals.

Jess O'Sullivan

Jess is 22 years old and attends the University of Derby. She took part in the scheme on 7th March and shadowed one of our trustees, Kate Alcock, at the Saracens Multi-Academy Trust which is a school based in London.

Why did you decide to apply for 'Me and My Shadow?    

I saw the scheme advertised on the Epilepsy Society Instagram page, and just applied on the off chance because I thought it looked like an interesting opportunity to maybe get some work experience in a field I was interested in.

Has your epilepsy affected other careers in the past?

I'm currently a student and so haven't yet really had to deal with being in the workplace whilst still suffering with seizures. I had to stay on an extra year at college after the diagnosis and studying whilst still having regular seizures was quite difficult at times. I wasn't able to focus on my studies and seizures left me feeling quite exhausted a lot of the time. But since they have been under control with medication, I have been enjoying my studies and been able to work a part time job alongside university.

How did you feel when you were told you placement would be at the Saracens Academy?

I thought it would be a good opportunity to get an insight into what goes on behind the scenes in the running of a school, and also how lessons were taught and how teachers dealt with difficult situations.

How far along are you in your career?

I am currently still studying at university, but hold down a part time job at a supermarket alongside my studies.

Do you hope to have a career in education?

I am not totally certain of the career path I'd like to pursue just yet, but as I've always loved learning and being in school, I am quite keen to look into a career in education.

What is the main thing you would like to get out of this experience?

I'd just like to have an idea of what it would actually be like to work in a school and to teach and work with children. I think it was also really interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes and the difficulties that are faced in the day-to-day running of a school.

More information

To read about Nafees' experience with the 'Me and My Shadow' scheme, please click here.