Our Wellbeing Worker, Bruce Shiell looks at epilepsy and low mood and ways in which you can change how you think and feel.
When you are told you have epilepsy, it’s completely normal to feel sad.
Coming to terms with a diagnosis of a long-term condition is not easy.
It is important to address how you feel. Having low mood may stop you from carrying on with your life as normal.
Also, it can have a direct impact on your epilepsy and how well your seizures are controlled.
For example, when you are feeling low, you may sometimes forget to take your medication. Some days you may not feel like taking your medication at all.
Sometimes people try and cope with these feelings by drinking alcohol or taking drugs. All of this can make your seizures worse. It can also make your mood worse.
Changing the way you feel can make a big difference to your seizures.
Over time, many people find it becomes easier to carry on with their lives as normal as possible.
When should you get help?
Everyone is different. Some people cope better than others with a diagnosis of epilepsy.
They soon begin to feel better without needing too much support. However, others need help with the way they feel.
They may continue to feel anxious, sad or angry. If you find that some or most of the below applies to you, make an appointment to see your doctor:
- You feel sad most of the time
- You begin to lose interest in the things you used to enjoy
- You no longer want to go out with friends and mostly prefer to be left alone
- You lose interest in your sex life
- You feel bad or guilty, for no good reason
- Your appetite has changed
- You find it difficult to get to sleep or frequently wake up during the night
- You feel tired all the time even though you sleep for many hours at night and during the day
- Friends notice that you no longer pay much attention to how you look
Sometimes people who struggle to come to terms with epilepsy think about suicide. They may find it difficult to imagine that things will get better.
If you have these feelings talk to someone. This could be a member of your family, a good friend or you can call Epilepsy Scotland’s freephone helpline on 0808 800 2200 Monday to Friday between 10am and 4.30pm.
If you are feeling suicidal, please pick up the phone and speak to someone. You can also contact:
- Samaritans – 08045 790 9090 (any time)
- Breathing Space – 0800 838 587 (6pm to 2am every day)
- SANEline – 0845 767 8000 (6pm to 11pm every day)
It may be difficult to imagine feeling better but speaking to someone will help.
Changing the way you think and feel
If you identify the things that may influence the way you feel about yourself, you will then be able to address these.
For example, if you are upset about restrictions to your life because of your seizures, talk to people who can help you put things into perspective.
There may be things you can do to adapt to the changes. This can be an adjustment to your job, or a leisure activity.
Don’t give up. Don’t listen to well-meaning people who tell you that you can no longer do certain things without good reason.
Remember, you are more than your epilepsy and you don’t have to be defined by it. Also, if you act confidently, people will react in a more positive way towards you.
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.
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. After a while, you will automatically focus on the positive.
Imagine a friend in the same situation
What would you say to them?
Try to be as objective, honest and direct as possible. This will allow you to step back and look at your own situation in a slightly different way.
If you are struggling with your epilepsy and feeling anxious, stressed or isolated, please contact our wellbeing service, which provides one to one support sessions, breathing and relaxation classes and access to professional counselling which can help improve your wellbeing.
For more information on this free service, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0141 427 4911.