Katie Hopkins criticises River Island 'seize the day' bags for trying to normalise epilepsy: 'Seizures are not part of our narrative of life'

'Good intentions have translated into a language we don't understand'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Katie Hopkins has criticised the ‘seize the day’ slogans on bags being sold through River Island that aim to raise awareness of epilepsy for attempting to normalise life for people living with the condition.

Hopkins spoke of her own experiences with epilepsy for the first time in February, where she described being hospitalised 26 times in nine months.

In a blog for the Huffington Post, the usually acerbic columnist took on a more a serious tone as she discussed the bags, which have been released in conjunction with the Epilepsy Society and Young Epilepsy to mark National Epilepsy Week.

Sarah Vibert, the director of external affairs for the Epilepsy Society, said the ‘seize the day' slogan is intended to be an empowering message for everyone.

But Hopkins claimed there was “something odd” about the bags in her piece. “They don't sit well with me," she wrote.

“I can see the gang at the Epilepsy Society thinking this continues their ambition to make epilepsy mainstream. But good intentions have translated into a language we don't understand.”

Hopkins said people with epilepsy want to own the parts of their lives where seizures are not happening instead of perceiving seizures as “part of our narrative of life”.

"We never view life through the lens of the seizure. We view our lives as all the bits where seizures don't happen and we are being the best we can be. And we wish everyone else could see us the same way."

She described seizures as “ugly” and terrifying for the people who witness them, while reminding readers that epilepsy as a condition is widely misunderstood.

“I know the feeling of coming round, surrounded by people - wholly freaked out because you have just done bonkers stuff with your eyes open even though you weren't behind those eyes to see.

“I've shuddered, flapped, slammed my legs against tables until they bled and dislocated joints - without even breaking into consciousness. And then had to reassure people around me it’s ok. It's nothing. I'm just epileptic. I'm fine.”

“I don't need to be told to seize the day,” she went on. “Hundreds like me do that every day we wake up and find the courage to live life like everyone else in the knowledge we are not.

“We don't need to laugh at ourselves to fit in. That is a defence mechanism and never puts you on the front foot.”

Ms Vibert defended the campaign as a way of encouraging a wider discussion on epilepsy, a condition she said is very common yet rarely talked about.

“Yes the slogan might be bold - but it's got people talking," she said. "And I think the responses to Katie Hopkins' tweet have opened up a very balanced conversation.”

A River Island spokesperson said: “River Island has longstanding relationships with the Epilepsy Society and Young Epilepsy and this is a cause that is very important to us.

"We are very proud supporters of the great work that they do and will continue to help them with raising funds and awareness.”