A personal trainer in Ottawa is hoping to use exercise to help people suffering seizures.

Shaun Kehoe celebrated his ninth seizure-free year this summer, but that celebration didn't come without a long struggle.

Kehoe found fitness to be an important lifeline while he went through surgeries and treatments for epilepsy.

'I felt like my fatherhood got taken away from me.' - Shaun Kehoe

He's now starting a fitness group for people with epilepsy to help them overcome challenges related to the neurological disease.

Kehoe was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 17 and the disease was debilitating. He couldn't drive or work because of his seizures and when he had a son, he wasn't allowed to be alone with him.

"I felt like my fatherhood got taken away from me," Kehoe said in an interview with CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.

Things were tough for a long time and Kehoe said he fell into a depression.

"I just couldn't figure out where my life was going to go at the time. That was the biggest battle."

Fitness was a motivator

But one thing he could do was work out. A friend of his, who was capable of taking care of him when he had a seizure, worked at a gym and fitness gave Kehoe a reason to get out of the house.

Kehoe said working out is what kept him going. He now hopes to give others who live with epilepsy the kinds of benefits he had from exercise.

"There's a lot more behind fitness than just physical benefits," Kehoe said. "It's very helpful mentally, emotionally. And a lot of people with epilepsy think they're not capable of doing things like this. I've put myself on a personal mission to bust that myth and show them what they can do."

Seizures could still return

While Kehoe's treatments have been successful, he said he knows epilepsy doesn't just disappear. There's always a fear the seizures could return.

"I will never, ever, ever put my guard down," he said. "The last thing I would do is sit back and relax and think my epilepsy is over. It's a part of who I am and it will be there forever."

But over the years Kehoe said he has become stronger.

"If [the seizures] happen again, I can't let [them] take over my life," he said. "I can't let it destroy me."

Shaun Kehoe on Ottawa Morning talking about using exercise in his struggle against epilepsy

With files from CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning