‘I woke up one morning and half my face collapsed’: Amelia paralysed by facial palsy
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
A Camden woman whose face was left paralysed on one side by a rare palsy has spoken about her experience to help raise awareness of the condition.
Amelia Tearle, 22, who lives in Highgate Road, Kentish Town, recovered from facial palsy two years ago.
The condition causes partial freezing of the muscles on one side of the face, affects more than 100,000 people in the UK, and can be triggered by a viral infection.
Amelia, who moved to Camden for work from her Yorkshire home after graduating from Cambridge University last year, was left unable to close her left eye without using her hand, drink without a straw, sniff or even smile after developing facial palsy.
She said: “I woke up one morning, I took a sip of water from a bottle by my bed and I spilt it all over me.
“I thought it was clumsy, but I didn’t think anything of it, because there was no pain.
“As I went through the day, I realised that things weren’t working properly and half of my face was collapsed and was dropping. I couldn’t move it at all.”
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Charity Facial Palsy UK launched the inaugural Facial Palsy Awareness Week from March 1 to 7 this year.
The awareness week aimed to draw attention to the social, physical and sociological consequences of facial palsy.
Supporters raised money with sponsored hikes at dawn and a Face My Day selfie campaign, which encouraged people to post photos of themselves after shaving off half of their beards, or with make-up on one side of their faces.
The campaign raised around £5,000, which will go towards supporting services such as help lines and local support groups.
At present, there is no nationally-funded research into causes, prevention or treatment of facial palsy.
A recent study conducted by Facial Palsy UK found that patients diagnosed with the condition waited an average of five years before being seen by a specialist unit and over half of patients in the study reported symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Amelia added: “I was uncomfortable with the way people perceived me and uncomfortable with my own identity.
“Outwardly I tried to convince myself that it would get better, but it grinds you down. It looks a bit like a deformity.
“Privately you think, ‘I’m never going to be able to have a boyfriend.’ It’s tough when you think it’s not going to get better.
“It’s not an illness that you are going to die from, so there’s not necessarily the impetus to research it.
“People don’t really appreciate the impact it has on patients.”
For more information about facial palsy, visit facialpalsy.org.uk