Epilepsy Seizure Triggers

Epilepsy seizure triggers

Some people with epilepsy may notice a link between certain situations and seizures. Activities or circumstances that increase the risk of a seizure happening are called seizure triggers. 

Some commonly reported seizure triggers related to lifestyle include: 

• lack of sleep

• overexertion or physical fatigue

• physical or emotional stress

• heat

• alcohol and other drug use.

These triggers are not the same for everyone and it may take some time to recognise your own triggers, especially if your seizures are infrequent. A good way to find out is to keep a diary of your seizures, and what was happening before you had each of them. 

Although reducing your exposure to triggers may be helpful, it is important not to restrict your activities to the point where your interests and fun are excluded and you’re not enjoying life. Precautions should be sensible with a balance between risk and restrictions. 

Steven Connelly

Impact of Seizures and Stress

Many individuals with epilepsy experience an overwhelming and overpowering connection centrally located and sandwiched between stress and seizures, with stress being a common seizure trigger.

However, a diagnosis of epilepsy may bring with it many potential stresses as well, many of which are long term (chronic). Sources of stress for people with epilepsy may include:

• seizures, and their unpredictability

• the type of seizure – focal seizures often involve unusual behaviours that many people would not recognise as epilepsy. These behaviours may be mistaken as intoxication, inappropriate behaviour or mental health problems and can cause embarrassment

• the risk of injury

• medication side effects

• teasing, bullying or social isolation

• employment difficulties and associated financial difficulties

• stigma of epilepsy

• in some cases, reduced independence.

Chronic stress may lead to increased seizures, which may consequently exacerbate the stress. 

Stress has been demonstrated to have wide-ranging detrimental effects on health, but it is a normal part of life. It is important to recognise your own signs and symptoms of stress and to use strategies that you find helpful to manage your stress levels.

Steven Connelly

Understanding Male Suicide

In the UK, unfortunately suicide still remains the highest cause of death among men under the age 45. In fact the highest suicide rate in the UK is recorded for men aged 40–44.

Male rates are much more significant and greater than female suicide rates, and i believe one reason for this is that men are less likely to ask for help, talk about there thoughts and feelings and express dark and low moods as-well as suicidal feelings.

Risk Factors:

Suicide is a complex behaviour with a range of risk factors. It’s imperative that the risk factor that are associated with the act of suicide are understood. Below are some of these risk factors:

• Prior suicide attempts

• Mental health problems – depression (often revealed through irritability, anger or hostility)

• Relationship problems

• Social isolation

• Exposure to bullying

• Substance abuse history

• Physical illness or disability

• Access to medication or weapons

• Recent bereavement (family member or a close friend)

• Losing a friend or family member to suicide

Male suicidal behaviours is often linked to a number external factors, such as an illness, a business failure and/or a forced retirement, thus suicide-prevention plans often fail to address individual internal or psychological factors such as feelings, personal shortcomings, or relationship issues.

Recently, there has been notably more suicide among older men. It could be that health professionals may be overlooking the signs of depression. Thus focusing on other problems such as epilepsy, diabetes, heart disorders and strokes which can cause depressive symptoms, as well as medications that can have depressive side effects.

It has been suggested that lower suicide rates among women is due to women being able to manage complex emotions, as well as having flexible coping strategies than men. Also suggesting that men are socialised to internalise their feelings and this could inhibit them from reaching out for the help that they need.

Prevention and Intervention:

The government has proclaimed a commitment to suicide research, however, there are still many challenges with suicide data across the UK and Republic of Ireland, and this has an impact on our understanding of male suicide.

Thus, there is an urgent need for the government to focus on reducing the rate of male suicide. It needs to be talked about it, understand and intervened. We need to refrain from simply maintaining the narrative that just because men are physically strong they must therefore avoid being seen as mentally weak.

Suicide prevention strategies and plans should be geared to support men to build the skills in dealing with issues that they face. Telling men to get help doesn’t take us very far in dealing with male suicide.

The causes of the driving factors should be identified, understood and addressed. We ought to dig deeper and take time to understand a very real problem facing the country.

Indeed further research work needs to be undertaken in the area of male suicide. The government needs to show readiness in investing in the cost of research, programs and campaigns in contesting the higher rates of male suicide!

It is only by breaking the silence of male suicide that we can build public awareness and implement preventive strategies that the we can address this very real epidemic.

Suggesting to men that they should reach out for help alone isn’t enough. We need to explore and intervene further for sure.

