Author Archives: Darryl

Great Canadian Giving Challenge

June 1, 2023

Every $1 donated in June is a chance for Epilepsy Durham Region to WIN!*

Are you ready to make an impact in the fight against epilepsy? This June, you have the power to make a real difference by joining the Great Canadian Giving Challenge! By donating to our charity for epilepsy awareness, you’ll be helping us to raise critical funds to support individuals and families affected by this condition.

Epilepsy is a serious neurological disease that affects thousands of people across Durham Region. 1-in-100 people have epilepsy, in fact. It can cause seizures, cognitive impairment, and a host of other challenges that can impact every aspect of a person’s life. But with your help, we can provide resources and support to those who need it most.

Donating to our charity is easy and secure, and every dollar counts. With the Great Canadian Giving Challenge, your donation could even help us win a $20,000 prize to further our mission! So don’t wait – seize this opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of those affected by epilepsy. Join the Great Canadian Giving Challenge today and help us spread awareness and support for this important cause.

It’s easy to join the Great Canadian Giving Challenge!
To get started, click the Donate Now button to be taken to the CanadaHelps Donation form.

DONATE NOW

Terms & Conditions

* Donations must be made via www.CanadaHelps.org. Minimum $3 donation required. Eligible Charities will automatically receive one (1) entry for each dollar donated to the Eligible Charity through CanadaHelps.org, including the CanadaHelps direct site for Canadians, customizable donation pages, P2P, events and other campaign pages created by a registered Canadian charity using the CanadaHelps system, and monthly donations processed during the challenge period (each, an “Entry” or collectively, “Entries”). Contest runs from June 1, 2023 at midnight Newfoundland Daylight Time (NDT) to June 30, 2023 at 11:59:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). See full rules at: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/givingchallenge-rules.

Understanding Epilepsy and Mental Health during Mental Health Awareness Month

May 24, 2023

Each year, Canadians recognize May as Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a time to educate ourselves about mental illnesses and the many impacts they can have on a person’s life. Epilepsy itself is not a mental illness, however studies show that individuals living with epilepsy have an increased incidence rate of many mental health illnesses including depression and anxiety.

  • It is estimated that the prevalence of depression in association with epilepsy is as high as 55% 1
  • Studies suggest 33% of people with epilepsy recall having encountered enacted stigma/bullying while 90% admit to experiencing felt stigma 2
  • Prevalence of suicide ideation among people with epilepsy ranges from 2.5 to more than 7 times that of the general population, with a rate of completed suicide of more than 30 times the global estimated rate 3
  • Up to 25% of people with epilepsy live with a generalized anxiety disorder 1

It can be difficult to understand whether mental health impacts on individuals with epilepsy are based on how epilepsy affects their life, or more directly how their brain is affected by seizures. While it can be hard not to focus on the ‘why’, we encourage individuals facing mental health challenges to focus on steps to help manage their symptoms. Here are some strategies that may be helpful for people with epilepsy facing mental illness and mental health challenges:

Reach out to your local Community Epilepsy Agency: Many local agencies offer programs and services directly related to mental health challenges and epilepsy including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy based programs and counselling. If your local agency is not currently providing the appropriate programming, they may be able to direct you to another epilepsy agency that is, or other mental health resources in your community. (Click here to find your local agency in Canada)

Never underestimate the power of a support group or peer-to-peer support: Living with epilepsy can be incredibly isolating; support groups offer a safe environment to share challenges, fears, triumphs and more.

Journal about more than just your seizure activity: It is important to track seizure frequency for many reasons, but it is also incredibly important to pay close attention to your day to day mood, behaviours, and quality of life. Share details about your mental health with both your general practitioner, as well as the specialist managing your epilepsy.

Know that you are not alone: Please connect with Epilepsy Durham Region if you have any additional questions.

Please note, if you are concerned about your mental health, please consult your doctor as soon as possible. If you or someone you love is in crisis, please connect with your local crisis centre (Durham Region: Durham Mental Health Services – Crisis Response | 1-800-742-1890).

