By Sharon Dolan D’Arcy
Iconic buildings and spaces including the Quadrangle in NUI Galway and Eyre Square will be lighting up purple on 26 March for epilepsy.
Epilepsy Ireland is inviting the Galway public to mark Purple Day on Thursday 26 March and support epilepsy awareness by wearing purple even during the coronavirus crises.
Purple Day, which is held annually on this day, is an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide.
Epilepsy Ireland depends on the annual fundraising initiative for much needed funds of €50,000 and is appealing to the public to continue their support this year. This can be done by engaging with #PurpleDay, sharing a story and encouraging friends to follow or like Epilepsy Ireland via social media.
Bearna based barrister and human rights advocate, Lorraine Lally who is a local member of Epilepsy Ireland supports the appeal for people to come together to highlight and help those affected by epilepsy, even at a time when many are self-isolating.
Ms Lally lives with epilepsy as a result of being a premature baby and is one of 60,000 people in Ireland with epilepsy. The neurological condition also has a major impact on family members and Epilepsy Ireland supports all families, carers and people who are living with epilepsy. She says:
“When a person is having seizures it can be terrifying so the support being provided is vital. Most families like mine will deal with the seizure at home and know what they need to do. They are aware that everyone who attends a (Epilepsy Ireland) meeting will know that confidentiality and privacy is respected. The community resource officer will often support people on an individual one to one basis.
Members of Epilepsy Ireland continue to operate help lines and answer emails despite coronavirus. The organisation is unique in having community resource officers nationwide who are available by phone and email. Locally, group support meetings are held for people living with the condition in Galway city and county.
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma around the condition. Ms Lally says:
“For people with epilepsy there can be stigma attached. Epilepsy is often not discussed with friends and work colleagues. I know that for those living and working with epilepsy there is fear of discrimination. For some of us the fear of a seizure hangs over us with the condition.”
An estimated 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy which is the most common neurological condition in the world effecting the brain. Epilepsy can be present at any age although its onset is most often in childhood or in the later years of life.
Many living with the condition find that stress can be a trigger for seizures. Seizures cause a change in the functioning of the brain and may take many different forms including a blank stare, muscle spasms, uncontrolled movements, altered awareness, odd sensations, or a convulsion.
They can vary for each person and may occur rarely or as often as numerous times a day. If the condition is successfully controlled by medication, a person may be seizure free.
For information on Purple Day see www.facebook.com/donate/193073258802730 or http://www.epilepsy.ie/content/purple-day-support-our-campaign