Wednesday 22 February 2012

The importance of not being alone

It's sometimes difficult to balance the idea of someone with Epilepsy who is capable, strong, employable, an inspiration etc, with the awareness that needs to be done around the impact that medication can have on individuals.
As if having to deal with Epilepsy itself isn't enough, a common, although by no means the most common side effect of Anti-Epileptic Medication, is depression. It doesn't fit well with the positive PR image of people with Epilepsy, but the thing about depression and behavioural changes as a result of medication is that there needs to be important awareness of it.

It's difficult for young people especially, to be self aware enough to know they have depression, a lot of the time this is the case for adults too. So it takes people around them to help and support them to making sure something can be done to address it. There is a very simple reason why this is so important.

Nobody should ever feel they should take their own life because they feel alone.

As a parent or a partner, even a son or daughter, a gradual change in behaviour may not just be a bad month, PMT, a change of job or school, it could be something as simple as the medication a person takes to make them better, resulting is side effects that make them feel even worse.

I once spoke to someone about their Epilepsy medication and they described how "they'd rather just have the Epilepsy, than be on their medication". Undoubtedly, if you are trying to affect the brain, the side effects of doing that could result in other issues.
But no-one should feel afraid to say, "I want to change my medication" to their doctor.

The other thing people should know is that they are not alone. I'm not ashamed to say I have Epilepsy, because when my seizures were uncontrolled or my doctor suggested new medication to me, there were places I could go within the Epilepsy community for advice, as a sounding board and for support.

I just hope that the wise heads I met through community groups, facebook or help forums and the advice they gave me, is something I can pass on.
You're never alone, there's 50 million of us in the world and with technology as it is these days, there will always be somewhere for you to go and share your experience, seek advice and ultimately feel like you're not the only person going through what you are.

Anyone can isolate themselves if they need calm, but it's knowing the support is there if you need it that is the comfort. Even for people who are caring for individuals with Epilepsy, there is somewhere for you to go too.

So we're not alone after all, we never were and we never will be.

So if in doubt - just ask.
(Even if you are just asking Google to tell you where you need to look!)

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