This blog post is part of the Self-Care Movement hosted by Self Care Catalysts. Learn more at www.selfcaremvmt.com. Use hashtag #selfcaremvmt on all social media outlets.
What if I told you that you can change your life with Epilepsy by simply putting yourself first? If I also told you that practicing Self-Care would be the key to a more purposeful and fulfilling life while having a medical condition; would you believe me? I promise it is definately possible for most. Putting yourself first is not selfish but it’s NECESSARY if you want to take control of your health.
For a long time I solely relied on my doctors to make sure I was healthy, to make sure my seizures were controlled at all times. When seizures started to occur outside of my norm and the meds didn’t seem to catch them, I realized it was not JUST their responsibility. I had a big part in it and if I was not doing my part, there was no way I can help my doctors succeed at doing theirs. I have become a big advocate not only for Epilepsy but for Self-Care. I first had to identify my seizure triggers. I knew that if the meds were taken as prescribed and I was still having these seizures then I was failing in another area. What could possibly be the issue? It took a few months to realize what I ate, the climate, missed medications, physical activity and horrible sleep patterns all played a factor. Yes I miss doses of my meds. Hey I am human and well my memory also sucks! But if I wanted to be the best advocate for epilepsy awareness and if I wanted to make an impact, I had to first start with me. I am no good to anyone if I am not focusing on myself first. That has always been my Achilles heel, worrying about others before myself then I’m left feeling drained and broken.
Self-Care Starts with Me
Recently I shared with you all How my Fitbit helped me take control of Nocturnal Seizures. Montioring my sleep patterns has helped me physically. I envied folks that could sleep all day or could take naps at 2pm on a Saturday. But see my seizures won’t let me be that great. If I don’t get at least 7.5 hours of sleep per night, then the headaches start, the auras takes precedence. On the flip side, if I do get so lucky to be able to crash mid-day, my body and brain is like what is this? If you suffer from any type of epilepsy then it will be so important for you to pay attention to your sleep patterns.
Heat is not your friend! After coming from a long winter, one longs for some warmer air. See if it could like stay Fall or Spring all year long then I would be set. Uh but it doesn’t. So I have to make sure I’m maintaining a healthy, cool body temperature. Here in Dallas it gets up to triple digits in the summer. I’m talking 110 to 115 on a good day. That right there is not the business. I literally have to take breaks from outside multiple times if we are having a BBQ or anything that requires me to leave the comfort of A/C. Fluids, especially ice cold water, becomes my bestest friend!
Did you know that certain foods could be seizure triggers? For me, apples, grapes, excessive amounts of chocolate or caffeine, artificial sweeteners and more, can literally kick my Temporal Lobe Epilepsy into overdrive. I still eat chocolate every now and again but I have learned my limits. I mean I won’t sit there and eat loads of chocolate or drink 3 Cokes in a day but I do get something here and there. Shoot, I’m a woman and my body needs these things once a month LOL(That’s my story and I’m sticking to it) This calls for a change. I tried vegan for a while but being from New Orleans, I need my seafood in my life. My diet is more plant-based now and I cook a lot more. I could identify with the pescatarian lifestyle if I had to call it something. I also force myself to be more physically active. On the up side, lost some weight too! I’ve come to realize, if I can’t pronounce the ingredients then they don’t belong in my body. Period.
I made all of these changes and reported back to my doctor. I mean how can you want the medication to work if you don’t do your part. You really can’t do just anything and say oh my meds will cover it. It’s a process. Sitting down and focusing on your life, your health care and mastering it TAKES TIME! I didn’t learn all of this, recognize the triggers and fixes for them in a few days. It took months to notice when I do A than B happens. Listen to your body, it knows best.
How do you keep up with all of this Whit if you just said your memory sucks? Welp that’s where the Epilepsy Health Storylines app comes in handy! I am a tech addict and this app has definitely given me the freedom to be me and maintain my health at the same time. In this application I can log my meds, food, activity and just incase I do have a breakthrough seizure, I can log all of the information needed in the Seizure Tracker tool. That by far is the most important tool and it helps me to identify what I could have done or what could have possibly triggered that episode. Logging is key! Documenting every known change or behavior will definitely make you more aware and successful on this journey. In the Epilepsy Storylines app, you can also add a circle of support so you never have to feel like you are on this journey alone! Hey add me if you want!
Self-care is not selfish, it’s necessary! I know I said it before but that’s just how important it is to me and should be to anybody. Living with a chronic illness is never easy but given the right tools, you can absolutely make this work FOR you. And as always what works for me, may not work for everyone so ALWAYS consult with your doctor!