Purple Day raises awareness of epilepsy challenges

Living with epilepsy has its challenges but Ballarat resident Kamina Handyside is no different to everyone else. 

The mother of three has just applied to enrol in a behavioural studies course at university and is looking forward to a bright and healthy future.

Having developed epilepsy in 2008 while pregnant with her second child, Ms Handyside found herself falling into dreamlike states and experiencing strange sensations and hallucinations.

After numerous tests and hospital visits she was diagnosed with right temporal lobe epilepsy, but finding a successful treatment took much longer.

“I ended up in bed for 30 days having 30 seizures a day,” Ms Handyside said.

“It certainly impacted our whole family.”

She also lost four years of memories, including during and after two of her pregnancies.

Today is Purple Day, an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness of epilepsy. 

On March 26 each year, people are invited to wear purple and host events to raise awareness of epilepsy, which affects more than 65 million people worldwide.

Ms Handyside said she hoped the initiative helped to inform the wider community about epilepsy and how people dealt with it.

“We’re not different to everyone else,” she said.

Ms Handyside can tell when she is about to have a seizure because she experiences an aura first.

She believes people do not realise the role that stress and anxiety play in triggering events, and that when one of her routines is broken it can potentially lead to a seizure.

Ms Handyside said seizures could be a frightening experience for children to observe.

Early on, she sought help from an epilepsy support network in Melbourne, which directed her to neurologists in the area and provided books about epilepsy for her children to read.

Unfortunately there is currently no such service in Ballarat.

“Each child is different and deals with it differently but the books were a great introduction,” Ms Handyside said.

“It would be nice if there was a network in Ballarat,” she said.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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