Epilepsy Talk

12 Recipes For Happiness — Even If You Have Epilepsy! | January 23, 2018

“No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change.” — Barbara de Angelis

We all know that epilepsy is no day at the beach. You may feel depression, anxiety, fear, isolation, anger, or a whole host of other things, too may to mention.

But, if you dig deep into yourself, perhaps there’s a few things you can do to relieve those feelings.

Here are some ideas…

1. Laugh a little. Laughter can improve your EEG results!

Scientists traced the brainwave activity of people responding to funny material when hooked up to an EEG and measured their brain activity when they laughed.

In each case, the brain produced a regular electrical pattern. Because, less than a half-second after exposure to something funny, an electrical wave moves through the cerebral cortex.

Human beings love to laugh, and the average adult laughs 17 times a day, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

And laughter is catching!

In addition to the domino effect of joy and amusement, laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body.

It relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress. It dissolves negative emotions. It dispels anger.

After all, how can you be angry if you’re laughing? Or depressed.

2. Focus on the positive.

Too often, our negative experiences color our view of the past. Instead of focusing on all the times you have had seizures, think of all the times you haven’t and you are more likely to find that seizures constitute a small part of your life.

It’s often a matter of putting things into a more realistic perspective. For example, worrying about having a seizure in a certain situation is actually wasted energy, because the seizure may not even occur.

3. Gratitude is the attitude.

I actually make a mental list of things I am grateful for before I go to bed at night. Sometimes I write them down (just to remember when I get the blues and need a boost) and sometimes just thinking about them makes me smile!

Your attitude to epilepsy will influence your emotions and behavior. It’s possible to learn to substitute positive thoughts for negative thoughts. You know, mind over matter.

For example rather than saying to yourself “I am going to have a seizure, I know I am,” try thinking positively. The mind is a very powerful tool. Some people find that positive self-talk can actually prevent seizures.

4. Give to others. The satisfaction of helping others will boost your self-esteem.

Once you develop an inner strength and learn to help yourself, then try to be a mentor to others who suffer from epilepsy.

Go out into the epilepsy community and teach others how to live with their epilepsy from a positive perspective. Using the knowledge you’ve gained, will teach others how to cope with the fears, anxiety, depression and anger that is part of their lives. If we stay strong, it’s a wonderful role model and others with epilepsy will try to stay strong too.

For me it’s running a website and facilitating an Epilepsy Support Group. It’s my way of giving back, because I have been so fortunate and I want to help others.

And guess what, I learn from the other members! Together we are building a community of sharing, confidence and caring.

5. Talk, talk and talk. Educate others about epilepsy.

The first thing is to share your epilepsy and feelings with your family. Not so easy. Since many relatives are in denial, this might be a bit tricky. (My step-father was a surgeon and my step-mother was a psychologist and they never said the “E” word!)

One book that may be helpful is “Epilepsy: Patient and Family Guide” by the famous neurologist (and my idol) Orrin Devinsky.

Here’s an unbiased review: “A great neurologist took the time to write a book for those of us with epilepsy, our friends, and our families. He helps dispel many of the myths that exist about seizure disorders. Never patronizing and extremely informative, I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Devinsky’s book for anyone in need of information about seizure disorders.”

It’s also supremely important “to come out of the closet” and educate everyone you can: parents, of your own and other’s parents, nurses, teachers, employers, colleagues, EMTs, hospital staff, police, firemen, public personnel, prison wardens (I’ve heard some very grim stories), judges and yes, legislators.

6. Stop to smell the roses.

Be mindful of what surrounds you. Mindfulness may be described as the ability to pay deliberate attention to our experiences from moment to moment, to what is going on in our mind, body, simply, and without immediate judgment.

For example, focus on your surroundings. Whether it’s trees and birds, a beautiful building, people watching, a fabulous meal. Take yourself into the moment and leave your negative thoughts behind.

And don’t forget to make time for play!

7. Exercise

Regular physical exercise may have a moderate seizure preventive effect in 30-40 per cent of the patient population, while for about 10 per cent, strenuous exercise may provoke seizures.

Clinical and experimental studies have analyzed the effect of physical exercise on epilepsy. Although there are rare cases of exercise-induced seizures, studies have shown that physical activity can decrease seizure frequency, as well as lead to improved cardiovascular and psychological health in people with epilepsy. It’s a great tool since it makes you feel good mentally and brings positive physical changes in your body. Exercising clears the mind, and sometimes can soothe the soul.

8. Socialize

Hang out with positive people. Having someone in your immediate social circle who is upbeat increases your chances of happiness by 15 per cent. Why? Because happy people have the power to spread their feel-good vibes far and wide. Not only do immediate friends matter, but friends of friends, too. So make plans to have lunch with a friend or go for a walk together. It could put a smile on your face, besides what have you got to lose?

