When I was a boy I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I think everyone here is familiar with the worse case spectacle. From the perspective of mine I don't remember many seizures. I'd find myself somewhere I shouldn't be. I'd get mystery bruises. I'd strangers focusing on me, telling me where I am, or if they're not there I wake up soemewhere feeling deeply, mortally alone. Some smaller seizures I remember. I remembered that I didn't remember, that I was pulled out of conversation, somewhere, to nothing. Can you imagine what it's like to find your time punctuated by blips of nothingness? Maybe if you read nasty comments online long enough. That's like a half-way point. Half-way, because it's a place. Youtube comments, for example. But epilepsy is a time-snatch, a trip to nowhere. I've taken to calling the feel of a seizure as body-jacking.
In October 2014 I saw film and photos by Emma Campbell: knees and rain and rivers, dark buildings and traffic "made sitting by windows during journeys to abortion clinics in Liverpool and London", on public transport. I remembered these same sights from my travels: broke, sweating, hauling baggage alone. We've all been there, by choice.
Epilepsy is brought on by stressers, tiredness and anxiety: illnesses a pregnant woman suffers. Northern Ireland's laws on abortion reinforce these pressures. They create an exile more susceptible to missed connections, lost tickets or bad accommodation. In the time it would take me to recover from a seizure, a pregnant woman would sit in alien hostels, surrounded by strangers. This is body-jacking at it's most damning: denying a range of healthcare to create refugees. It's one person forcing their body on another and infection by lobbyists who insist on life versus choice, often at all costs.
Our only hope, as I have found, is to speak out and educate people on the myths and the necessities. To talk about our experiences and humanise something that isn't a 'topical issue' but something very personal. Then I would say that as I'm probably possessed by the devil.
"Those women should not have to leave home or have to leave Northern Ireland and they should not be made to feel like criminals, having to hide their identities. They should not be ostracised by society." - Joan Carson, Northern Ireland Assembly, 20 June 2000.