I don’t know if you are aware that today is International Imstaringatyou syndrome awareness day today. Imstaringatyou syndrome or IS for short is a condition that there is very little information available about in the public domain. Surprisingly, IS is fairly common and the numbers of patients being diagnosed is on the up. IS is a neurological condition that mainly effects the eyes by leaving the sufferer with very narrow field of vision, in the more severe cases this narrowing of the field of vision can be accompanied a strong, uncontrollable urge to giggle and/or point. Imstaringatyou syndrome was first diagnosed in 1954 in Athens, Greece by Dr Yiannis Imstaringatyou in a 37 year old man named Angelos Epithemiou after many years of suffering abuse from fellow fishermen. Famous IS sufferers include actor Jack Nicholson, Andrew Ridgley (Wham), and local boy, singer Pete Doherty (pictured) and Labour polititan Andy Burnham.
During the last few days I have been acutely aware of how common IS has become in recent years, within the last few days I have seen several cases of IS including two painfully severe cases in a young brother and sister on the bus home on Friday, I felt a great empathy for both the two siblings and their parents, who on a day to day basis have to deal with the extreme symptoms that this disabling condition has. Whilst on the bus the two children were hit with a severe IS attack, staring, pointing, uncontrollable giggles, it must be difficult for their parents to know the difference between the IS symptoms and what could be perceived as rudeness towards adults that may appear to be a bit different, rather like myself. It must be difficult for the children prior to diagnosis where it is very common for children to be chastised for the outward symptoms of an IS attack. Today alone I have encountered 2 cases of IS, the first was a middle aged man, again he was on the bus, not as severe as the two siblings but he did suffer quite a prolonged IS attack that endured throughout his bus journey and carried on until he reached the library. The second case I encountered today was a young woman, around 20 years of age whilst I was browsing in the lingerie department in a Birmingham department store, her symptoms were almost as severe as the children on the bus, the whole scenario of shopping for lingerie must have been incredibly stressful for her whilst suffering a IS attack.
So please, as it’s International Imstaringatyou Awareness Day, please think about these people young and old and how this devastating condition affects their lives.