If you need to talk please call:

Samaritans: 116 123

Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87

Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774

Calm: 0800 58 58 58

Victim Support: 0808 168 9111

If you need urgent assistance and don’t know what to do call NHS 111. NHS 111 is there for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You are never alone, it’s ok not to be ok.

Steven Connelly

Reach out and Speak up

With new information released pointing to a deepening male suicide crisis (a crisis that is much worse than previously believed), it is becoming increasingly important that we recognise risk factors for depression and anxiety in men. Depression and anxiety are among the most common health conditions experienced by men. Different things can cause depression and anxiety for different men, and sometimes it can be due to things building up over time. 

Risk factors for depression and anxiety in men.

Some of the risk factors for depression and anxiety in men include:

Life events like problems to do with relationships, employment, social isolation, separation or divorce and unemployment.

In my opinion prolonged or excessive job stress is a factor for mental health problems and accounts for a large percentage of depression in working men.

Family history of depression and anxiety

Drug and alcohol use.

Serious medical illness – the stress of dealing with serious illness and chronic pain can lead to depression.

On average, 1 in 8 men will have depression, and 1 in 5 men will experience anxiety at some stage in their lives. Men are less likely to seek help than women, with only 1 in 4 men who experience anxiety or depression seeking treatment.

Men are known for bottling things up.

There’s still a stigma that ‘real men’ don’t complain about their physical, mental or emotional problems. There’s a sense that real men stick it through, suck it up, work it out. Men say they would be there to support their mates, but they feel uncomfortable about asking their mates for help.

Reaching out is vital.

It’s important for men to have people they can talk to about anything, get things off their chest and know that they won’t be judged. Talking is the first step to feeling better. Talking about your feelings and finding the right words can be hard, but keeping quiet can make it seem worse.

Always:

1: Find the right person to talk with who is likely to be understanding. This might be someone you are close to and trust, like a friend, family member or colleague, or a health professional.

2: Always be kind to yourself and take everything slowly and at your own pace. Make time for yourself and practice mindfulness, meditation or yoga which can all have a massive and positive effect on the mind and your body.

3: Accept that people will react in different ways. Understand and try to accept that not everyone will be able or willing to support you. Try to appreciate their efforts.

4: Talk when you are ready about what is important to you. It’s your experience, and you are in control of what you share.

5: You may want to talk about how you’re feeling; any physical changes you’ve noticed like feeling more tired than usual; and how it has affected your day to day life.

6: Communicate as clearly as you’re able to, about what support you need at the moment. You may need to be clear that you just need someone to listen to you; and that your needs may change over time.

7: Focus on how you can help others (that might be your friends, your family or others in need) and set goals and work towards them. Keep a gratitude journal and make daily entries about things  you are grateful for.

It can be helpful to talk a doctor or mental health professional

Mental health professionals can help people make sense of depression, pain and stress. Without proper understanding or knowledge, people who suffer from depression and anxiety can feel alone and helpless.

It’s common when you are depressed or anxious to feel as though you have little control over things. Trained psychologists and counsellors can help you make sense of what you are going through, and work with you in navigating life changes and transitions.

Always remember, it’s ok not to be ok, talking is power and we are all stronger together, you are never ever alone.

Let’s all work together and reduce the figures of men who are dying from suicide.

If you need to talk please call:

Samaritans: 116 123

Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87

Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774

Men’s Health Forum: http://www.menshealthforum.org.uk

Steven Connelly

Fighting for Medical Marijuana in the UK

It is most certainly doctors’ ignorance, lack of awareness and understanding behind the lack of prescriptions for medical marijuana despite its reclassification for medical use in November 2018?. In the UK we have serious issues with ignorance and insensitivity with some professionals in the medical field.

Cannabis can have a major Impact in the life’s of children living with epilepsy and this could most certainly be the answer in the treatment of children living with a rare, severe, difficult and life changing form of epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome. Research suggests that The cannabis derivative cannabidiol, was able to reduce seizure frequency by. Roughly 39% this is amazing.

However, thousands of cannabis users are extremely desperate as they feel hopeless, distressed and disheartened and they have know other opinions but to buy cannabis illegally because the NHS is not giving prescriptions for it and parents don’t want to keep watching there child in vulnerable states during seizures and afterwards it’s absolutely heartbreaking and aggravating when you are aware there is a drug that can help with all this, and there’s nothing you can do, you totally feel powerless and helpless and then there’s the pain.

The first of November 2018 was an important day for medical cannabis in UK. That day the government finally accepted the medical properties of cannabis and the drug became listed in Schedule 2 instead of Schedule 1. This meant cannabis could be prescribed for patients who needed it.

