Why I am climbing Ben Nevis to raise money for Epilepsy Scotland


Our fantastic supporter Tammy tells us why she has signed up to the Winter Ben Nevis Trek in March 2022 and her experiences of being diagnosed with epilepsy as a teenager.

I am thrilled to be taking part in this challenge to reach the summit of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, in winter!

Why? Because I am one of the 55,000 people in Scotland affected by epilepsy and I refuse to let that stop me from ticking adventures off my bucket list.

To all the epilepsy warriors out there who rely on the support provided by this amazing charity, this is for you.


Being diagnosed with epilepsy

I was diagnosed with secondary generalised tonic-clonic seizures when I was 14. What happens during this type of seizure can vary from person to person.

For me it starts with a prolonged feeling of deja vu, everything around me is happening in slow motion and I can’t speak.

During this time I know that I am going to lose consciousness but there’s nothing I can do to stop it. While unconscious my body jerks, my breathing is ragged and sometimes my lips go blue. I have no memory of what happens here.

When I come round I am very disorientated, I struggle to speak and I need to sleep.

It’s not simply a case of ‘seizure over, get up and go’ though, full recovery from a seizure for me can take anything from four hours to four days.

Ben Nevis

With medication my seizures are now pretty well controlled, however, this has not always been the case for me.

My teens were troubled with recurring seizures and hospital admissions.

My twenties were relatively seizure free, I even got my drivers license, and the first half of my thirties, well they were a different story. I was in and out of hospital with recurring seizures.

I was prescribed so many different medications, none of which helped.

One of my scariest experiences with epilepsy happened seven years ago, doctors had to put me into a medically induced coma to stop a prolonged seizure (status epilepticus.)

Even though, I don’t remember the events of that day, I know that my family always will, and I know how scared they were at the time, not knowing if I was going to be ok. Thankfully this has never happened again since.


Personal achievements

I am grateful for every day I don’t have a seizure. I have always been determined not to let the worry of having a seizure stop me from doing the things I love; things like running, hiking, and even surfing!

One of my biggest personal achievements was running the 2017 London Marathon.

I remember watching the marathon every year on TV with my dad when I was younger and thinking to myself one day that will be me crossing the finish line, and when I did it, I did it with a smile.

I bagged my first munro, Ben Lomond, in my teens, and to this day I still remember that overwhelming feeling of joy (and relief) when reaching the summit.

You never forget the feeling of standing on top of a mountain, definitely one of my favourite places to be.

If you would like to share your experiences of living with epilepsy, please email David Coates our Communications Officer on dcoates@epilepsyscotland.org.uk or call 0141 427 4911.