Purple Day past and present
Each year Purple Day gets bigger and better. Here Karen Newman-Brown, an IT Administrative Manager at Aston University who was diagnosed with epilepsy in October 2013, reminisces on last year's Purple Day.
In 2014 like many other people I organised a Purple Day event which was held at Aston University and included a tour of its Brain Centre. The Aston Brain Centre is a place where neurodevelopment is studied, but I was surprised at how little generally seems to be known about epilepsy. I feel that because epilepsy is a hidden condition and not as visible as other conditions it gets little media coverage contributing to a low level of epilepsy awareness. This is a barrier I intend to break down, within the university at least!
I am a mother of one teenage son and one daughter in her early twenties and grandmother of one. I was in my mid-forties with no other health issues when I was diagnosed with epilepsy in October 2013. Epilepsy not only affected me it affected my entire family and those who know me.
A difficult time
Purple Day 2014 was a difficult time for me as I had only had my diagnosis five months earlier. I'd collapsed at work and the next thing I recall was being in a hospital bed with monitors and all other kinds of probes and gadgets. This was pretty scary for me. I was really confused and unsure of what had happened until my diagnosis was confirmed.
Looking back, I'm sure that this time last year I had still not fully accepted my epilepsy, but I decided, along with many of my supportive colleagues, to raise awareness and money for Epilepsy Society on International Purple Day - March 26th.
I had already become a member of the charity in early January 2014, but February to March was a dark period for me, I suppose it was a sort of 'coming out' experience, trying to accept that I had epilepsy. I was having regular seizures at this time and I had one two days before the launch of our Purple Day event.
Raising awareness on campus
Family and friends were worried about me attending our Purple Day event as it takes me time to recover from a seizure, but I refused to let the team down as my colleagues and I had worked so hard to pull the event together. Our aim was to raise as much awareness about epilepsy within the university campus as possible. We were dressed in purple, sold purple cakes and gave out epilepsy information. It was a big success. The University's Vice Chancellor was also supportive and considering how involved she is with other areas of research and actually running the University, her encouragement and interest meant so much, not just to me but also to other people living with epilepsy at the University.
We've not got long to go now until Purple Day 2015. This year we are building on what we achieved last year. We want to engage with more people and raise awareness on a much bigger scale using social media. Good luck to everyone raising money for and awareness of epilepsy this Purple Day.