A Moray man was forced to have two brain surgeries this year after being diagnosed with a debilitating disease.
Steven Smith, 33, who has lived in the region for six years, suffers from chiari malformation, a condition in which brain tissue extends into your spinal canal.
It can cause severe headaches and poor coordination and balance problems and often goes undiagnosed.
Mr Smith found out he had it in 2017 after showing those increasingly worsening symptoms that he thought were as a result of his spina bifida condition.
However, after undergoing an MRI, it was discovered he had chiari malformation, and had suffered from it since he was born.
Since his diagnosis, his life has been negatively affected with the condition forcing him to quit his career as a carer and contemplate suicide.
He said: “Being diagnosed has affected my life massively. Every aspect has been affected. I used to work as a carer/support worker, working with people with learning difficulties and elderly people but as my symptoms got worse I was forced to leave my job.
“I loved doing it but I realised I couldn’t look after these people properly and didn’t want to potentially harm them as my symptoms got worse and I struggled to concentrate and suffered memory problems.”
Mr Smith has also underwent two brain surgeries so far this year in a bid to lessen the severity of his symptoms. Unfortunately, they did not work and he is currently waiting for another operation in the hope it solves his problems.
Chiara malformation is an incurable condition, however efforts can be made to lessen its effects on sufferers. It is also more common in women than men.
Mr Smith wants to raise awareness of the condition in an attempt to reassure others out there with it that they are not alone.
He said: “I want to raise awareness as when I was first diagnosed I knew nothing about the condition and felt lonely and isolated about it until I found a group on Facebook.
“Speaking to others with chiara helped as it means you are not the only person in world suffering in that way. Facebook groups like Chiara by Charmary have helped me massively and I want to promote that.”