Fraser Beattie of Inverurie, is cycling round Scotland later this year to raise money for Scottish Association for Mental Health.
It took 20 years of seizures before Fraser Beattie was finally diagnosed with epilepsy – and now he’s taking on his greatest challenge to spread the word around Scotland.
The 42-year-old order picker from Inverurie first noticed an issue with his health when he was 16, but it was not until 2014 that doctors were able to give him answers.
Despite his health, he’s stayed active and completed marathons in Loch Ness, London and Amsterdam, and even a solo cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats.
And now, he’s set to embark on perhaps his largest challenge yet – travelling the circumference of Scotland raising cash and awareness for charity SAMH (the Scottish Association for Mental Health).
‘There’s still a stigma’
In addition to battling epilepsy throughout his entire adult life, Fraser also contends with other physical and psychological problems as a result of his condition.
This includes functional neurological disorder (FND), which affects how his brain and body send and receive signals.
He explained: “I have several mental health conditions that have come along with being epileptic.
“I’ve also recently been diagnosed with functional neurological disorder. I want to bring mental health awareness to Scotland.
“I understand that lockdown has had an effect on a lot of folk, there’s still a bit of a stigma with it even though folk are more open and aware these days.”
‘It’s put the brakes on certain things’
Fraser has battled epilepsy for 26 years and, while he’s aware his condition isn’t severe as some others, it has still held him back in certain aspects of life.
He said: “I’ve dealt with this basically all my life. It’s not really bad but it has still put the brakes on certain things like career choices.
“I can’t drive and yesterday I had an FND at work and had to step away, so it does play its part basically every day and something I need to be aware of.
“When it comes to the cycling, I’m going to have to push myself but not too far, it’s a balancing act.”
‘You think you are invincible’
Fraser will set out on Le Tour de Fraz on July 23, starting in Aberdeen and pedaling 1,400 miles around the border and coast of Scotland.
He’s hoping to raise cash for SAMH (the Scottish Association for Mental Health) and encourage people he meets along the journey to be more open about their mental wellbeing.
And while he’s been training hard, Fraser admits there is a level of worry and unpredictability because of his epilepsy.
He said: “I know my limits, but if I was to say there wasn’t any anxiety I think I would be lying, but I know if things aren’t feeling right and when to stop and take a minute.
“Epilepsy is a weird one because before a seizure I get an aura, like a little warning that lets me know something is coming.
“So if that were to happen, I know to do something about it. With the past seizures I’ve had, I’ve ignored the warning and just kept going and that’s why I’ve had them.
“When you’re younger, you think that you are invincible, so when I had my last seizure out of the blue at 35, nothing had really triggered it, I wasn’t hit in the head.
“I was just tired and quite stressed out at the time and I remember after it happened I went: ‘Hold on, my brain doesn’t work properly. I need to take this seriously’.”