Plymouth Epilepsy Support Group

by Caroline Williams in Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

Plymouth Epilepsy Support Group
We did it
On 10th January 2019 we successfully raised £10,020 with 20 supporters in 48 days

I want to set up a weekly support group for people who suffer with epilepsy in Plymouth. There is no support group here.

by Caroline Williams in Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

From an early age I was diagnosed with epilepsy & spent much of my childhood in & out of hospital & on medication. As I entered into adult life I developed a passion for health & fitness, with this passion came an improved mood, more energy & less seizures. The more I focused on improving my diet, mind & body the better I became & I was able to control my illness through nutrition & exercise. After spending so much time researching the benefits of food & exercise on the brain and body, my passion became my career. I now run my own business as a nutritionist and wellbeing coach, teaching the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Epilepsy still affects me, I do not suffer from seizures very often, however the little under currents that run in my brain (epileptic activity) still affect me, in only a way that someone with epilepsy can understand. This is why it is called an invisible condition, everything you can't physically see, which is causing pain (much like depression, anxiety, crohn's disease, autism, PTSD, MS, migraines, fibromyalgia, the list goes on), such as daily headaches, low moods, mood swings, fatigue and insomnia, not to mention the side effects of medication.

On a positive note (this is why I want to help people), I have learnt and researched a great deal of ways to help with / overcome many of the side effects. The brain is very complex and often one of the biggest triggers to a seizure is stress. I have found I have only ever had a seizure when I have been stressed or ill. I have learnt that relaxation and happiness are keys to relaxing a stressed-out brain. In addition, I have also learnt, through much research, nutrition is key in feeding the brain what it needs to function, as well as possible and also aid recovery. A diet high in sugar, processed food and preservatives can also be a known trigger for seizures, as it is for any brain condition or auto immune disease.

When you combine happiness, physical activity, relaxation and nutrition you have the key elements of physical and mental wellbeing, great for your average person but even more important for someone with a complex brain condition or health disorder. I practice what I preach and try to focus on the positives as much as possible. I (mainly) eat a highly nutritious diet (balance is key, so I also enjoy myself too), I exercise, go outdoors as much as possible and try to surround myself with positive people.

The hardest part is not being able to talk to people who understand. I love my friends and family and am so grateful for their continued support, but they do not understand and it is not their fault. I have been on a journey with myself in the last month, where I pledged (on Facebook) to fully accept epilepsy (something I have always struggled with) for the 30 days of November. I have shared a post every day, from the positives to the hard times and the feedback has been truly amazing and touched my heart in such a way, I want to make a real difference. I feel I have connected with people who are going through the same issues and it has helped me immensely.

I decided I would join a support group in the city I live in (Plymouth, UK) to help myself and to help others, however there is no support group here and the nearest one is over one hour away. I made the decision to be the one who would make the difference (it only takes one person) and pledged, in my 30 day challenge I would set up a support group in Plymouth.

I want to use my skills and experience to help people. This is what I pledge to do with the money I raise

  • Weekly support for people with epilepsy and their families / partners by listening and being a friend who understands
  • Advice and tips on what I do and have learnt on my own journey
  • Set up activities that help with the mental health side of epilepsy (many people suffer deep depression and anxiety when diagnosed with epilepsy). These will include activities such as days out, walks on the beach, local woodland walks, cooking lessons and social activities. Anything that helps stimulate the mind and body, creating feel good endorphins and calming the brain.

I realise this will take time and money. The biggest barrier is money. I have the time and I have the belief and passion to make change happen. I realise it will not be easy but I really believe I can help make a difference, given the chance. Please help me raise the funds to get this project, so close to my heart, off the ground and truly make a difference to people who are suffering in silence. Any donation, no matter how small is sincerely appreciated. Thank you in advance.

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