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Epilepsy Blog Relay™: Epilepsy, depression and a little creativity

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This post is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay™ which will run from November 1 through November 30. Follow along and add comments to posts that inspire you!

Having a medical condition is difficult, some individuals deal with their condition better than others, but the struggle is generally still there. Many people find it hard to accept a diagnosis of epilepsy. For my blog relay this month I would like to help people to deal with their low moments.

Epilepsy and Depression

One in three individuals with Epilepsy and associated conditions will experience some form of depression/Anxiety and other mental illnesses during their lifetime. I have spoken to many people who have Epilepsy, or live with somebody who has Epilepsy and they have addressed the fact that they struggle to be motivated to even get out of bed in the morning to face the day, and having depression can be a risk for actually developing epilepsy.

I have noticed over the years that the most common causes of Depression for Epilepsy patients are:

  • Uncontrolled seizures
  • Being afraid of having seizures (This was a big problem for me and my family)
  • Having social or relationship or family problems
  • Having side-effects from epilepsy medicines

Getting creative

Although it is hard to focus on the good when you’re struggling with day to day life, it has been proven that a lot of people have a link between sadness and creativity, so people who are low, depressed or anxious, are also the most creative and artistic. Over the years after my diagnosis in 2006, I turned to Poetry, Photography, Graphic design and Music. Before my diagnosis, I was the least creative and unmotivated person in my family. This topic does not just apply to those with a medical condition, and I hope this reaches individuals out there who are struggling with a mental illness that is not necessarily caused by a condition.
Before I lead to my main distraction technique for Depression and Anxiety, here are a few things I recommend you try to do when you’re feeling your worst.
  • Design a journal. In my past posts about helping your child deal with their condition, I touched on the topic of designing a journal, my tip was to go out and pick out a journal they like, or go to the arts and crafts shop and find a blank artists journal and create a cover using magazine images, wallpaper samples, or glitter. Now this isn’t just a tip for young people, I do this myself and I’m 21, so adults can do this too! Having a safe place to express your thoughts and feelings always helps clear your mind. Evaluating your art can help you pinpoint aspects of your life you may want to change.
Other Healing arts can include:
  • Drawing, painting, and sculpting: try and see if any local clubs in your area offer art therapy, if they don’t, or if you’d rather do it alone, then go and buy some arts and crafts to let our your emotions, you don’t have to be good at drawing to create something spectacular, any art is art.
  • Dance: Dance your heart out, even if you have two left feet!
  • Drama therapy: I have tried this myself and I loved it. Experiment with acting, this helps self-discovery and expression-I even got the chance to star in a tv show back in 2009
  • Music therapy: music is proven to help with anxiety and depression, and discovering new artists is the greatest feeling

shortbread living wellBaking to heal and raise awareness

Now, this year for awareness month, I chose to do some baking. This was a big deal for me but I really felt I had achieved something when I finished. I chose to make some shortbread stars and circles with some purple flowers to represent Epilepsy. Lavender (or purple) is the international colour for Epilepsy, this is because the lavender flower is often related to the isolation and loneliness that people living with the condition often feel.
I made these biscuits to share with my friends and family, not only did they taste great, but it gave me the chance to share some facts and stories about Epilepsy whilst we sat and enjoyed my biscuits!
If you like baking, or if you’d like to give it a try, here is the recipe I went for; you can do this anytime, not just this month!

The Recipe

The Ingredients

150g (5oz) plain flour

100g (3½oz) butter

50g (2oz) vanilla sugar

The vanilla sugar (icing)

1 vanilla pod

225g (8oz) caster sugar (superfine sugar)

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F), fan oven 160°C (325°F). Place the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together to form crumbs. Add the vanilla sugar and mix to form a dough (you don’t have to use vanilla, you can use almost any flavouring, orange, strawberry, whatever you like!). Roll out the dough. Using a star-shaped cutter (or a shape of your choice), cut out stars and place on a baking tray lined with nonstick baking paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes until just golden. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Leave to cool and enjoy!

When help is needed

Even though self help is great, please bear in mind other treatments out there for your depression or associated illnesses. I have added some helplines, but please see your doctor or GP if you think you or a loved one is dealing with a mental illness.

In the UK

Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90  | Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week

Rethink |  0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 10am-2pm)

In the US

https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/

https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/NAMI-HelpLine

In Canada

http://www.mentalhealthhelpline.ca/

http://www.cmha.bc.ca/get-informed/local-resources

Next

NEXT UP: Be sure to check out the next post on November 25 at ToteMan.net for more on Epilepsy Awareness. For the full schedule of bloggers visit livingwellwithepilepsy.com/epilepsy-blog-relay.

Follow Emily Lawrence (Nee Donoghue):

Contributing Writer

25 yr old monthly columnist on Living Well with Epilepsy. Full time worker of NHS England. Emily's Perspective is a snapshot of what life is like living with Epilepsy. I was diagnosed with Epilepsy at the age of 10. Based in UK.