Beauty Entrepreneur Karen Murrell on Living With Epilepsy: “You Shouldn’t Let Nothing Limit You”

Her beauty brand is an international success, but Karen Murrell has had to deal with migraines and extreme seizures resulting from her epilepsy. Here, she talks to Capsule about her journey to diagnosis, her therapeutic pet Lucy, and why Uber Pet has been a game-changer in helping her – and her business – stay as healthy as possible.

As the founder and CEO of her eponymous line of lipsticks, Karen Murrell is excited to share her life journey with epilepsy. However, she jokes that she doesn’t want to be seen as a guide to managing work / life balance with a disorder because it’s something she’s still working a lot on.

“I’m not perfect at all, because I always get migraines and seizures, so don’t look at me,” she laughs, zooming in on her Auckland office. “People always tell me, ‘Stop, slow down’, so I’m not a good role model.”

While she can sometimes let her work ethic trump her need for rest, Karen says it’s extremely important to show what’s possible when it comes to working around a neurological disorder like epilepsy.

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“The most important thing is that you have to set goals and achieve them because if you don’t you are going to be very ‘bad luck to me.’ You have to live your life, but at some point you also have to rest, get some sleep. “

Karen, 48, was born with epilepsy, after an injury during her birth, but says her journey with epilepsy has been a lifelong process, due to advances and limited knowledge about the brain.

“Even the name of my epilepsy changed from Grand Mal to Tonic-Clonic Seizures,” she says. But the diagnosis and heavy medication given to her from an early age – when Valium was considered a suitable drug of choice for children with epilepsy – never set limits on her life.

“I was very lucky because I come from a family that pushed me forward and was extremely encouraging rather than trying to wrap myself in cotton as the saying goes.”

In her late 30s, Karen received a more complete diagnosis of her epilepsy – including learning that she had had it since birth – and also learned about the important role that stress can play in managing the symptoms of it. neurological disorder.

“I know I need two more hours of sleep on top of what others need, and if I don’t get it, I’ll have a seizure. If I feel high impact stress, I will have a seizure. Karen also suffers from extreme migraines, and things like a movie that features a lot of flickering lights can trigger a migraine or seizure.

Signs that a seizure is imminent include the appearance of an aura effect in his vision and the smell of a peculiar odor. When these signs start, it is a warning that a seizure is imminent and that she should go to bed immediately. “If I don’t lie down, I’ll fall.

This is one of the most serious parts of the whole process and can lead to injuries and concussions if not followed. “I spent a few nights lying on the bathroom floor on my own because I fell there and couldn’t get up, so when I bought a house I made sure he there was nothing around that could fall and hit my head, ”she said.

“You get very good at learning where there are obstacles and you learn what to look for. You learn to fall. You learn self-protection, very quickly ”

It’s a lot to think about but there is nothing to fear, she said. “There are many types of epilepsy, some people have many seizures and others only one. It is something that can be managed well.

But there are two relatively recent introductions that have dramatically improved Karen’s quality of life. One of the consequences of a seizure is that you cannot drive for a while. So when you have epilepsy and regular seizures are a part of life, your transportation options are severely limited.

When Karen launched her brand, she says she must have spent a lot of time on buses or cycling, often feeling ill from the after-effects of a concussion at the time. Uber’s arrival in Aotearoa has been a game-changer, she says.

“My accountant calculated whether or not it was cheaper to drive a car and pay for parking or just just use Uber. For me it was cheaper to use Uber. It was luxury I never knew I needed and it’s a habit I never changed.

But that’s when the game-changing # 2 arrived, his therapy dog ​​Lucy. Scottish Schnauzer, Karen says that Lucy, four, is a total joy and brings her so much happiness. “If I’m sick or about to have a migraine or seizure, she won’t leave me,” says Karen.

“She sits next to my head and stays with me – without even leaving to go to the bathroom – until I’m better.”

However, there weren’t many animal-friendly ways to get Lucy to work with her, so the advent of Uber Pet (where your pets can travel with you in the car) suddenly streamlined everything. “She’s so well trained that she sits perfectly on my lap the entire time,” says Karen. “When you have an illness, you have to deal with a lot of things every day. Having services like Uber Pet removes a problem for you.

“When you have an illness, you have to deal with a lot of things every day. “

While living with epilepsy takes more management to stay healthy, Karen says at no time has it affected what she is able to accomplish at home or at work. “You shouldn’t let anything limit you,” she said.

Having children and running a household was difficult, due to the lack of sleep and the fact that it was happening during a period of business growth, she says, but she made it work on all sides.

She has a happy family and the Karen Murrell brand is an international success story. As she ages, Karen says she’s learned to be a little more careful with herself and to rest when she can.

It is also having a community of friends and loved ones who support you. “I don’t hang out with people who are not good for me; that’s a great thing. Surround yourself with good people who make life easier and more enjoyable.

“For me, it comes down to dealing with stress, looking for a quality connection and downtime, a flexible work environment and a trusted team around me.”

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