Epilepsy Talk

12 Recipes For Happiness — Even If You Have Epilepsy! | June 11, 2019

“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. Hanging around positive people helps me a whole lot.but I have a problem.my mama is a very negative person.I even have seizures just by talking to her on the phone are if I hang out with her.and I don’t know what to due.my husband and I have talked to her.even her preacher has.but she’s still a very negative person and she loves to talk about the past which makes my sensures even come on stronger

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Angela carter — June 11, 2019 @ 4:32 PM

    • Toxic people do toxic things.

      Can you limit your interactions with your mother?

      That, unfortunately, is what I do.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 11, 2019 @ 4:53 PM

  2. What if your family are dumb ,,,,. When I was a child my brothers and sisters would go out on a Saturday ect. My father seen me playing with a toy car.he came and gave me a hiding because he could see me making more washing for my mother.i studied maths .top of the class at maths.my mother had me drugged out with a lot more epilepsy tablets so I would not work out she was 15when preganent with my oldest brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Lance Minnis — June 11, 2019 @ 9:28 PM

    • Look at it like this: You defied the odds and succeeded where no one expected (or even allowed you) to prosper.

      Top of the class in maths is an accomplishment to be proud of!


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 12, 2019 @ 9:36 AM

  3. Obviously, surviving epileptic seizures & selfish social stigma of inconsiderate society is certainly NOT for the frail soft heart.
    It takes uncompromising drive, strong willpower & heroic determination to beat the odds.

    Thanks for another inspiring, encouraging & empowering article for Epilepsy victims to see beyond the medical hardships & social stigma that had been making life too difficult to bear for many Epilepsy victims for centuries.

    Living with Epilepsy & overcoming the hardships of every epileptic seizures for the last 20 years had helped me to find out my true relatives & friends, who would stand by my hospital bed rooting out for me & who’re the fake once, who could careless to know about the adversity I managed to overcome.
    Appreciating the selfless relatives, friends, fire fighters, rescue crews, doctors & nurses,,, who came to my rescue when I desperately needed emergency medical attention has brought me a lot of joy & new friends, looking at Epilepsy from different perspective & looking at the light across the tunnel, making me to believe that no one can make me feel miserable, without my consent, eliminating any potential abuse.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by BahreNegash Eritrea — June 13, 2019 @ 3:13 AM

  4. I think being your own person is one of the best reasons for happiness. And the self-confidence that comes along with it.

    You’ve had a really rocky road. But being able to appreciate it…and the people who led you, helped you, loved you…fosters its own brand of happiness.

    I’m happy for you Gerrie.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 13, 2019 @ 9:51 AM

  5. Hi there, thanks, great research and suggestions!
    God bless you.
    I have realistic fears about stairs and avoiding stressful situations that are trigger’s.
    Love the research about music!!
    I’ve found Christian worship really helpful, the peaceful kind is best for me.
    Thanks again for sharing this with me!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Nancy — June 20, 2019 @ 11:53 PM

    • Nancy, thanks for the compliment.

      Here’s an interesting fact:

      Great music, when carefully selected, can change our moods, energize us, calm us, improve our mental focus, lift us up spiritually, and help us become more healthy.

      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 by seventy-five percent!


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 21, 2019 @ 10:33 AM

  6. Living a HAPPY life is all but impossible when seizures are always tormenting your life, to the degree that you have no life. So being HAPPY is not what anyone needs to strive for because to have happiness 24/7 is always based on having everything / the circumstances of life to be normal or better than that, to perfect. So Who meets those standards to be HAPPY 24/7? The next seizure will destroy that, but there is always JOY that has nothing to do with circumstances & everything being perfect, as knowing my life is not going to be here when the RAPTURE is going to happen sooner or later, & I know at that second, which will happen quicker than you can blink your eye, my seizures will be gone forever and I am instantly no longer here, with the worlds ways & system, as the 7 year tribulation is not going to be for me, unless I am to come back in the last 3 & 1/2 years of it which I doubt that I could teach anyone anything then, if what I say now gets ignored about anything to everything I know about. As the saying goes,,You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Only thing to be HAPPY about is that you have JOY for life, here & in Heaven.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by C D — July 6, 2019 @ 1:16 PM

    • NO ONE CAN BE “HAPPY” 24/7.

      And if that is your goal, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

      But yes, I agree, there is joy to be found in faith.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 6, 2019 @ 4:22 PM

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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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