I’ve been on Twitter for a while mainly just to follow a few people and have something to do on my phone during the ad breaks. A few weeks ago, my sister Helen helped me to make more of it, showing me how to follow trends,using hash-tags etc and to find things that interest me. Being epileptic, one of the things I’ve recently added is Epilepsy Action. IT was amazing how many people I was suddenly connected to, it felt like a huge group therapy session; “Hi, I’m Jane and I’m epileptic”. Well, actually that statement doesn’t really cover it, you see there are many types of epilepsy and people are affected in different ways. Even if two people have the same types of epilepsy it can affect them differently. People are different,their brains and bodies are different as much as they are alike. That’s why it can be very interesting and helpful to talk to other people to learn from their experiences and try to understand what it is to be them and what they go through.
Any soap fans out there will probably have seen the Coronation Street storyline involving David Platt’s epilepsy. I’m not a soap fan but Mum had it on and I happened to catch that episode last week. Afterwards I was on Twitter to see what the reaction was, it ranged from “it was good acting” to “so that’s what a seizure looks like, I don’t get to see one myself” to people being quite disturbed even angry at the portrayal of the illness and the attitudes of other characters by a mainstream soap. My problem wasn’t the “seizure”, like I say, people have different ones, it was the afterwards part for instance a)if he was unconscious that long, would he really have recovered that quickly? b) The so called medical treatment/ advice he later received and finally c) the attitude of Sally Webster and others. Thanks a lot Corrie that’s really going to help dispel the stigma around the illness.
I can’t stand most of the characters in soaps anyway and don’t get me started on the acting, but this got me quite annoyed. I’m guessing Corrie is trying to get across the point that epileptics are still often stigmatised even in this day and age, but this left me feeling uneasy. Many people connected to Epilepsy Action felt the same, if not stronger towards it and it was rather upsetting to read some of the ways people had been treated in the past – one woman had even felt stigmatised by some of her own family. I agree with programmes raising awareness on issues such as health,racism,sexual discrimination etc but only if it’s handled appropriately. At the moment I’m not sure I agree with where Corrie is going with this especially with the millions of people who watch it every week. Are people going to assume we’re unsafe to be around children? I also hope it doesn’t scare or distress those newly diagnosed or parents of epileptic children.
With the right treatment, help and support from the medical community and loved ones people with epilepsy can lead a relatively normal life. Those suffering from severe epilepsy should be supported all the more, not have their lives made more complicated by ignorance and negative attitudes. There’s enough crap going on in this world without adding to the drama. So if you really want to know about epilepsy or any other illness or disability, find out for yourself. The information is out there. Don’t let fiction make you think it’s telling you all the facts.
I may be epileptic but epilepsy’s not me. It affects my life but it isn’t everything I am.
Thanks for reading .