Epilepsy is a neurological condition that affects over two million people in the United States. It is "characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures" as the CDC puts it.
Epilepsy can affect anyone of any age, but it most commonly begins in children under age 2 and adults over age 65.
There is no cure at this point, but early diagnosis and management are key.
I saw a really great movie a few months ago called The Exploding Girl, which opened my eyes a bit about living with epilepsy. Now, the movie isn't really about epilepsy, but the lead character - played wonderfully by Zoe Kazan (love her!) - is a college student who has epilepsy, and it affects the way she navigates her everyday life and how she thinks about her future. It's worth a look, and what better time to raise your awareness than during Epilepsy Awareness Month?
So, how can you help? Well, first, you can raise your awareness about epilepsy, and here are a couple of resources on the web for that:
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Epilepsy and Seizures
Epilepsy Foundation: Now I Know
You can also increase your readiness to help someone having a seizure with first aid tips from the CDC. For example, the whole risk of swallowing one's tongue thing is a misconception, so you should never, ever put something in the mouth of someone having a seizure. More tips here:
First Aid for Seizures
The next thing you can do is lend your financial and/or vocal (and digital) support for organizations like these:
The Epilepsy Foundation
Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy
So, check out The Exploding Girl and tell your friends, or - better yet - watch it with some friends. Read a few facts from the websites I listed and start a conversation with some co-workers. I'll bet you that know-it-all guy at work doesn't know about the tongue-swallowing myth. Trust me: I'm that know-it-all guy, and I only just learned about it.
Mention something on your Facebook status or send out a tweet. Post a link to this blog or write your own.
Spread the word. Give what you can. Make a difference.