Slowly, reach out. It’s not hard to make friends if you put in the time. Listening, appreciation, caring and love will come back your way.

I look at friendship like a flower. The more seeds you plant, the more blooms will grow.

9. Music

Not surprisingly, music has also been found to have a profoundly positive effect on people with epilepsy. In fact, one research study even found that when patients are treated with music therapy as well as conventional anti-seizure meds, as many as eighty percent of seizures were reduced!

It may be because the brain doesn’t have any single center for processing music. Instead, the areas of the brain that process music are widely scattered. So, when the brain is subjected to music that is highly structured, such as Mozart’s Sonata for Two Piano’s, the brain process is actually aided. In fact, research has suggested that Mozart’s K448 piano concerto can actually reduce the number of seizures.

And amazingly enough, music played at a moderate or moderately fast tempo, without too many abrupt changes in dynamics (loud and soft) can aid in normalizing EEGs. That’s because it helps us to relax and ease tension, equalizing the brain waves. (Look for Concertos, Sonatas and Symphonies.)

Music can also change behavior. The right kind can turn depression into joy, anger to calmness, hate to love, and fear to courage. Beautiful music has an effect on all people and it can soothe and help take away feelings of frustration and anger.

10. Read

You might have trouble focusing, concentrating or even remembering what you just read, but give it a try. Start with cartoons or illustrations that make you laugh. (Don’t make fun of me, but I play “Mad Libs. It’s a hoot. And all you have to supply is one word.)

Then graduate to easy magazines like “People” or “Car and Driver.”  Next, try some easy to read “beach books” or sports books.

Someone has said, books are man’s (and women’s) best friends. You can take a temporary leave of absence from reality and bury yourself in one of your favorite books. A lot of wise people have been through what you’re going through and they made it through to the other side to tell about it.

11. Try something new and creative.

There can definitely be a creative side to the electrical mischief that epilepsy produces.  Some types of epilepsy can spark inspiration, enhance creativity and bring out the latent artist in you.  It can be as diverse as writing…painting…drawing…dramatics…architecture…philosophy…or physics…to name just a few.

Researchers claim that often these surprise talents are associated with temporal lobe epilepsy.  In this case, the sides of the brain, where memory and feelings reside, are intermittently seized by those “electrical storms” which produce the creative spark.

Although the seizures may be undetectable to observers, they can prompt hallucinations, religion, fury, fear, joy and an unquenchable desire to create, even after the seizure is over.

So you may not know it, but you may have some surprise artistic talents hidden away.  Give it a try.  Dabble a little. It’s exciting, energizing, rewarding, all-encompassing, and I must admit, a wonderful escape.  Like turning lemons into lemonade!

12. Dream a little.

Believe it or not, some of your aspirations can become reality. My parents told me I would never amount to anything. But even at the age of 14, when I sat on my grandfather’s knee and told him I wanted to be a writer, he took me very seriously. He was the only one who believed in me. But unhappily, he died soon after.

So I started my own business on his birthday. Just a little tribute to his love and support.

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  1. Good points Phylis,

    I think number one should be health, other then the big E, hopefully everything else still runing good. Second I would say being financially secure. Without those 2 life is miserable.


    Comment by Zolt — January 23, 2018 @ 1:11 PM

  2. So much of what you mention, if not all is so true to the reality of having seizures, especially the TONIC CLONIC / GRAND MAL type. Those seizures never changes the peoples minds of the outside world that judges you & pretends to be friends, as their actions speak LOUDER than their words. When rejections are obvious every time the same people are present, that alone makes you feel as if you’re never good enough, even as you’re not any bad person in any normal setting of where people gather. When yo may bring up something to talk about, weather or whatever,, it’s like ”’we see the weather outside dude”’ or whatever the topic gets talked about for 10 or less seconds. UNLESS you’re alone somewhere in the public & someone sees you doing something as myself I test foods at WALMART, COSTCO or wherever foods get sold. I was asked by a lady,,WHAT ARE YOU DOING THERE ? as I was testing a food. I explained myself & asked if she knew anyone who has seizures & explained what that testing proves, & HOW the brain & body chemistry relates to it all to the meridian & magnetic field of the body from toe to head. She was amazed how a simple test I was doing could warn me or assure me that a seizure may happen or will not happen if I did or did not eat a certain food. I try not to be noticed when I do that testing, but sometimes you can not avoid all the curiosity of people, who probably thinks you are crazy especially AFTER you tell them you can have a GRAND MAL seizure if you ate the wrong foods, because THEY do not live with it, as to WHY they think as they do as far as any of us being crazy. So I know that the testing that I do, does give me the PEACE OF MIND that I need to stay seizure free when I question myself if any food or drink I may want to have is SAFE for me or I learn I can not have it. No problem as I have the POWER to stay seizure free, no matter how different this world & the SEIZURE WORLD looks at me. BK BEHAVIORAL KINESIOLOGY by John Diamond MD may help anyone who’s read this, Sadly he’s no longer with us. He did change many lives.


