As Halloween passes, we are presented with our first taste of November, just like that. We go from spooky stories and crazy costumes to medleys of jingle bells and the beginning of the winter season. But, with November comes a season of change and awareness as well.
November is named National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that presents recurring, unpredicted seizures. It is not a mental illness, it is not contagious and it is not a mental impairment. More than 3 million Americans, alone, have epilepsy, and 60,000 Minnesotans. 1 in 26 individuals will develop epilepsy sometime in their lives. As unknown as Epilepsy is to so many people, it is very alarming to see these statistics. Epilepsy can come out of nowhere and literally put a roadblock in one's life.
Junior year of high school, I was presented this exact situation. This was the year I found out my sister had epilepsy, and it was also the year I found out I was not informed and educated on the topic. I did not know what Epilepsy was at that time in my life when it had been present in the lives of so many Americans worldwide. In fact, Epilepsy affects more people than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s combined! Epilepsy is present, and it is important, and that is why November is declared National Epilepsy Awareness Month.
November is draped in purple and fueled with advocacy towards the education of what epilepsy is and how to be seizure smart. Through this campaign we harness the power of social media for a month to help advocate and educate those with epilepsy about treatment and therapy options as they move towards being seizure-free. Through this we ask the question:
“How will you help others #DARETO be Seizure Smart?"
As the 2014 campaign of “#DARETO” continues into this year, we continue to show that those with epilepsy can be anything they wish to be and should dare to do so.
Becoming educated on the topic of epilepsy is the first step towards a solution. The Walk for Epilepsy, Camp Oz and the push for workplaces, schools and communities to becoming seizure smart are all steps towards educating others about the impact of epilepsy and how we can better understand its significant impact on our loved ones. Becoming seizure smart doesn’t involve passing a test or receiving any sort of certification, it is about understanding and knowing.
We take the time to educate ourselves because we want a solution and we care about our loved ones dearly. Dr. Janice Buelow, Epilepsy Foundation vice president of programs and research states, “For the majority of people living with epilepsy, lack of scientific knowledge creates huge barriers. The Foundation is breaking those barriers by ensuring research and new therapies are available in a time frame that matters to people who are suffering from debilitating, and, in many cases, uncontrolled, seizures.” The foundation strives for a better future for those with seizures, and you can too, so wear your purple with pride this month, become Seizure Smart and be an advocate for change.