As I have mentioned in previous posts, a few years ago I was feeling a little isolated with regards to my epilepsy.
In a bid to see how achievable a full and exciting life can be, I decided to Google celebrities who had been dealt the same hand as myself. I was a little reluctant to do so, afraid of what I may find. Many people with epilepsy have a certain stigma attached to them, in that they may not be as intelligent as others – which we all know is a myth, or worse, that epilepsy has connections with madness, an even older myth.
I have overheard conversations of people discussing how they believe epilepsy is connected with insanity. It really hurts to listen to it, knowing that they couldn’t be more wrong. This was one of the reasons that I was a little afraid to research this topic. I was expecting a tiny list, where celebrities of the past were too afraid to be open about their diagnosis.
You can only imagine my amazement when I discovered the full list of famous people with epilepsy throughout history. It’s a list that includes names of leaders, inventors, writers, artists and musicians. Many of whom I had admired all my life.
I have compiled a list of their names and here it is, dating from 500BC to the present day:
- Pythagoras (570BC – 495BC)
- Socrates (470BC – 399BC)
- Aristotle (384BC – 322BC)
- Alexander the Great (356BC – 323BC)
- Julius Caesar (100BC – 44BC)
- Alfred the Great (849 – 899)
- Michelangelo (1475 – 1519)
- Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
- Martin Luther (1483-1546)
- Charles V of Spain (1500 – 1558)
- Louis XIII of France (1601 – 1643)
- Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727)
- George Frederick Handel (1685 – 1759)
- Peter the Great (1672 – 1725)
- James Madison (1751 – 1836) 4th U.S. President in 1816 potentially he had epilepsy suffering from attacks which were similar, Madison wrote that he had “a constitutional tendency to sudden attacks somewhat resembling epilepsy which suspended all intellectual function…. They continued throughout my life with prolonged intensity”
- Paul I Russia (1754 – 1801)
- Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832)
- Nicolo Paganini (1782 – 1840)
- Lord Byron (1788 – 1824)
- Hector Berlioz (1803 – 1869)
- Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)
- Robert Schuman (1810 – 1856)
- Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870)
- Fyoder Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky (1821 – 1881)
- Lewis Carroll (1832 – 1898)
- Alfred Nobel (1833 – 1896)
- Peter Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893)
- Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
- Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)
- Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976)
- Bud Abbott (1895 – 1974)
- George Gershwin (1898 – 1937)
- Truman Capote (1924 – 1984)
- Richard Burton (1925 – 1984)
- Neil Young (1945-)
- Danny Glover (1947-) Actor
- Margaux Hemmingway (1955-1996)
- Prince (1958-2016)
- Hugo Weaving (1960-)
- Susan Boyle (1961-)
- Lil Wayne (1982-)
- Dai Greene (1986-)
Next time when you hear someone say something a little in insensitive or you have a day where you feel that nothing is possible, just remember this list of people who achieved amazing things despite their medical issues and ignored what others must have said to them.
Some used their experiences to their advantages and incorporated it into their writing giving us famous and now beloved works.
I do not doubt that throughout history having epilepsy must have been hugely concerning especially without the medical knowledge and medication that we have today.
This only in-grains my belief that if they could tackle life and still achieve their dreams, so can we.
Thanks for reading,