  1. Jackson, M J., and D Turkington. “DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY IN EPILEPSY.” Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 2005, https://doi.org/10.1136/jnnp.2004.060467.
  2. “Epilepsy: A Public Health Imperative.” WHO International, 13 Jun. 2019, www.who.int/publications/i/item/epilepsy-a-public-health-imperative.
  3. “The Black Dog in Your Waiting Room: Screening for Depression in People with Epilepsy.” EPIGRAPH, vol. 21, no. 4, 2019, https://www.ilae.org/journals/epigraph/epigraph-vol-21-issue-4-fall-2019/the-black-dog-in-your-waiting-room-screening-for-depression-in-people-with-epilepsy

Epilepsy Durham Region wants to hear from YOU!

May 24, 2023

At Epilepsy Durham Region, we value the feedback of all the individuals and families that connect with our organization for supports and services. We would like to hear how you think we are doing. Please complete the short survey below to help us learn how we can continue to improve.

Epilepsy Durham Region’s 2023 AGM: Community Connect Segment

May 16, 2023

Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) brings together members of Epilepsy Durham Region to recap the previous year’s accomplishments, discuss future goals, and elect officials. For this year’s AGM, we invite you to participate in the Community Connect Segment. The keynote speaker will be Doug Smith, the General Manager of Solutions for Microsoft Canada, speaking about his journey with epilepsy.

We are honoured to welcome Doug Smith as our keynote speaker for our AGM. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, May 30th at 6:00 pm to participate in this virtual event and be inspired by his story. If you’re interested in more information, please email us at info@epilepsydurham.com.

Doug is responsible for leading a world-class team of Microsoft cloud and product technology specialists, and he also lives with epilepsy. Doug will share his experience with epilepsy and how he overcomes the various challenges that are involved. Be prepared to hear insightful and encouraging stories of how he refuses to let epilepsy hold him back and instead uses it as fuel to propel him forward in life.

Doug Smith highlights the importance of awareness and advocacy for individuals who have epilepsy. He encourages people to view epilepsy not as a hindrance but rather as an opportunity to create a more inclusive society that values diversity and empowerment.

His personal stories and experiences are a testament to his strength and resolve, providing a shining example of overcoming adversity. Doug’s story of resilience and determination serves as an example to us all that even in the face of challenge and adversity, we can overcome and achieve our goals. We are grateful for his participation in our event.

Volunteer Appreciation Spotlight: The Douglas Family

May 2, 2023

As we wrap up national Volunteer Appreciation month, Epilepsy Durham Region has taken some time to reflect on what our volunteers mean to our effectiveness, the support we are able to provide, and ultimately the overall success of our organization. As a small staffed non-profit, Epilepsy Durham Region knows that we would not be where we are without the dedication, passion, and kindness of our volunteers. Simply put, volunteers are the backbone of Epilepsy Durham Region, helping it to thrive, have its heart shine through and its mission delivered, and we would like to take some time to highlight the commitment of a local family that personifies the goodwill, motivation, and philanthropy of volunteerism – the Douglas family.

Epilepsy Durham Region could not be more grateful for our connection to the Douglas family – Cris, Robyn, Ryan, Matt, and Kyle. Their generosity is equally matched by their upbeat energy, and innovation. No matter the initiative, event, or ask, members of the Douglas family are first in line to offer advice, skill sets, time, and a hand. They have played a pivotal role in Epilepsy Durham Region launching new, successful events, and offer a sounding board as we look to strengthen our organizational goals and direction. Most recently, their kindness has been felt in a huge way as we have adapted to recover from the pandemic and our transition away from our office space; with every turn they offer their support, space when we need it, and even the boxes to house our belongings.

