Epilepsy awareness requires understanding the illness and how to connect with others who may not know much about it. Epilepsy is one of the better-known seizure disorders, and awareness efforts aim to educate the public about the illness and its progression. The best tips for personal epilepsy awareness include learning about the illness, how it can affect a person's life, and how to help an epileptic through a seizure when necessary. The best tips for spreading epilepsy awareness include advocating about legislative proposals related to epilepsy, representing the epileptic community at local events, sharing a personal story, and wearing purple for epilepsy awareness.
Epilepsy is an illness diagnosed when a person has had at least two seizures with no known cause. Seizures stem from an abnormal surge of electrical activity that affects the brain, whether all or part. There are different types of seizures, and a bystander's response to another person's seizure should be dictated by the type of seizure, making education important if one is to respond in the most beneficial way. Epilepsy awareness on a personal level also can involve understanding any special dietary requirements and other lifestyle changes of a particular patient so social activities can better accommodate the person's needs and be more inclusive. Simply understanding that epilepsy is a medical condition and refusing to discriminate based on a diagnosis of epilepsy is a major step in personal awareness.
Legislators often consider bills related to epilepsy awareness. Healthcare reform bills, for example, often contain provisions for pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies often consider epilepsy a pre-existing condition, meaning people with epilepsy who lose insurance coverage may not be able to get it again. Bills on funding for epilepsy-related projects, such as training programs for assistance dogs, also come up from time to time. An effective method of raising awareness of this illness is contacting legislators and writing newspaper editorials explaining how these bills will affect people with epilepsy.
Some people are unfamiliar with what epilepsy is and how people with the illness look. Old wives’ tales, such as swallowing one’s tongue during a seizure, often dictate the way people respond to epileptics. Educating the public through booths at local health fairs provides an opportunity to talk to others about the illness and let them know how they can help people who have this illness. Children’s fairs also offer an opportunity to connect with children who have epilepsy. Look for any opportunity to share valuable information with people who want to learn more.
Epilepsy often is considered a “mystery” illness, so many people don’t realize they may know someone with epilepsy. A person who has epilepsy can increase awareness by speaking to others, sharing his or her story when given the chance. There is no need to go into heavy detail, but a person who lets others know he or she has the condition and answers any questions succinctly and honestly will help raise awareness.
Canadian epileptic Cassidy Megan started Epilepsy Awareness Day in 2008, encouraging people to wear purple on a specific day each year to let others know about epilepsy. Sporting a purple ribbon on this day can give even a quiet person an opportunity to introduce others to the condition. Keeping brochures or fliers available to hand out is a good alternative to speaking out, especially if the papers have relevant website addresses listed for more information.