Many people that are unfamiliar first-hand with the neurological condition epilepsy, believe that a person who has epilepsy or seizures, solely experience the event, recovers, returns to taking anti-seizure medication(s), perhaps a doctors visit here and there, and life goes on.
When it comes to epilepsy and seizures, the effects of the diagnosis soar beyond simply physical. An epilepsy diagnosis is a life altering event that can have lasting emotional, spiritual, psychological, and even social effects.
Effects of an Epilepsy Diagnosis
These added effects can also extend to and effect loving spouses, family members, caregivers and friends unintentionally.
In what way does an epilepsy diagnosis effect the well-being of each?
Emotionally, an epilepsy diagnosis can be frightening if you have never heard of the term “epilepsy” or “seizure disorder” before. In knowing and accepting that a serious medical condition is here and now, it can most certainly be heartbreaking. The feeling of unworthiness and suicidal ideation or actions have been known to take hold of some. For some, there may be moments of reflection on the past, before epilepsy appeared in the picture. When reflection has come to an end and it’s back to reality, worry may creep in. Worry for a significant other, family, self, or the future.
Spiritually, an epilepsy diagnosis can have many different roads pointing in many different directions. Some cling onto God, faith and hope even stronger than they ever have before. Some find that they may be confused, or lose their faith and hope completely.
An epilepsy diagnosis can rob a person of their independence to do certain tasks or activities they once took part in before becoming diagnosed. Psychologically, a diagnosis has the potential to cause some people to act impulsively, become introverted, sensitive, depressed, or develop anxiety.
Depression affects up to 5 in 10 people with epilepsy at some time.
Socially, an epilepsy diagnosis means that there are certain activities that you can no longer participate in if it has the potential to trigger seizure activity. Activities such as drinking alcohol, exposing yourself to certain lighting (if photosensitive, eg. strobe lights), or staying up late hours of the night. This means having to say “no” not only to your friends but to yourself as well, even when you don’t feel like it. Some friendships suffer because of this but a true and caring friend understands the change in activity for health sake.
Being aware that living with epilepsy goes beyond the physical effects, helps significant others, family, friends and caregivers have a greater understanding of the effects of the condition and how they can provide the best help that they can.
How Can Supporters Offer Help?
- Offer an attentive listening ear.
- Be uplifting, encourage positive thinking and draw from faith-based motivation.
- Frequently check up on your significant other, family member, friend and/or caregiver. Visit, call, text or message them to ensure they are doing good and to show you care.
- Invite your significant other, family member, friend and/or caregiver to join in activities that are safe for them. Encourage them to explore new activities that are safe and fun!
Living with epilepsy is not simply experiencing the event, recovering, returning to taking anti-seizure medication(s), perhaps a doctors visit here and there, and life goes on. That is merely the cover of the book, if you will.
To truly have an understanding of a persons walk with an epilepsy diagnosis, you must open the book and take a look within.
There are signs that can be seen a mile away. There are also hidden signs that no one sees because they can be buried deep within the person, sometimes masked by a smile.
The more attentive, loving and caring we all can be to those living with epilepsy, the more courageous, faith-filled, strong individuals there will be.
In what ways does epilepsy effect you, beyond physically? How can the support of a significant other, family, friends and/or caregiver help?