My name is Kevin, I’m 56 years old married with two boys, one nearly 17 and the other 14. I have been suffering with various illnesses now for about 15 years, ranging from cancer to FND problems. During the last 7 years my health has deteriorated significantly with the last two being particularly bad. I have spent many months in and out of hospitals from London to Bristol. I already had 7 confirmed and diagnosed ailments, then as if that wasn’t enough, just to be greedy, I was then told I have FND. In my case, my brain is copying one of my conditions, a type of Autonomic Dysfunction called Vaso-Vagal syncope, where my blood pressure drops and I pass out. ( I also pass out due to another type of AD called POTS). My first reaction to this new diagnosis was not too good, after all, how could my brain possibly mimic my illness in that way? I found it really difficult to understand how that was possible and was it even accurate? I have since spent 4 weeks in the Burden Unit in Southmead hospital where I was assessed. It turned out I do indeed have FND with around about 30% of my collapses being functional in nature. They gave me some tips on how to distinguish between functional losses of consciousness and those caused by AD and although I could not stop either from happening, it was still a help to have things explained properly. The most beneficial thing about it all was meeting other people with life changing disabilities and the knowledge that I am not alone in mine. Although I have a supportive and loving family, they can’t really understand how it feels for ME. This has changed my life and I have met some great people some of whom I consider dear friends. We share our issues about how we approach and get through life and before I met the group one of the worst things was the feeling of isolation. I felt totally on my own, no one could possibly be feeling like me, but there are hundreds if not thousands of us about. Being able to speak to others for advice or comfort is a great thing and my life, although still very difficult, has become so much richer from the benefit of knowing and being able to speak to people like me at any time of the day. Having over 7 years experience of being disabled and know how isolating and challenging that can be, I feel I have a lot to offer. I have advice I can offer based on my own experiences from being in and out of hospital, PIP, and everyday challenges a disabled person faces. Don’t feel alone or isolated, you’re not! Don’t think you’re the only one that understands, you’re not! There are plenty of us about. A year or so after the onset of my symptoms, astonishing as it seems, I was abandoned by my mum, dad, brothers and sister, none of whom took any time to research or try to understand my illness. I also lost friends so I really do know what it is like to be isolated. Please come along to one of our monthly meetings, you won’t be disappointed and in fact it could be the best thing you ever do. Having people to share your story with, people with empathy and understanding of your plight. We meet once a month in various wheelchair friendly venues throughout Bristol and currently have people attending from further afield such as South Glos, W-S-M and Forest of Dean. We really would like to help as many people as we can, so please come along. Follow our Bristol FND website or Twitter page for updates on meetings.