by Poppy Kirwan, Northside Psychology Staff writer.

In Australia, 800,000 people will have lived, or do live, with epilepsy at some point in their lives, and it’s estimated that 65 million people have the neurological condition globally. Epilepsy is a disease that affects the brain and typically causes seizures. It’s important to note that seizures are a disruption of the activity in the brain, and not all seizures involve convulsions, as is widely believed. Certain seizures may be triggered by specific things, such as stress, illness, exhaustion, or missed medication. Epilepsy can be caused by a wide range of factors: while some cases of epilepsy are genetic, it’s more often that head trauma or abnormalities/infections of the brain are the cause — though approximately half of the people with epilepsy do not know the source. Despite the high numbers of those effected by the disorder, misinformation about epilepsy continues to persist. It's calculated that 1 in 3 people with epilepsy will continue to experience uncontrolled seizures even with prescribed medication. 

Purple Day exists to raise awareness about epilepsy and how we, as a community, are able to help and uplift the lives of those living with it. Purple Day was created by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan in 2008, who lives with epilepsy, and takes its name from the colour widely associated with the condition. Therefore, on March 26th, people worldwide are encouraged to wear purple as a way of spreading awareness and letting those with epilepsy know that they aren’t alone. It is also a means of raising funding for the cause and erasing epilepsy’s stigma. 

The theme for 2021’s Purple Day is: Unmasking Epilepsy. By clearing up the misinformation about the disorder, it will allow those with epilepsy to live more comfortably with reduced worry about judgement from their friends, peers, co-workers or community. For this theme, Epilepsy Action has held an Unmask Epilepsy Design Competition that closed on March 4th, centered around creating art for an awareness poster and face mask that helps to dispel myths. Designs must contain the color purple. The winner will be announced on March 26th! Details for said competition can be found at Epilepsy Action’s website

However, there are many other ways for you to be involved in Purple Day and raising epilepsy awareness. Throwing your own fundraisers and events is encouraged. The fundraiser can be with a school, business, or an individual event, and can be whatever you wish to choose. From barbeques to book fairs, lemonade stands, bake sales, flashmobs, sausage sizzles, and cinema showings. If you’re an educator in a school, casual clothes days and an assembly or class dedicated to epilepsy awareness are positive ways to bring awareness to youth. You can register your event as individualbusiness, or school on the Purple Day for Epilepsy website, and find suggestions for event ideas under the relevant subheading. If you don’t want to host an event but still want to raise money in support of epilepsy, Purple Day has a way that you can set up an individual fundraising page for the cause! Donating to Epilepsy Action Australia is another option with a positive impact. 

Even better is that Purple Day events are not just limited to March 26th — you can host a fundraiser for Purple Day at any time of the year! So, to celebrate people living with epilepsy and bring awareness to their experiences, be sure to participate in Purple Day 2021, even if it’s just wearing an item of purple clothing. 

Together, as a community, we can lessen the stigma of epilepsy and help make society more accepting and comfortable for those who live with the condition. For more information about the Purple Day event, visit the official website, and for more information about epilepsy, visit Epilepsy Action Australia.