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Posts Tagged ‘Epilepsy’

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The Daily Mail has done it again. Yes, I realise that I should never be surprised by anything that appears in the Daily Fail, but I can’t help but be shocked that yet again they have equated epilepsy with violent behaviour.

Take this story which appeared on the website today: Epileptic plasterer who ‘killed a banker with a single punch on a night out attacked him “because he felt threatened” after one of his victim’s friends made a comment about his race

Did he punch the man while his limbs were jerking during a seizure? No. Was he dazed and confused after coming round from a period of unconsciousness? No. Does the fact that he has epilepsy have anything to do with his violent and ultimately fatal outburst? No.

He left his job after being diagnosed with epilepsy. That’s it.

He told jurors he worked as a plasterer for about four years after leaving school, but quit work after he was diagnosed with epilepsy following a seizure.

‘I haven’t been able to work. I stay at home pretty much,’ he said.

He’s 31 now, so that’s a long time not to work. Many – or indeed probably most – people with epilepsy work and lead normal, fulfilling lives. Normal, fulfilling lives which don’t involve punching people and causing their death. Epilepsy had nothing, and I repeat NOTHING, to do with that violent rage.

The Daily Mail has form for this. Back in October 2012 I was so incensed with a very similar piece – that gem was Epileptic man stabbed his noisy neighbour to death with a fish knife in row over eviction – that I wrote and complained to the paper. This is what I wrote. I didn’t get a response, of course. The chap in the piece had mental health problems which clearly contributed to the tragic outcome. Again, his epilepsy had nothing to do with it but was just a peg.

Woo, look at those crazy epileptics! They are mentally ill! Maybe they’re actually possessed by demons? We’re all going to catch it! They’re going to kill us all!

Right, people?

As I wrote in my previous complaint:

  • The term “epileptic” is used in the headline and copy as almost a justification for this man’s violent behaviour. In fact, his having epilepsy was of no relevance to the story whatsoever.
  • Relating this man’s violent crime to his epilepsy only serves to reinforce ill-informed prejudices and the unnecessary stigma which people with epilepsy incredibly still face. If he had had asthma, would the headline have been “Asthmatic plasterer […] “killed a banker””?
  • Don’t get me started on the use of the label “epileptic”. As a person with epilepsy, I refuse to be defined by the condition. It’s just a very small part of who I am – I am not “an epileptic”. In the same way that people would surely not refer to a “Downs Syndrome baby” in this day and age, it would be fantastic if people with epilepsy could be granted the same respect.

I know I shouldn’t give the Daily Mail the oxygen of publicity but this really grinds my gears.

This kind of unhelpful media representation only serves to reinforce the stigma and prejudice which sadly still exist. No one needs to be ashamed of having epilepsy.

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Cara Coles bookIf you’re newly diagnosed with epilepsy and looking for medical information about your condition, this isn’t the book for you.

However, if you’d like to read an intensely personal account of how Cara Coles came to terms with her diagnosis – and eventually began to see it in a positive light – give Living and Copying with Epilepsy, My Way (2015, Soul Rocks) a shot.

Shocked by her seizures, British healthcare worker Cara decides to use the law of attraction and positive thinking to prove that she can have whatever she wants out of life, no matter what.

She writes a list of wishes, from getting her driving licence back to meeting her favourite band – I would love to know which band, and what happened on the mysterious sixth tour date that “we don’t talk about” – and publishing a book, and trusts the universe to deliver.

It’s an easy book to read, with the short chapters giving it the feel of a series of blog posts. Although this isn’t the case, it does seem a bit like a self-published vanity project, and it’s quite repetitious in places with some odd asides.

Having said that, I did enjoy reading it. I have epilepsy myself and recognised many of the stages she goes through, from the fear of having a seizure in public to the profound grief of losing your driving licence and hence your independence. I too went through a period of being afraid to go to sleep in case I had a seizure. It was a great comfort to read about the emotional impact of having epilepsy and feel that I wasn’t alone.

Given that the theme of the book was the law of attraction, I was concerned that at some point she was going to trust the universe to deliver a cure for her epilepsy. I was glad to see that she trusts her neurologist’s advice throughout and doesn’t advocate throwing away your medication and hoping for the best.

Cara’s sincerity shines throughout the book – she clearly believes in the law of attraction, that “like attracts like”, and presents a convincing case. Even this sceptical reader felt inspired to think about clearing out the spare room to release the blocked energy within.

No matter what you think about the book’s central premise, you can’t deny that it would be a better world if more people considered the power of gratitude and kindness. And this is something everyone could benefit from, with or without epilepsy.

“It’s still your life: how you live it is up to you. You are who you are; you are not who your illness says you are.” Cara Coles

* I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Happy New Year! I thought I’d do a quick round-up of my most popular posts of 2014 (not including homepage/archives), even though I use this site as a portfolio rather than a blog at present.

In ascending order:

5. Life Stories

This page is about the short book I wrote with the National Memorial Arboretum a few years back.

4. A homemade deodorant recipe that really works

I use this every day and I hope this post about making your own nasty-free deodorant has inspired some people to give it a try.

3. Why I love my Mooncup (review)

Another “crunchy” post with more intimate information about me than you might want!

2. Where are the celebrities with epilepsy?

I’d still love to see someone famous “come out” as having epilepsy as I think this would have a real impact on raising awareness and combatting stigma. Epilepsy awareness is a real passion of mine.

1. The secret meaning behind In The Night Garden’s opening words

This was far and away the hottest post on my site with four times as many clicks as the next most popular. It seems a lot of people – particularly in Australia, for some reason – are also wondering whether Iggle Piggle might be dead.

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March 26th was Purple Day – the international day of epilepsy awareness – and I was privileged to be able to share my story in the Birmingham Mail that day.

I talked about the shock of being diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 20 and some of the feelings I wrestled with at the time and later, as well as the precautions I took to minimise the risks to my unborn child when I was planning to become a mum.

Ever since it went to press I’ve been thinking of other things that I wish I’d said, so here are a few extras for you:

I got some positive comments on the Mail’s Facebook page, although a few people seemed to think that I couldn’t truly speak about epilepsy as my seizures are controlled. To which I say, yes, I know I am among the fortunate 52 per cent of people with epilepsy who live seizure-free – and I know that many people face daily struggles that I am lucky to avoid.

However, I hope that my story can be seen as a giving a positive take on living with epilepsy, and shining a light on an often misunderstood condition, but one which is surprisingly common (one in every 103 people in the UK has epilepsy).

Click here to read the full feature.

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Happy New Year! I thought I’d do a quick round-up of my most popular posts during 2013, like so many others have done.

In ascending order:

5. My Grandpa

My Grandpa sadly died on January 8th, 2013, and this was my tribute to a wonderful man.

4. A homemade deodorant recipe that really works

I’ve fallen off the wagon slightly but I used to be very into natural and homemade products. I hope this post about making your own nasty-free deodorant has inspired some people to give it a try. I really ought to get back to this again.

3. About me

Ah, you must all be curious types – although, of course, this also serves as my homepage…

2. The secret meaning behind In The Night Garden’s opening words

It seems a lot of people – particularly in Australia, for some reason – are also wondering whether Iggle Piggle might be dead.

1. Where are the celebrities with epilepsy?

A hot question, and one I still can’t answer. I’d love to see someone famous “come out” in 2014 as having epilepsy as I think this would have a real impact on raising awareness and combatting stigma.

 

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