National Epilepsy Awareness Month takes place in November and is an annual event that teaches people about epilepsy’s causes and symptoms, as well as ends bad stigma around the matter. One in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point during their lifetime. Epilepsy is one of the least understood of all neurological diseases, yet it is the fourth most common. This is the month to provide information about prevention, treatment, research, and resources to fight epilepsy. Unfortunately, epilepsy has a long history of misunderstanding and stigmatism. Evidence of individuals suffering epilepsy in ancient history attributed it to spiritual or demonic possession until well into the 17th century, when the notion that it wasn’t demonic or spiritual possession finally subsided. But, the stigma associated with it continues to this day. One of the goals of National Epilepsy Awareness Month is to separate the disease from its historical and false reputation.
In 1850 The Queen of England’s doctor treated epilepsy. Queen Victoria’s obstetrician introduced potassium bromide as a way to successfully treat epilepsy. In 1912, Phenobarbital became the first modern epilepsy treatment. Phenobarbital, one of the most commonly used medicines to contain or reduce seizures, became the first modern treatment for epilepsy. In 1980 the stigma started to end with being allowed to marry an individual with epilepsy in the U.S., considering they fought for this for many years. It wasn’t until this point in time you were officially allowed to marry with epilepsy. Many countries still believe that it’s a sign of spiritual possession. In the 1990s, work discrimination policies were put in place to protect individuals with epilepsy.
While many of the individuals who suffer from epilepsy may be able to “control” their seizures, or don’t consider themselves disabled. In order to help prevent seizures, individuals need to be able to relax the brain and nervous system. Linalool, the terpene most prominent in lavender, has that effect, which is why lavender or purple is the official color of epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition in the brain that triggers seizures. Doctors believe that a brain’s uncontrolled increase of excess electrical activity hampers its normal functions, causing a short interruption to messages traveling back and forth within the brain. This interruption causes epileptic seizures. Seizures don’t affect everyone the same way. The symptoms range from rapidly blinking eyes to someone going into a state where they stare blankly for a few minutes. Some people suffer a short interval of confusion. The more serious seizures involve falling to the ground with strong muscle contractions followed by a brief disorientation. There are two kinds of epilepsy, that being cryogenic and idiopathic. Crytogenic people with epilepsy have no clearly identifiable cause for their condition. Idiopathic people with epilepsy show no neurological disorder, but these sufferers have symptoms consistent with people who are officially diagnosed with epileptic syndromes. Either way, these are your everyday individuals who you may know in passing, friends and family, or strangers you see out in public; they are all human beings who deserve the same kind of love and respect.
If you know someone who has epilepsy, ask them what you can do to help them when experiencing a seizure. Most individuals will tell you not to call 911 right away to just comfort them until they pass. There are things you can do to make sure they are safe! Just ask or look them up! Educate yourself on the matter so you can help end the stigma that surrounds epilepsy and spread love to those who live with this condition on a daily! Break out the purple and show you care.