When Facebook was in its early stages, I once had a friend ask me why so many people found it necessary to post things about charities and causes they believe in. He felt that you can believe in anything you want, but did not understand why people want to tell the world about their beliefs. Being a person that did share my thoughts and opinions publicly, I was taken aback for a bit. I did not have an immediate answer, but since that time, I have come up with some reasons I have for sharing my views.
Ribbons of every color represent a variety of groups. The group I hold nearest and dearest to my heart is the group surrounding epilepsy awareness. The purple ribbon, while also representing other groups (there are only so many colors out there) has become a symbol of acceptance, love, understanding, and support in my family. Seeing a purple ribbon, especially in times when seizures are out of control, reminds me that our family does not stand alone, and that there is a whole community of people that truly know our worries and frustrations.
Beyond giving me and my family strength, epilepsy awareness offers so much to every community. Seizures can happen to any person, at any time, and usually do not give much warning. The more people that have some kind of education about seizures, the better off we all are. Staying calm, and having some kind of clue as to how to treat a seizure can be very helpful when one occurs. Seizures can look very scary, and having a person panic at the site of one will not be helpful.
Having people in your circle that live with the same thing as you can also give you insight. Knowing what types of hurtles others face can prepare you for your future, and can give you helpful questions to ask your doctor. When it comes to the brain especially, conditions and diseases become extremely complex. The more you communicate any thoughts and fears with your neurologist, the more understanding you have of what your seizures mean to you, and the more understanding the doctor has of you and your personal experiences. Talking with others can help you realize what symptoms you may have that are (or are not) related to epilepsy or the medications you use to treat it.
The stigma surrounding epilepsy seems to be lifting. In these last 20 years, it seems that more and more people I meet know someone that has it. I believe these ribbons we use to represent epilepsy and other conditions have helped people to talk about things we used to try to hide. People used to be ashamed to mention their struggles, and now we open ourselves up so that we are understood. If you know what I live with, maybe you will be kind when I am grumpy. If I know what you are living with, I will find patience when you have run out of it.