    Comment by C D — January 23, 2018 @ 1:45 PM

  3. When I first saw the word ‘recipes’ my immediate thought was….actual RECIPES….as in things that can be eaten when one has a sore/injured mouth. LOL…this, where my head and brain is at right now as I am still in the healing process from my last Grand Mal. But seriously folks….I do agree, laughter, even downright silliness is always a great healer. I’m not one for poking fun at another person (unless I know them REALLY well) but I don’t hesitate to laugh at myself or situations that I find myself in. Yes, our disease is serious and has serious ramifications but it’s a GOOD thing to find joy in simple things, to find humor in the every day. Many, many hugs going out to all of you — my brothers and sisters on this journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Ellen LaFrancis — January 23, 2018 @ 2:20 PM

    • I think laughter is the music of life. It makes my world go round. Whether it’s about something or myself, it assures me that I still have energy and a quality of life!

      What better joy than joy itself?


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 23, 2018 @ 7:33 PM

      • Music and oh!! Don’t forget dancing!! There is some music that…..I just can’t stop myself….and it doesn’t matter where I am ROFL.


        Comment by Ellen LaFrancis — January 23, 2018 @ 8:09 PM

      • “Sing like no one is listening.
        Love like you’ve never been hurt.
        Dance like nobody’s watching,
        and live like it’s heaven on earth.”


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 23, 2018 @ 8:12 PM

  4. Reblogged this on catsissie.


    Comment by catsissie — January 23, 2018 @ 3:55 PM

  5. Much of this would also apply to our brothers and sisters with other chronic conditions, as well. However, rarely, when I post about epilepsy, do I receive replies, much less reactions. It’s almost worse than cussin’ out Jonas Salk! But it does put the word out there. 😉


    Comment by catsissie — January 23, 2018 @ 4:11 PM

  6. Yes, Music is wonderful therapy. If I am frustrated or under stress, all I have to do is to go somewhere and
    play piano, i.e. nursing homes, etc. Not only do the people enjoy listening, but it is also a great way to enable your body to reduce stress.

    I am also aware of the lack of knowledge of epilepsy and the effect it has upon epileptics. Part of my family was terrible- they hesitated to have me take part in some family activities- guess they ‘thought’ ??? I was
    lacking enough knowledge to participate in all the
    things they did. Funny thing- what had been kept secret for years was no surprise- a grandfather had iepilepsy and they had not made it known to my family- they could have at least explained situations and perhaps it would have helped each of us.

    If that was not bad enough, apparently my grandparent’s ‘minds’ weren’t working well. For years they had been confused so as to think it was a cousin suffering from it instead of me- always having to ‘let her have the toy’ etc. until one of the relatives finally realized it was me- far too late to have had much effect on the years growing up.

    I know some I had in my teens were definitely catamenial, as days leading up to as well as during the time, I would have miserable days.


    Comment by Karen — January 23, 2018 @ 4:25 PM

  7. Having to come to this Website & learn how to live with Epilepsy & read the experience of many members of this website coping & overcoming the challenging mechanism to manage seizures is probably the BEST RECIPE to treasure & make the most out life.
    As they say, INFORMATION IS POWER.
    Therefore, the healing begins knowing how to stay strong enough to cope with Epilepsy.
    The self-confidence built on solid strong information becomes the foundations for happiness to treasure & share with families, friends & social life.
    Thanks for sharing the highway to life with Epilepsy, charting & mapping a whole lot bigger picture to life than just seizures.


    Comment by BahreNegash Eritrea — January 23, 2018 @ 11:41 PM

    • Information IS power, Gerrie. And I think the more we know about ourselves and appreciate ourselves, the smoother the path to coping with epilepsy.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 24, 2018 @ 11:05 AM

  8. Hello,

    I would like to know if there is a way for my concentration in studying or work to be done better. By being more efficient and faster with confidence and not being stuck with being slowed down by my slow activity in my brain.
    It is really frustrating to me that you have to take time and i am scared because it is difficult to find a job already and a business is not fond if someone is being a slow learner, they dont care and have terminated me frimnseveral jobs already.
    So are there vitamins, supplements, anything put there to help?
    Please and thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by mirnalo — January 24, 2018 @ 8:58 AM

  9. Beautiful ❤️ I do all this. Am very grateful. Can accomplish this on my own very well . But when in the mix of family drama and friends, that don’t care and have their own problems. It’s very hard. I feel like I have always been there for everyone. When I need them now. They’re gone😢


    Comment by Jayne — January 24, 2018 @ 7:30 PM

    • Sigh. That happens with so many families. My family wouldn’t even mention the “E” word when I was younger.

      But, like you, I overcame their treating me like a pariah and made my own way to happiness.

      It’s difficult, but it’s possible…


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 25, 2018 @ 10:58 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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