Well, hello there, 2018.
2017, (what a year!!) was the year I found out my seizures were no longer under control. It was the year I had to re-adjust to my new medications. The year I went on holiday abroad for the first time in my whole 23 years of being on this beautiful earth, and the year I said YES to sharing the rest of my life with my amazing partner, Dan.
I just can’t believe how fast 2017 has gone. It has been a roller coaster of a year. I had to change my shifts around at work to adjust to a life of seizures again, and then switch back again once things got under control. Dealing with change is hard, no matter what your condition, but it seemed to really take its toll on me mentally and physically.
I had to get use to the fact that I will not be allowed to learn to drive again for another year, which really hurts. I know it might not seem big deal to some people, but it gets hard having to rely on other people and public transport. Anyway, the point of this blog post this month is a New Year, a new attitude and way of life.
Self-care in the New Year
A lot of people will be dieting again after all that holiday food, others will have made resolutions to being more healthy and active, others will be wanting to take more care of themselves this year. Epilepsy is varied and the effect on an individual will depend on the type of epilepsy and seizures and the impact on the unique lifestyle of each person.
Self-care and epilepsy
In my case having Epilepsy has depressed me, but it has primarily been the depression that affected my day to day activities. It made me not want to socialize, not want to leave the house to meet people. It made me want to disappear, it made me hate myself. Epilepsy also gave me anxiety, which mixed with depression is unbearable. I thought I was alone in feeling this way but I really wasn’t.
If you have been diagnosed with epilepsy, it is not unusual to feel some anxiety, sadness or concern about the situation. Whatever your age, you will be wondering how best to manage the many challenges you may face. Learning as much as you can about your epilepsy may help you to feel more confident about managing the condition, but also how to manage everyday obstacles.
Here are a few tips for self-care when you are living with epilepsy:
Get some sleep
Sleep deprivation is known to be a common seizure trigger. A regular sleep routine like going to bed at roughly the same time each night and waking at the same time in the morning, promotes good sleep. Sleep can affect seizures in lots of ways. During normal sleep-wake cycles changes in the brain’s electrical and hormonal activity occur. These changes can be related to why some people have more seizures during sleep than others, and why not getting enough sleep can trigger seizures. In fact, some people’s seizures are tied very closely with their sleep. They may have all their seizures while sleeping, which is known as Nocturnal Seizures, or when falling asleep or waking up occurs. For other people, sleep may not be a common trigger-so maybe they are overtired and faced with stress which will then trigger a seizure.
Avoid visual triggers
Some people with epilepsy are photosensitive. Flickering television images, TV games, and flashing lights can provoke seizures. If a person with epilepsy is watching TV, it is advised that the rest of the room is then well lit and that the person watching TV is at least eight feet away from the TV.
Move a little
Aerobic exercise is good for sleep and overall health. Of course, those of us living with Epilepsy should take precautions. For example, don’t swim alone and make sure any exercise area has cushioned flooring and is free from obstructions.
Eat a balanced diet
For anyone who wants good health, doctors stress eating a balanced diet with a variety of healthy foods — and for people with epilepsy there are some additional considerations. In some people, disturbances in levels of calcium, magnesium, and sodium can be caused by antiepileptic drugs. Vitamin D, which is extremely important for bone strength, can be diminished by AEDs. Make sure you eat plenty of foods high in Vitamin D, like;
-Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon.
-Dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals.
I can’t say enough how much Yoga and Meditation have helped me recently! Yoga lowers stress and improves your mood
Some yoga methods use specific meditation techniques, which focus the mind on your breathing to quieten the constant fog that goes on in your head after work or when you’re anxious. It also relieves stress and allows you to feel relaxed. Practicing breathing techniques can also boost oxygen levels to the brain, leaving you feeling happier and more content with everyday life.
Don’t skip medication
Seizures can be provoked simply by missing a dose or two of medication. Put medication in a place where the person who is taking it is not likely to overlook it. For instance, I leave mine in the bathroom because I know I will see it whilst brushing my teeth in the morning and the evening.
You are worth it
And remember, you are worth the effort! Take the time to care for yourself. Make it a goal for 2018!
“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life. ” – Jill Bolte Taylor
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.