Erasing Stigma: Starting an Open Discussion of Life with Epilepsy

Despite how little is spoken about epilepsy within the public dialogue and despite the misconception of rarity in occurrence, epilepsy, and other similar neurological conditions, have begun to finally find the traction they need to gain wider acceptance and understanding throughout society.

This couldn’t come a day sooner for the nearly half a million people in the UK that live with epilepsy. Although we have made quite a considerable amount of advancement in terms of understanding and beginning to accept neurological conditions, there still very much exists a type of social stigma surrounding those that live with conditions much like epilepsy.

Erasing the stigma and pursuing the opportunity for open dialogue…

Though society is certainly much more inclusive than it has ever previously been, there is still admittedly much more progress that is needed to be made towards tackling the social stigmas associated with living with epilepsy and other neurological conditions much like it.

Unfortunately in terms of acceptance and understanding there is still much room for improvement and this is particularly apparent with the level of understanding and knowledge the average persona has concerning neurological conditions like epilepsy.

Correcting misrepresentations and misunderstandings…

The lack of knowledge surrounding epilepsy within modern society is in part due to the lack of dialogue we have when discussing epilepsy, neurological conditions, and what it means to live each day with a positive diagnosis.

This lack of discussion only furthers the problem of misunderstanding and makes it even more difficult for those living with neurological conditions to come forward.

As this cycle continues, progress and understanding is halted completely. So to move forward beyond this and begin to finally find greater understanding we must first tackle many of the misconceptions and misunderstandings that surround epilepsy and life with neurological conditions.

To do this let us take a look at some of the more commonly held misconceptions surrounding living with a neurological condition, in this particular case, epilepsy.

Unfortunately much of the public incorrectly believes that those living with epilepsy…

  • All live with the same type and level of the condition…
  • Perhaps are unable to work due to the condition…

And concerning the nature of epilepsy itself, many incorrectly believe that…

  • The condition is a lifelong affliction…
  • Is brought on by flashing lights and geometric shapes…
  • And of course causes a person to convulse violently and lose consciousness…

And this couldn’t be further from the actual truth of living with epilepsy for the nearly half of a million people within the UK.

The truth surrounding those who live with epilepsy is perhaps closer to…

  • Though epilepsy is used to describe a particular neurological condition that causes a person to be more predisposed to various types of seizures, the severity, type, and of course frequency greatly varies from person to person…
  • There is no one size fits all when describing the symptoms of epilepsy as each person’s experiences are unique…
  • And the condition is quite common among people with an estimated 1% of the UK population currently living with epilepsy…

And the true nature of epilepsy itself is actually closer to…

  • Many people who live with the condition rarely experience symptoms as nearly 52% of all people living with epilepsy fall under the category of controlled symptoms, usually through medication and several other treatments…
  • While 3% of those living with epilepsy do experience symptoms arising from photosensitivity, a vast majority are unaffected completely…

Once we begin to correct these misunderstandings and misconceptions we can begin to have a more open dialogue.

As we grow as a society in our understanding of what it means to live with a neurological condition and our understanding of the very conditions themselves, we can finally move beyond the associated stigmas surrounding living with a positive diagnosis.

This is vital as many people who live with neurological conditions may feel a disconnect from the rest of society arising from the lack of understanding over something that is quite apparently a truth within their life.

As we begin to move towards a better and more inclusive society, the benefits of finally bringing every person to the table for discussions will become more than apparent.

Though moving forward with that discussion there are a few things to remember for those that are not familiar with living with epilepsy…

Those that live with epilepsy, and other neurological conditions, are still very much people so referring to a person by a particular aspect of their life, in this case as being ‘epileptic’ should be avoided.

And of course be open to learning about ways that you can change your own views to better understand the unique challenges a person living with epilepsy has.

It is only by challenging misconceptions and our own viewpoints that we can begin to erase stigmas surrounding epilepsy and other neurological conditions.