The Douglas family motivation, drive, and commitment to community is unparalleled and the impact of their generosity is seen in the success of our programs, and the faces of the families with epilepsy that we help. Here is the amazing part – their volunteerism doesn’t stop with Epilepsy Durham Region. You can find a member of the Douglas family attached to so many amazing causes throughout Durham Region. Whether they are chairing a Board of Directors or committee, or riding their bikes for entire days at a time to raise much needed funds, they are always looking for new ways to be helpful.

It is hard for Epilepsy Durham Region to find words to portray how grateful we are to know the Douglases, but it is safe to say that we consider them family and feel forever indebted to the altruism that the Douglas family exemplifies.

Seizing Hope

February 28, 2023

A Short-Film Documentary Screening

In partnership with Durham College, Epilepsy Durham Region is hosting a short-film screening event for the mini-documentary, “Seizing Hope – High Tech Journeys in Pediatric Epilepsy”.

Please join us and the Durham College Epilepsy Association to watch the 30 minute short film, and a short panel discussion followed by a Q & A.

This screening event is the perfect opportunity to learn, connect with others, and celebrate Epilepsy Awareness Month!

Friday, April 21st, 2023 | 6:00 pm

Please register by April 14th, 2023 to reserve your spot!

Location: 2000 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa

The Center For Collaboration and Education (CFCE Building) | Global Classroom

Film Synopsis

This mini-documentary is a story about hope for children and their families in mitigating and treating pediatric drug resistant epilepsy (DRE). It is a story about how families learn to trust their medical team, educate them, and help them consider neurotechnology options for their child. It is a story about empowerment as loved ones shed light on the ethical factors that led to their decisions. In doing so, they empower other families that face similar challenges to theirs. 

It is a story of how children and families affected by DRE can seize hope in times of darkness for a better quality of life. 

EPILEPSY DURHAM REGION HAS MOVED OUR OFFICE LOCATION

February 24, 2023

Epilepsy Durham Region has made some BIG changes!

In light of changes put in place as a direct result of COVID-19 and public health recommendations throughout 2020-2021, Epilepsy Durham Region has made the decision to leave our physical office location in Whitby. Epilepsy Durham Region loved calling the Town of Whitby our home for over a decade, but are excited for our new setup and what the future holds. Our Team will continue to work in a hybrid environment, providing service to our community in both a virtual and in-person capacity.

We thought we would take some time to explain these new changes, and what they mean to our clients. Here are the facts:

Epilepsy Durham Region can still be reached at the same contact information

Our telephone number remains the same (905.430.3090), and we are happy to continue to return your calls within 5 business days.

Our email addresses also remain unchanged. If you are looking to connect with Epilepsy Durham Region staff, please do so using info@epilepsydurham.com, use the general inquiry form on our website, or visit the ‘About Us’ page on our website for specific email addresses for our team members.

Changes to our physical address DOES NOT mean changes to our programs and services

Epilepsy Durham Region is proud to continue offering all of our programs and services in the same capacity, even with the change in our physical location. We continue to access our programs and services, and look for new service delivery models to ensure our programs are accessible and run as effectively as possible to meet our client needs.

Interested in what programs are a good fit for you? Please email: info@epilepsydurham.com

We have a new MAILING address

If you are looking to mail something to Epilepsy Durham Region, please note that our new address is as follows:

Epilepsy Durham Region PO Box 1, STN Main
67 Brock St. W. Uxbridge, ON L9P 1M6

**Please note, this is a mailing address only, and Epilepsy Durham Region Team members do not provide service at this location – it is not a drop in facility.

We still LOVE to see you in person

The Team at Epilepsy Durham Region loves the opportunity to connect with our clients in person. If in-person meetings are best for you, please work with an Epilepsy Durham Region Team member to schedule an appointment for an in-person meeting. Please note, in-person meetings are to be booked a minimum of one week in advance.

We would like to extend a very special thank you to the amazing staff at CRCS-DKI and the Douglas family, and the volunteers that helped to make our move as smooth as possible. And a big thank you to YOU for your patience as we adapt to our new transition.

