Navigating Epilepsy: The Road Ahead

Parenting with Epilepsy

Father and mother holding child's hand

There are few “jobs” harder than parenting, and parenting when living with epilepsy adds another level of challenge to an already challenging undertaking, but with the right perspective and supports there is no doubt that you too can enjoy all the hope, rewards and joy that come from being a parent.
9 Helpful Tips For Parents Living with Epilepsy
1. Create a Balance- Both parenthood and epilepsy become a huge part of your identity and both can fight for control over your time, energy, and some days, sanity. Finding humor in everyday situations (as frustrating as they can sometimes be), understanding and addressing your children’s concerns about your illness, and making sure that you are taking care of your own personal well-being (as well as you care for others) are all crucial to finding that balance.
2. Know your limits- If you are having a bad day, order take out for dinner, ignore the dust-bunnies, and let the laundry go unwashed, it can all wait. Your health and well-being are more important than a dirty-dish-filled sink.
3. Don’t dwell on the negative- This is easier said than done, but understand that you are not your epilepsy. The ability to find gratitude in even the smallest things can change your attitude.
4. Alter your expectations- This one may be the toughest to accomplish. Your vision of what family life would and should be based on past ideas and hopes might need to be dramatically altered if you have epilesy. Even if it is not exactly as you had envisioned, life is a gift. Your children live in the present and need you to be present with them.
5. Practical Tip: Limit children to one manageable room (for younger children/toddlers)- If your children are younger and need more supervision this can be a daunting task for those on-the-go little ones. Fixing the environment (baby gates, closed doors, etc.) so that all of your small people are in one, easy to manage location within your sight lines, can keep things at least manageable.
6. Learn to accept the cycle of unpredictability- One day you may wake up and feel like you are on top of the world but the next day it feels as if the world is literally crumbling down on top of you. The needs of your children are constant, but your physical well-being may not be. Understanding this, accepting this, helping others around you accept and understand this can go a long way in reducing stress.
7. Join support groups- Reaching out to other people via support groups who are going through similar life experiences can provide the emotional support needed to get through the toughest of days..
8. Seek help from a mental health provider- Stress is a fact of life for everyone, but if you are suffering from epilepsy and trying to balance your role as a parent, you may justifiably be under even more pressure. There is no shame in asking for the help and guidance from someone in the mental health field.
9. Learn to put your needs ahead of your child(ren) and your spouse or partner- You cannot be your best for others if you are not your best for yourself. Find time for relaxation, yoga, meditation, gentle exercise, reading, a movie date with a friend, or whatever else brings you joy!

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