Unfortunately March 2019 arrived and not a single person had actually been given the necessary prescription from the NHS to buy medical marijuana. On top of it, a few people obtained prescriptions that have been issued via

private healthcare system; something

that is not affordable for most people.

The change of cannabis status in UK has been a difficult and constant battle between politicians and many professionals who proved cannabis was a medicine in many cases. Cannabis users must feel grateful to Sajid Javid, who was home secretary of state, and Nick Hurd, minister of state at the Home Office. They were able to listen and learn from the experts and acted accordingly.

Unfortunately they did something that the cannabis users are regretting. Looking for help to regulate the cases of pain, they consulted the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA) about childhood epilepsy, both organizations are well known for being very conservative and open minded.

The RCP admitted that there were not evidences enough to prescribe marijuana to treat pain. They completely ignored the evidences published by different experts such as the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and the UK government’s own chief medical advisor too.

They ignored the data from the USA, which suggest that medical cannabis could avoid many deaths caused by opiate prescriptions. Many patients who suffer chronic pain use opiates to alleviate their suffering and, in many occasions, they take an overdose and die. So far, nobody has died from cannabis overdose. As it happened in the USA before legalization, many doctors are prescribing hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, methadone and fentanyl. These drugs are extremely strong opiates and the possibility of overdose it too high. How long will they continue ignoring the facts? Because it is difficult to ignore that about 1000 deaths a year could be avoided if patients were prescribed medical cannabis instead of those tremendous and addictive opiates.

It is estimated that almost half a million people in the UK are consuming cannabis without a prescription to treat their chronic pain. They are sick; not criminals, who must buy from the black market.

In the mean time and due to the public pressure, the BPNA stated that Epidiolex (isolated CBD) could be eventually treat some cases of childhood epilepsy and only after any other possibility, including surgery, has failed. They ignore that many children slightly respond to CBD and, however, they need THC to increase the ability of the cannabis CBD to treat their disorder.

Among many other evidences, we must remember a case that influenced to change the law, since then there is many.

Unfortunately, many doctors don’t know and don’t understand the abilities of cannabis. They weren’t taught at the university and ignore the endocannabinoid system in our organism. They grew up thinking marijuana was a bad drug and they aren’t able to change their minds suddenly. We must admit that a good doctor cannot prescribe something he or she doesn’t fully understand. In order to change this ridiculous situation, education and awareness is the only way we have to get results. It has been calculated that just 100 doctors who have been trained in the medical capacity and benefits of cannabis could change the current situation about medical weed and begin to prescribe it in the UK. Of course these doctors should work alongside other professionals, it’s time to change.

Steven Connelly

Self Management and Epilepsy

Managing a debilitating condition such as epilepsy can be complex, exhausting, challenging, crippling, difficult and frustrating.

Seizures can unfortunately make an appearance at anytime which can make it tough to work, go to school, drive, and take part in social activities. Sometimes epilepsy treatment can make these activities more of a challenge because of the gruelling impact of meditation side effects.

Self -management skills are extremely essential and can help people take control of their health and cope with their day-to-day challenges.

Self-management does not mean that people manage their health alone. Self-management requires an active partnership between a person with epilepsy, their family or friends, and their health care provider.  Each one plays an important role in epilepsy self-management.

Epilepsy self-management encompasses three broad areas:

• Treatment Management. Medication schedules, keeping clinic appointments, and communicating with health care professionals.

• Seizure Management. Recognizing and avoiding seizure triggers whenever possible and keeping track of seizures.

• Lifestyle Management. Getting adequate sleep, reducing stress, and maintaining social support networks.

You can learn how to manage your epilepsy and can have and enjoy a active and full life and reach all your potentials. Staying positive and discovering that epilepsy has you, you don’t have epilepsy. You can do absolutely anything you want to do in life and remember you might have epilepsy but it’s only the beginning of a fabulous and glorious journey, it’s not the end and your never ever alone.

Steven Connelly

Digging Deep, Finding Hope, Moving On.

My life was in an extremely dark place for about two years from 2015 till 2017 and am proud and privileged to say that epilepsy connections and epilepsy futures has absolutely changed my life!

As a result of graduating from the Epilepsy Futures programme a little over a year ago, a whole range of new, exciting and fully supported opportunities opened for me. After completing my time on Epilepsy Futures, it was suggested to me that I consider becoming a Volunteer Peer Mentor with the 2nd group of 10 participants) I grabbed this opportunity and haven’t looked back…this is where my volunteering journey really begin with Epilepsy Connections.

