Turn the world purple and help raise awareness of life with epilepsy this Purple Day. We speak with one woman about the importance of the day to save lives.
Worldwide, on 26 March annually, Purple Day encourages conversations around epilepsy to help raise awareness of the condition and to fundraise.
Established in 2008 after Cassidy Megan, based in Canada, experienced struggles and isolation after being diagnosed with epilepsy, Cassidy launched Purple Day in order to dispel myths on everything from seizures to living with a hidden disability.
Over a decade later, Purple Day is a staple event in the calendar for thousands of people.
For many diagnosed with epilepsy, it can be an isolating time. However, in the UK alone, 600,000 people have epilepsy meaning they can experience seizures at any time.
Starting at any age, epileptic seizures happen when there is a sudden burst of electrical energy in the brain, causing temporary disruption to how the brain works.
Amy Southwell is just one person who will be raising awareness of epilepsy and sharing information on epilepsy first aid this Purple Day.
The route to diagnosis can be daunting and, unfortunately for Amy it was incredibly stressful. After six months of experiencing seizures, tests carried out by doctors continued to come back negative.
One final test, a Sleep Deprived EEG, which meant Amy had to stay awake for over 24 hours, led to diagnosis, she explains: “Thankfully this test led us to a diagnosis of epilepsy and as of February 2021, I am seven months seizure free.”
Purple Day is important for Amy as she knows that information on epilepsy can save lives. “It has saved mine more times than I can count,” continues Amy.
“When you have a seizure in public, you’re putting your life in the hands of strangers. I always tell people to imagine they are the person having a seizure in public and nobody was there to help.”
That is why events such as Purple Day are so poignant: to help shine a spotlight on life with epilepsy. “It’s really hard. It’s scary,” admits Amy.
“There are times when you’re scared to leave your bed because if you have a seizure then you’re safe in bed. It’s not just epilepsy that affects us; it’s anxiety, depression and occasionally, it consumes you.”
Alongside awareness, it is critical for the community to know they are not isolated in their experiences. “There will be times when you feel helpless, but everything will be okay,” emphasises Amy.
“Don’t bottle up how you’re feeling, talk to someone and research seizure first aid, too. Try to keep calm – you are not alone.”
Purple Day may look different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate, raise awareness, and go purple.
From sharing first aid information, spread information on the different forms of seizures, to connecting with others who may be feeling isolated, even virtually Purple Day will still be a success