Camila Coelho Sitting by the Ocean

Camila Coelho is a Brazilian-American beauty entrepreneur, fashion designer and founder of her hit namesake label, the Camila Coelho Collection. Camila was selected as one of the “30 Under 30” by Forbes, a list that honors industry and business entrepreneurs under the age of 30. Born in Brazil, Camila immigrated to Boston when she was 14, and she now lives in Los Angeles with her husband Icaro.

Camila is one of the 710,000 Latinos in the United States living with epilepsy. She is sharing her journey with epilepsy with the world for the first time on International Epilepsy Day on February 10, 2020. 

An Emotional Early Beginning

Camila has lived with epilepsy since she was 9 years old when she had her first seizure. She was playing with her friend and her fingers and hand started closing by themselves. Her friend thought that she was joking. Camila ran to her mom and then fainted. Her parents took her to a neurologist who diagnosed her with epilepsy.

When the seizures kick in, she doesn’t know or remember it, making it much harder for her family, husband and friends. Every seizure she’s had has put her in the hospital and leaves her extremely emotional. Each seizure she had was different.

Daily Management of Epilepsy

Camila takes anti-seizure medication every night that controls her seizures completely. The medication that she takes makes her very sleepy, but it is the one that works for her. She considers herself blessed to have never had a seizure while taking medication. If she doesn’t take it, there is an increased risk of her having a seizure.

Camila does worry that her lifestyle, including travel and sometimes a lack of sleep, could trigger her seizures. She makes sure she eats well, doesn’t stay in the sun too long, and aims for 8-9 hours of sleep at night. Headaches are a sign to her that not everything is quite right, and she makes sure she slows down, rests, and sleeps more when she experiences them.

Following the Care Instructions of Her Doctor

Camila always felt different growing up. When her friends were out drinking, she couldn’t. She started to reject herself and her diagnosis, which led her to stop her anti-seizure medication when she was 17 without telling anyone. Not taking her medication caused her to have a seizure in school. Soon after, she realized that taking medication to keep her safe was nothing compared to what other people go through.

For the past 10 years, she’s taken her medication as prescribed to keep her seizure free during her hectic lifestyle. She follows up with her doctor annually to get blood tests to monitor her medication levels and discuss her options for family planning.

In addition to making her sleepy, her medication can sometimes make her anxious or depressed so she works to manage those feelings so that they don’t overwhelm her. In 2019, Camila needed to take a break and spent 4 weeks with her family in Brazil.

Putting Her Health First

While Camila feels fortunate that her medication controls her seizures, she makes sure to keep up a healthy lifestyle as well. She will often turn down professional engagements because she must put her health first. A lot of these opportunities, such as fashion shows and red carpets, seem very glamorous, but there are times when she can’t physically participate because these events may negatively impact her health.

Camila can’t drink alcohol because it triggers her seizures and it interacts with her medication. People always ask Camila why she doesn’t drink at parties because among her friends in Brazil and America, social drinking is considered a past time. However, she has never had a drink because she fears drinking could put her health and life at risk. She is still passionate about going out dancing and letting loose with her friends, and she knows she can do that without having a drink.

Camila doesn’t let epilepsy stop her from pursuing her dreams or leading an enjoyable life.

Thank you, Camila, for sharing your story for International Epilepsy Day!
Authored By: 
Liz Dueweke MPH
Authored Date: 
02/2020