Coming to terms with a diagnosis of epilepsy


Bruce Shiell, Wellbeing Worker at Epilepsy Scotland looks at how you can come to terms with a diagnosis of epilepsy.

When you are told you have epilepsy it’s completely normal to feel anxious, sad or angry.

Coming to terms with a diagnosis of a long-term condition is not easy. Often people struggle with this. Over time, however many find it easier to carry on with their lives as normally as possible.

Once you have begun to feel more positive, you may find that your seizures will also reduce. The more you look after both your mind and body, the better you will cope.

These are just some of the things you can do to help yourself coming to terms with your diagnosis.


Know as much as possible about your epilepsy

The more you know the less scary it is.


Find out your seizure triggers

Figuring out your seizure triggers can help you avoid them and may help prevent some seizures.


Stop negative thoughts

Stop negative thoughts before they turn into destructive statements. Some people find that saying ‘no’ aloud helps to stop these thoughts.

Replace them with positive thoughts. Over time, this will become a habit and you will start to feel better and help your wellbeing.


Focus on the good

Ask a friend to help you list all that’s good and bad in your life. When you are down it’s easy to see only the bad things.

A friend can remind you of all the positive things in your life. Once you have a list of all the good things, remind yourself of this several times a day.

If you do this for a while, you will automatically focus on the positive.


Learn how to deal with anger in a healthy way

Being angry is a normal emotion. How you express this though can make a big difference.

There are many techniques you can learn to help manage your anger better.


Recognise when you are angry. Try to keep calm and think about the situation first. Check out the facts – are they correct?

Do you really have to deal with this? If not, walk away from the situation.

Uncontrolled anger can be destructive to both yourself and those around you.


Take responsibility for your own health

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and doing regular exercise as well as getting plenty of sleep can have a positive impact on how you feel. It can also help reduce seizures.


Learn how to use breathing exercises

Learning breathing exercises can help let go of tension.

When you are stressed, your breathing becomes shallow. If it goes on over a long period of time, this can affect the amount of oxygen which is circulated around your body.

This in turn can affect your health and energy levels. When you feel stressed, take some slow and deep breaths.

Make time and do this several times a day.


Do things you enjoy

Take up a hobby or leisure activity. Try gardening, join a walking group, go dancing or play a sport… there is something for you to get involved in.

If you feel isolated because of your epilepsy, choose an activity where you meet other people.

Your doctor or epilepsy specialist nurse can advise you if it is safe.


Keep a diary of your moods

In the same way you keep a diary of your seizures, keeping a diary for your moods can help you learn and recognise what works for you.


Reward yourself

Whenever you’ve achieved something, treat yourself to something you enjoy.

This can help you focus more on the things you do well rather than those you don’t.


Take time to relax

Many of us are constantly on the go, trying to do too many things at the same time.

This can put you out of touch with how you feel.

Allocating an amount of time to relax every day is important. Simply going for a walk can change the way you feel.

Some people enjoy mediation, yoga or tai chi as a way of relaxing and winding down.

Find out what works for you and take regular time out for yourself.

This will make your life less stressful and will improve your health and wellbeing.

Our Glasgow based wellbeing service helps people who are struggling with their epilepsy, feel anxious, stressed or isolated. For more information, please email or call 0141 427 4911.