Yesterday, March 26, 2012 was Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness. MLA Guy Gentner rose in the house and shared a personal story of a childhood friend who had epilepsy. This friend and his parents wouldn’t talk about what was happening to him. Epilepsy has long been a stigmatized disorder due to various misconceptions and myths about what epilepsy is and what causes it. These misconceptions include fears of contagion, stemming from the idea that epilepsy is a disease rather than a disorder, and fears that epilepsy is a sign of psychological disorder, which it is not.
Epilepsy refers to a diverse set of chronic neurological disorders which are characterized by the occurrence and reoccurrence of seizures. A seizure is an event which is caused by excessive neuronal activity in the brain. Seizures vary in their manifestations: they may cause convulsions, loss of motor control, and temporary changes in psychic state. One seizure does not indicate a diagnosis of epilepsy; those with epilepsy have multiple seizures. Approximately 300,000 Canadians are living with epilepsy.
Purple Day was started in 2008 by young Cassidy Megan from Nova Scotia when she was just nine years old. Motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy, she sought to bring awareness to the disorder and, in so doing, destigmatize it. The movement Cassidy started is now recognized worldwide. For more information on Purple Day, and for information on ways in which you can support those with epilepsy, please visit www.purpleday.org and www.epilepsyfoundation.org .