I have a huge passion and enthusiasm for supporting individuals living with epilepsy and I strongly believe in the importance of delivering positive messages and training to vulnerable groups, organisations and individuals regarding epilepsy and stigma.

I want people to understand that although life with epilepsy can be really awful at times, that it can get so much better with the right support and information. My experience has changed my life, and I want others to have that

experience too

Discovering that you have Epilepsy can be one of the most challenging and distressing moments an individual has to experience in life. You may feel frightening, nervous, worried, panic stricken or even hatred.

Its critical to keep in mind, these feelings you are experiencing are common of a person with an Epilepsy diagnosis – this is OK though and a perfectly natural element of confronting a burden that can be seriously life altering.

It is Important to state Epilepsy doesn’t have to prohibit you living a happy and fulfilling life, with the appropriate treatment and support, it is extremely possible to live a life of positivity, satisfaction, happiness and enjoyment.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be living with Epilepsy. Fundamentally , everyone’s lives are different, and how you manage your diagnosis and move forward will vary from person to person.

At the age of 21, I was diagnosed with tonic clonic Epilepsy, after successfully accomplishing seizure free status from a long developing period of petit mal(absence seizures) as a child, where I experienced 300+ per day for seven years.

The tonic clonic seizures, there is no explanation to why these shocking and terrifying seizures has came upon me. Unfortunately it just happens, there is know explanation, I’ve been fight fighting for one for a few years now and my medical records are very much inconclusive. It’s a condition that can creep up on anyone at any age.

The seizures uncontrollably begin without my knowledge and out of the blue, I wasn’t feeling unwell at any specific time, I hadn’t suffered from any head injuries previous to encourage the seizure activity in my brain.

Epilepsy certainly does not have to stop you from achieving, it’s not the end of the world, it feels like that, but it’s not. Their is so many incredible and important support services nowadays, there is every kind of support for everyone, never ever give up.

I have not let my Epilepsy hold me back, for many years I did, there were extreme periods of darkness, every day was extremely dismal, leaving the house was a massive challenge, putting on brave faces every where i went. However i have certainly realised, life is far to short, I’ve got a life to live and I am most certainly going to live it.

thanks to Epilepsy Connections and Futures, i have learned that self-acceptance is key, however social acceptance requires huge efforts especially in the fight against stigma, which we often have to cope with on a daily basis, but, why should we?

Reflecting back on my time at Futures. I am generally filled with emotions as my life has changed immensely for the better.

I am not that young man anymore who was scared and embarrassed to leave the house in the event of a seizure occurring, awaiting the next episode and dislocated his shoulder.

I am exceptional and remarkably proud of my positive and successful outcomes and the influence and advantages that Futures has had on my life and for engaging in friendships that I definitely know will be friends and a support network for life.

I have discovered from my own futures life experiences that I have a passion, enthusiasm and determination to help support individuals living with epilepsy.

i am absolutely embracing all opportunities with Epilepsy Connections since graduating from the Futures programme. I am honoured and privileged to now be a volunteer with Epilepsy Connections.

Since volunteering for Epilepsy Connections my skills and confidence have greatly strengthened, I have been able to present workshops and be a guest speak at a whole range of events that I would never have thought possible before meeting the organisation. I have also made lifelong friendships within the epilepsy community that are so important to me! As my confidence grew I have become more involved across the organisation…I also now volunteer to help support the operation of Epilepsy Connections Children and Families Project, which means that approx. every 6 – 8 weeks, we go and have fun with a different activity e.g the Go –Karting. During this volunteering I am able to help children with epilepsy and their families to access some quality time and fun, it is very close to me as I was diagnosed with Epilepsy when I was 4 years old. I also volunteer to help support the operation of a monthly social group run by Epilepsy Connections, called Friends Connected, this is for service users who would like to come out, relax and socialise for a few hours at a local Ten Pin Bowling site. It is a fantastic way for people to make new friends and discover that they are not alone. I have a befriend whom I regularly support to engage in social activities such as: bowling, playing pool, lunches, employment support, advice to access more support services including his local fieldwork service etc.

It has been an extraordinary and inspiring experience. I would absolutely recommend volunteering to anyone, it has opened up new opportunities for me, given me new skills and allowed me to meet some really special people. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that I have been fortunate to work with and meet during my journey over the past few years, too many to mention, you all know who you all are.

Steven Connelly