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MJ Lifestyle Issue 01 Digital

CHELSEA LEYLAND THE DJ /

CHELSEA LEYLAND THE DJ / ACTIVIST GOES AGAINST THE GRAIN TO DEFY THE STIGMA, RAISE AWARENESS, AND LIVE AN EXTRA-ORDINARY LIFE AS SHE CHRONICLES HER MISSION TO CHANGE THE LAWS AND ULTIMATELY SAVE HER SISTER IN HER UPCOMING DOCUMENTARY ‘Separating the Strains’. Interview Brittney Mesica Creative Direction Dane Diseth Photography Amanda Bjorn Styling Naomi Zinns Ruffled Cami and Short Set by For Love and Lemons ISSUE 01 70

NYC based, British DJ, Chelsea Leyland, is not going to let her condition define her. After being diagnosed with a form of epilepsy in her early teens and recently ending a tumultuous relationship with western medicine in exchange for CBD oil, Chelsea has become an activist in the Cannabis community and an advocate for epilepsy and medical marijuana use. Fueled by a lust for life and determination to bring her sister, who suffers from a more severe form of epilepsy, access to Cannabis treatment in the UK, Chelsea is using her platform in the fashion and art world to speak out and raise awareness of the benefits of treating neurological disorders with CBD, the non-psychoactive compound found in Cannabis. “I was 15 years old when I was diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy,” Chelsea told MJ. “I was away at a boarding school in England. I had been extremely overtired and was experiencing light brain blackouts and hand jerks. It was a difficult moment because my doctor wasn’t able to identify the epilepsy at first. My older sister has a severe type of epilepsy that requires fulltime care, so the doctor assumed my symptoms were psychosomatic, stemming from my sister’s condition and the anxiety that I had surrounding that. I was then referred to a neurologist who within five minutes diagnosed me with JME. Being a teen is hard enough as it is with everything you’re learning about yourself and trying to fit in, and then being diagnosed—that was very difficult.” JME or Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy is an idiopathic generalized epileptic syndrome characterized by myoclonic jerks, generalized tonic-clonic seizures, and sometimes absence seizures (brief, sudden lapses of consciousness). Chelsea was put on various anticonvulsant medications for 16 years before discovering CBD oil. The pharmaceuticals she had been prescribed, like Keppra, an AED (anti-epileptic drug), would target one issue while resulting in a slew of other serious side effects. “For people diagnosed with epilepsy you are prescribed these medications and you don’t have a choice. You either risk hurting yourself or you take the medication, and that is how it is presented to you,” said Chelsea. “I struggled with many side effects from these medications ranging from severe anxiety, rage, and heart palpitations to depression and thoughts of suicide. I was emotionally unstable and had trouble focusing. My parents told me that my personality changed after taking the anticonvulsant drugs and I became very aggressive. It was hard to see at the time what was the medicine and what was me.” Despite living with her condition, Chelsea was not about to give up her dreams and at 19 she moved to New York City to attend the Lee Strasburg Theatre and Film Institute for acting. Shortly after her move she was invited to DJ at the famous Shark Attack Sounds 4th of July party in Montauk, hosted by photographer, Ben Watts and Milk Studio’s cofounder, Mazdack Rassi. “In the first few months of my move to New York I was with Ben at his house and I was putting music on an iPod when he asked me to DJ the party. I told him that I didn’t know how to DJ. He said to just bring two ipods and crossfade between them, so that’s what I did and it ended up going great. I owe a lot of credit to my boyfriend at the time. He told me that I should go for it and really learn to properly DJ. Not just the computers, but to learn with the turntables and records to mix and beat match. I began taking classes from a friend and apprenticed under him. I believe my first gig was in a hotel lobby.” From hotel lobby to New York Fashion Week, Chelsea began booking gigs faster than she could prepare and was soon DJing parties for the likes of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Dior, and Coach. With her biggest triggers being stress and lack of sleep, one might find it ironic being an epileptic, jet-setting DJ in New York City, but that never stopped her from pushing forward and embracing the high-speed lifestyle that she had created. 71 @MJLIFESTYLE

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