emma hobday 600

Meet the make-up artist with Functional Neurological Disorder

By Emma Hobday | 25 March 2022 | Feature, Health & wellbeing

Emma Web Featured Image 1200x800px 2022 03 22t121514.556

Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) charity FND Hope defines FND as a problem with the functioning of the nervous system and how the brain and body send and receive signals. Physical and/or psychological risk factors can cause functional symptoms which include a variety of physical, sensory and cognitive symptoms, such as weakness or paralysis, loss of balance, tremors or difficulty walking, and speech, vision and hearing problems.

Wales based make-up artist Leanne Furley details her experience of FND, how it affects her work, and her advice for other sufferers…

How & when were you diagnosed with FND?

I started experiencing symptoms of FND around five years ago, when I was taken into hospital with stroke-like symptoms. I couldn’t move the left side of my face, my speech was slurred, and I had loss of feeling and movement down the left side of my body.

After having blood tests and scans I was told it wasn’t a stroke but that a cause for my symptoms couldn’t be found, so I was discharged a few days later as I seemed better, even though I was having facial spasms. My health unfortunately didn’t improve, and I started getting migraines that affected my vision, as well as other neurological issues which included memory loss, pins and needles in the left side of my face, and I was still having painful facial spasms.

My symptoms seemed to stabilise for a while thanks to the medication I was prescribed that treated my migraines and spasms, and for a couple of years I was able to get back to normal.

I was finally given the diagnosis of FND in April 2021 when two days after my daughter’s ninth birthday I was rushed into hospital after having multiple convulsive seizures back-to-back that lasted almost an hour. I lost my ability to speak and continued to have seizures while in hospital, with each one leaving me temporarily paralysed. The neurologist diagnosed me with FND & NEAD (Non-Epileptic Attack Disorder).

How has FND impacted you and those around you?

It’s impacted my entire way of life as I still have daily seizures, so both of my children had to be taught how to cope when I have a seizure. I can’t be left alone so I need to have someone with me all the time. My husband works from home so he has been

able to support me with daily tasks, and my children aged 14 and nine are both registered as young carers, and have had to take on a lot of responsibilities to help with my care.

What helps you manage your symptoms?

My family has been a huge help when it comes to support. We try to limit my activity as we have noticed that the more I do, the more seizures I have. With my spasms I also have to be careful that I don’t break things or injure myself so it’s a case of using plastic non-spill cups and having my food cut up for me. Also taking my time and not getting stressed when I have problems speaking helps.

To help with my mobility we have had to put in a stairlift, grab rails and a seat in the shower. My wheelchair also has a harness, lap strap, is anti-tilt and can recline back, so thankfully it is seizure proof.

What has motivated you to forge your new path on social media?

I went through a stage of mourning after getting my diagnosis and it was hard to let go of everything that I had planned for my future. But I was determined to keep going as I wasn’t prepared to give up on having a career in an industry that I am so passionate about.

At first I started creating again purely to prove to myself that I could still pick up a brush, but after a while it became so much more than that. Being creative became like therapy for me; I found it freeing and peaceful. The more I did it, the more I realised that this was something that I could never give up on.

I started posting more and more on social media, and also concentrated on showing the products I was using, writing reviews and interacting with the brands I used, and to my surprise they started taking an interest in my work. I also found that people became genuinely interested in my reviews, and I started to get messages from others that were struggling with their health so I decided to share my journey of how a life with FND doesn’t mean giving up. More recently I have started to film make-up Reels and tutorials showing how I create my looks, and this is something I have really started to enjoy doing.

What are your favourite make-up looks to create?

For many years, I did make-up for bridal clients and created editorial and fashion looks throughout my 14-year career. My personal style has always been quite edgy though – I love creating smoky diffused looks, and I also really enjoy working with bright colours and producing creative and bold make-up looks.

Have you met many other FND sufferers?

I haven’t met anyone in my local area with FND. I have connected with some FND sufferers on social media, but they are in America. I think FND is more widely known in the US, and they also seem to have care available to them there along with neurologists that specialise in FND.

What advice or message do you want to give to others who may be suffering with FND?

You’re not alone in your journey. I know that right now you may be feeling lost but there is help available and others that will understand. Reach out to organisations like FND Action and FND Hope UK as they have fantastic resources available and can put you in touch with support groups in your area. They also offer help & advice for family & friends that are supporting someone with FND too.

Follow Leanne on Instagram.