An Arlington woman is to appear on a BBC documentary to tell her story about living with epilepsy.
Amy Sheratt will feature on BBC Three’s Epilepsy and Me as part of a series called Defying The Label, which tells compelling, untold stories that reveal a glimpse of life as a young, disabled person.
The 25-year-old has epilepsy, learning difficulties and a metabolic disorder called ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, or OCT, whereby she lacks enzymes that break down proteins. The condition means that if she eats more than 30g of protein a day, she gets very ill, so her diet has to be regulated at all times.
As a baby, she suffered a stroke due to this condition, resulting in weaknesses on the left side of her body. Every day, Amy must take 62 different tablets to control her illnesses.
For the past three years, Amy has been studying at St Piers, a specialist college run by Young Epilepsy. At their graduation ceremony in July, she was named Student of the Year. She said: “I didn’t suffer from epilepsy until the age of 10. In a way, I felt like it wasn’t fair. I have a lovely brother who has no special needs at all. I see him doing things by himself and being independent and I wish I could do those things. I can’t really be alone.”
Amy, who experiences complex partial seizures and absences, added: “When I have these they’re really out of the blue. Mostly when it’s happening, the feeling is like what you get when you’re fast asleep in bed and you’re in another world. You say things and do things that you never remember doing. It’s like having experiences in a dream-like state.
“Sometimes they make me do the weirdest things, like one time I was reading a book and I ripped a page out of it. Once I fell into a lake after bird watching with my dad.
“One of the hardest things about my epilepsy is that I can’t do things on my own. If I want to build on my independence, I can’t. Sometimes all I want is a bit of time to myself.”
Raising awareness through the documentary was important for Amy, but she admits it wasn’t always easy. She said: “I loved the filming for the documentary, however I got very emotional when I watched myself having a seizure.”
Amy’s next move is to The Meath Epilepsy Trust in Godalming, close to her East Sussex home. She hopes to find work in a gallery as she is passionate about art. She said:“Anything that involves creativity I love, I would rather make stuff than buy it. I’m really hoping to get a job in the art gallery and I’m really positive about the future.”
Amy’s mum, Christina Sherratt, said: “Amy’s epilepsy makes her very vulnerable. It’s like a computer switching off when she has a seizure, you can’t move her. She is quite incredible, considering what she has to deal with. For me, her condition is a frustration. People can be very unkind. We always try to concentrate on what we can do, not on what we can’t. The triggers of Amy’s seizures can be tiredness, excitement or nervousness. When we were asked to film, we were a bit unsure, but there is so little out thereabout epilepsy. There are many different types, it can be scary.”
Amy’s story will be told on Epilepsy and Me, due to air on BBC Three on Monday, August 10 at 9pm.
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