Wrote a thing for the Herald magazine on Friday. It’s the one Olaf Tyransen writes every two weeks and they alternate with some head from the media. They asked me and I figured that Brainwave needed the 500 words more than I did 🙂
It’s weird being asked to write a column after all these years. Have always wanted to do one (why do you think I started this all those posts ago?) and here it is for posterity…
Hi. Unlike quite a lot of these columns where a “meeja” figure like myself writes a few hundred fluff words about how great they are and “mentions” stuff they have going on I’ll only be including two gratuitous references to things I’m involved in and, just for you, I’ll signpost both of them heavily just in case you’re someone who, rightly so, believes that commerce and journalism are just far too heavily linked these days.
I’ve had a year that’s seen me get the show I’ve always wanted, working with three people I can genuinely call a family, been nominated for a Meteor award and seen the impending arrival of my third little one at home. But, instead of all that, I thought I’d write about how the voluntary work I’ve done this year has been easily been the most life changing thing that’s happened to me. Maybe it’ll give you ideas just before Christmas?
Epilepsy. There, see? It’s a magic word. Already quite a fair percentage of you have turned the page fairly swiftly to see just what beauty tips Rosanna Davison has for Christmas… Or whatever. Having said that, you’re still here. So well done you!
It’s one of the reasons why, when Brainwave put out a call for a public figure with epilepsy (or whose family had been affected by it) to be their patron at the end of last year, I thought I’d volunteer. The idea was to give the condition a public face, someone people could point to and say, “See yer man? He’s one of us, successful in his chosen field and… well… relatively normal!”
I’ve had epilepsy since I was a teenager and volunteered fully expecting that, say, Brian O’Driscoll would have a third cousin twice removed who had the condition and that I’d get the standard “Dear Mr O’Shea, thank you for your interest. However…” letter. Turns out that, not for the first time in my life, I was the only one with my hand up.
I ended up being accepted with open arms in Brainwave as the only applicant for the job and in March Ryan T was gracious enough to give me time to come on his Radio 1 show to talk about it for the first time. I did interviews, spoke to the European Parliament in Brussels and at the Brainwave national conference, have met people from all over the country with epilepsy and helped put 2 and 2 together for plug number one – Pugwash have been gracious enough to donate the proceeds from their brilliant Christmas single Tinsel & Marzipan to our charity. It’s out now. And brilliant. Did I say that before?
It’s not all wonderful, of course – I had a seizure in August and I’m not legally allowed drive for 12 months (that may not seem like much but try imagining it in your everyday life) but the point of all this, if I have any, is that bringing any kind of profile to epilepsy in Ireland has been the wonderful, fulfilling, defining part of my 2006.
And here’s gratuitous plug number 2: