As you transition from childhood to adolescence, ‘fitting in’ becomes the new norm. Therefore, it is very likely that for a person living with epilepsy, this period is stressful. Naturally, it gets harder to find and maintain support groups who understand and care for you. There are several reasons why this happens. One theory is that that multiple seizures damage the frontal lobe, resulting in a lack of ability to form relationships. Secondly, the combination of having epilepsy and worrying about your self-image as well as your social image can cause you stress. You may have a fear of being embarrassed. Or you may be fearful of bullies. You will feel the pressure to excel at school. All of this and more can set you up for depression, low self-esteem, and abnormal behavior.
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SELF-ESTEEM TIPS FOR TEENAGERS
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder. Those with epilepsy have abnormal brain activity which causes seizures. These are uncharacteristic behaviors, sensations, and in some cases loss of awareness. Did you know that anyone regardless of race, sex, or age, can develop epilepsy? To be diagnosed, you must have two unprovoked seizures. What’s more? Epilepsy can be treated with the right medication and lifestyle adapts.
Here are some tips that can help ground you and boost your self-worth, as a teen living with epilepsy.
Manage Your Stress
Some common seizure triggers include overstimulation and stress. Adolescence is a volatile time. That’s because the pressure to conform conflicts with the need to be true to who you are. Trying to find balance can be stressful. But don’t worry, you can avoid it to a large extent with these tips:
- Journaling– Maintaining a journal helps you stay on top of your activities, classes, plans and more. It also provides you with an outlet to let go of your frustrations.
- Exercise– Irrespective of how old you are, exercising can be a geat stress releiver. But if you can’t handle strenuous exercise, try yoga, pilates, breathwork and meditation. These are just some of the various ways you can relax.
- Create routines– When you have a routine, you add structure to your day. This, in turn, help you pace yourself and take frequent breaks.
- Avoid stressful situations– Try to work around stressful situations and people. But in some cases, this may be unavoidable. In that case, prioritize your mental health, your sleep and medication schedule.
Prioritize Your Sleep
The changes in the electrical and hormonal activities in the brain during a sleep cycle are linked to seizures. While individual requirements vary from person to person, a teen living with epilepsy requires an average of 9-10 hours of sleep per day. Various factors can affect the normal sleep cycle, such as your mood, poor eating habits, and even the side effects of medication.
Here are some ways to help you improve the quality of your sleep.
- Maintain a good sleeping environment– Avoid using your bed for any other activities, so that your brain associates your bed with rest. Try and avoid using your phone or laptop for at least an hour before you sleep.
- Exercise– A vigorous routine in the first half of the day and gentle stretches in the latter help ensure a restful sleep. In other words, the more tired you are, the better you will sleep.
- No caffeine– Don’t drink caffeinated beverages for six hours prior to your bedtime. Soft drinks, energy drinks, tea and coffee will prevent you from sleeping soundly.
- Cultivate a good sleep routine– Swap strenuous exercise, heavy meals and screen time with light stretches, light snacks and book before you sleep.
- Meditate– When you meditate, your mind and body slows down. This helps you wind down in the evening.
- Wear a seizure monitor – Your parents and you worry about you having seizures at night. An epilepsy seizure monitor for sleep that you can wear at night will put your fears to rest. Take the Inspyre by Smart Monitor, for example. This app is one you can download on your cell phone and pair with your smart watch. When the gadget detects repetitive shaking movements, akin to seizures, it will alert parents or caregivers who can provide timely assistance.
Manage Epilepsy Seizures
As an adolescent, it is natural to want to take the reins of your life. But that requires you to take on a lot of responsibilities, including prioritizing your health and wellbeing. Here’s how you can manage your seizures effectively:
- Practice a healthy lifestyle– Eating the right foods at the right times, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly and getting your daily dose of vitamin D.
- Stay consistent with your medication– It is crucial that you don’t stop your anti-epileptic and anti-seizure drugs unless advised by your physician.
- Don’t pull all-nighters– A lack of sleep is known to trigger seizures. Getting a full 9 hours of sleep is essential to allow your body to recover from the stress of the day.
- Visit your doctor regularly– Your medication may need to change as your body undergoes physical changes. Visit your doctor’s office regularly so you stay up-to-date with your medications.
- Communicate with your caregiver– As a teen, you may feel like you can do it all. Still, it helps to confide in your caregiver so that they understand where you are physically and mentally. This can help then care for you accordingly.
School and College Epilepsy Concerns
Before starting your school or college journey, prepare yourself well in advance:
- Create a routine– You must monitor and adapt your sleep cycle, food and medication timings to your school hours. Do this a few weeks in advance to get your body accustomed to that routine.
- Do your research– Find out if school or college offers amenities like seizure-specific first-aid, counselling and support groups
- Talk to the authorities– Speak with your principal and teachers about your condition. You can also provide them with basic knowledge on how to help you or any other student living with epilepsy.
- Encourage conversations– Encourage conversations about epilepsy in educational institutions to debunk and demystify myths surrounding it.
As difficult as it may seem, understand that you are not this disease. You see, you are a brave, strong human being who just happens to live with epilepsy. There is a difference.