Half a million people in the UK suffer from epilepsy but while most people have heard of epilepsy, many still do not know much about it.
The goal of National Epilepsy Week which takes place this week (15 – 21 May) is to improve understanding of this common, but sometimes debilitating,condition.
Alan Wright struggled with epilepsy for 36 years. “I went through life, used to what I thought of as my ‘Partial Seizure Activity’, seeing scenes in my mind. However, when they worsened to the point whereby I couldn’t control them I was pushed to see a doctor. I was told that little did I know, for as long as I remember, I had been suffering from a form of epilepsy.”
Alan shares his story in a new book, An Engineered Mind, published to coincide with National Epilepsy Week. Sharing his feelings every step of the way, it tells the absorbing and emotional story of how epilepsy threatened to tear his personal and family life apart. “When I was diagnosed,”Alan says, “I was stopped from working in various areas.”
Everybody is different but families, friends and employers of people with epilepsy need to remember that behind the condition is a person with the same needs and rights as the everyone.National Epilepsy Week is about making sure people affected by epilepsy have everything they need to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle.
“People should do best not to allow epilepsy stop them in life,” says Alan. “No matter how overwhelming things seem, I had to push on forward and plan for the future.”
According to leading charity Epilepsy Action, epilepsy is defined as a tendency to have re-current seizures caused by a sudden burst of excess electrical activity in the brain. This causes a temporary disruption resulting in the brain’s communication messages becoming halted or mixed up. There are many types of seizure and each person will experience epilepsy differently. There is no conclusive test for epilepsy and so it should be diagnosed by a specialist doctor who will use their expert knowledge, along with test results and accounts of the seizures, to make the diagnosis.
In the UK around one in 20 people will have a single seizure at some point in their life, whereas one in 131 people have epilepsy.
Epilepsy is usually treated with anti-epileptic drugs. These act on the brain and try to reduce or prevent seizures.
If you are concerned about epilepsy, Epilepsy Action have a UK freephone advice number: 0808800 5050