Epilepsy Talk

12 Recipes For Happiness — Even If You Have Epilepsy! | March 29, 2022

“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. Reblogged this on Ken's Devotions.


    Comment by Kenneth — March 29, 2022 @ 1:05 PM

  2. This is so true I lost my nurse practitioner career at age 51 due to memory issues related to my epilepsy. It has been four years now and at first I was devastated but time has helped. We all must realize life is not a total bed of roses but times of peaks and valleys and we need to be there for each other at all times.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Amy Ketterer — March 30, 2022 @ 11:35 AM

  3. Hey all, PJ is 100% right about #7 and exercise. As a jogger, it only took me 25 years and an average of 2 times a year to figure out that I shouldn’t be doing this in summer heat. I’m fortunate denial didn’t kill me. This ended having to share my story with the EMT’s by the roadside. BTW, it’s been surprising for me how many EMT’s I’ve met who are not familiar with epilepsy.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Roy Anthony — March 31, 2022 @ 7:28 PM

    • Unfortunately, that’s the reason you hesitate before calling an ambulance. If the EMTs don’t kill you, the ER docs will. Together their knowledge about epilepsy and seizures is nil.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 31, 2022 @ 8:55 PM

      • I used to dance, work out, volunteer, play with my fur baby feline, sing especially when I needed that “why is everything ‘Hate’ aimed at me?! I’m exhausted from everything that I have done leave me ALONE!!!!!”

        I’d leave my television on for him before the paramedics and I finally left the apartment for the umpteenth time for Epileptic reasons and me dripping with blood … That’s how severe the Seizures were in the apartment that no one could get me out of….
        Until an idiot changed the locks of my own apartment when I was in the hospital for Epileptic reasons.
        I just went grocery shopping and paid my rent for the month!!

        How ignorant are people who play around as they have everything that “you” have and more yet they destroyed everything that you work for and stole so much that police didn’t start an investigation up until possibly a few years ago for mail fraud and identity theft!
        People who read my mail stole my mail from veterans and their families and are using their names in Canada when they are not!
        You’re saying worry about the EMTs?!
        What about the police?!

        I’ve run into a lot just to ask a question some are cordial and brush me off with a “here’s the general number if you need to ask the question….”
        I’ve had more tell me after I have Epilepsy “go back to the hospital and take some pills! That should be the way!”
        -female cop

        The last cop was last week and flipped out on me “What are YOU doing about YOUR Mental Health?!”
        I unturn repeated “you mean my Epilepsy?!”
        It took him a long time to actually say “yeah Epilepsy!”
        Then he just as the female cop told me he told me to take pills and the hell out of the station before he made me leave!

        I lost everything because of shit desturbers making up, building their rumors to be hate mongering almost killing my fur baby and I during Status Epilepticus from 2014 to 2017!
        Continuing to steal from me because they whoever these no respect creatures are continue to spread their bs and hide and use 2-way radios, connecting with phones, iPads, iPods and laptops oh and burn CDs from your own personal library where you live!
        They burned my teacher’s CD that I bought from him during class I don’t know how many times that person burned that Cd. Yet as a full CD was returned to me I wrote my name on it in BLACK permanent marker that I used for my art I bought from DeSuirs(?) by PetSmart, Tim’s, Winners and Mark’s!

        The animal control put my fur baby under “visitation rights”. For who I haven’t the slightest clue still! I found him! I rescued him! I adopted him and named him and took him to every veterinarian check up myself not one person came with me or offered!

        Just me!

        The worst of it being where I have being I’ve been told in several places that I’m “contagious”, I’m better off selling my life away no one will want me because I’m with disabilities et cetra…..

        If you don’t like your life … I don’t like Cyberbullying but it’s not a crime!!
        Bullying isn’t crime or else “Scared Straight” would work even for adults! I’m trying to do self care always have but life at least mine is empty without a fur baby feline!!


        Comment by T — April 1, 2022 @ 12:38 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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