Epilepsy is a common neurological disease that is defined by recurring convulsive or non-convulsive seizures. It’s a disease that an estimated 400,000 people in Australia are living with, yet the question is often asked: how many of us know what to do during an epileptic seizure?
Seizures can happen at any time and are due to a sudden burst of electrical activity in the brain that disrupts regular patterns and interrupts thoughts, feelings and movements. In 50% of diagnosed cases the cause is unknown. They are unpredictable and uncontrollable; however the episodes usually stop on their own or cease to happen with medication.
Seizures are physically and mentally debilitating, but it is often the social stigma surrounding them that is much harder to overcome. And it’s for this very reason that a 9-year-old Canadian girl decided to speak up about her own battle with epilepsy and start Purple Day in 2008. Cassidy Megan kept her seizures hidden from her classmates for fear of what they would think of her, but decided to speak out and let other kids her age with epilepsy know they were not alone.
By raising awareness during the month of March and by bringing facts about seizures to the forefront, Cassidy and her Australian affiliates, Epilepsy Australia, hope to remove the stigma attached to the disease and replace it with education, guidance and community support.
Purple Day falls on the 26th of March around the world, and it’s a great visual way to get people involved in raising awareness. In 2010, 100,000 school kids in Australia dressed in the colour purple, and they’re hoping for even bigger results this year.
To get involved you can volunteer to sell Purple Day paraphernalia, host a fundraising event of your own or simply spread the word by wearing the colour purple.