Get Ready for Epilepsy Awareness Month this March

February 19, 2023

Epilepsy awareness starts with you! Are you wondering what you can do this year to help spread awareness about epilepsy? Epilepsy Awareness Month is all about bringing attention to epilepsy and to help break the stigma about epilepsy myths and misconceptions. We are sharing some ideas to help you find ways to help educate others about epilepsy. 

During the month of March, and Purple Day on March 26th, we want you to get creative. Firstly, take some of these ideas and resources, even expand on them or come up with something that is going to work for you. Secondly, send us your pictures or let us know what you’re doing so we can share with our community. Finally, if you need our help in anyway, reach out as soon as possible!  

Ways that you can help: 

It’s time to start planning your own fundraiser for March. And WE’RE HERE TO HELP! We’ve created an entire webpage for you to get started with fundraising tips and tricks: 

  1. Choose your challenge 
  1. Set up your fundraising page 
  1. Set a goal 
  1. Start fundraising – and amplify your efforts using all the tips on our website 
  1. Start with our Tips & Tricks 

Fundraise. You may choose to sell purple cupcakes, jewelry, artwork, or another purple creation, for example. Since 1 in 100 people have epilepsy, do a fundraiser where you will do 100 of something like walking for 100 minutes, swimming 100 meters, climbing 100 stairs, etc.) Use our NEW fundraising page to find more ways to support your fundraising plan. We have some real-life examples of our community members raising $1000s of dollars by doing these types of activities. Ask us for help or for more information! 

Wear purple!

Most importantly, wear purple throughout the month of March, especially on “Purple Day” (March 26th), to show your support.

Encourage Purple Day activities in your child’s classroom on March 26th. However, because Purple Day lands on a Sunday this year, you may choose to do these activities on Friday March 24th. One in one-hundred people across our city have epilepsy, and many more are affected by its impact on loved ones, thousands of students across Durham Region are directly impacted by epilepsy. So, encouraging the school or classroom teacher to bring attention to Purple Day would mean so much to many families. 

Bring Purple Day posters to your workplace. Use our posters or make your own Purple Day signs and decorate your windows or office door. Make sure you send us pictures! Wear something purple on Purple Day, and encourage your colleagues to do the same. 

Share your story.

Talk about epilepsy with others, or email us with your story. Tell people in your circle about your journey with epilepsy, if you feel comfortable. A great way to end the stigma is to start showing people that epilepsy is not something to be fearful of, and to answer their questions. 

Share educational content about epilepsy on your social media accounts. To make it quick and easy, simply follow us and repost/like/share our content. 

Shop!

The Epilepsy Shop, brought to you by Epilepsy Ontario, supports your local Epilepsy Organization by entering your local regional code at checkout. When you do, you will receive a 15% discount as a thank you. Epilepsy Durham Region’s code is “002”.  Shop Now! 

Donate.

When you donate to Epilepsy Durham Region, we can continue our programs and services to support those in our community who are living with epilepsy. We depend on the generous donations from community members just like you. Without your generosity we couldn’t possibly run all the free support programs and services for people living with epilepsy. You can make a difference and donate to Epilepsy Durham Region today. Learn about all the ways to donate here

Thank you for helping spread awareness about epilepsy and for making our community a more inclusive and safe space for everyone. 

What is Purple Day and How it got Started:

Purple Day is an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide. On March 26th annually, people in countries around the world are invited to wear purple and host events in support of epilepsy awareness. Last year, people in more than 85 countries on all continents participated in Purple Day! Canada is the only country in the world who officially recognizes March 26th as Purple Day through the Purple Day Act implemented on June 28, 2012.  


Cassidy Megan created the idea of Purple Day in 2008, motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy. Cassidy’s goal is to get people talking about epilepsy in an effort to dispel myths and inform those with seizures that they are not alone. The Epilepsy Association of The Maritimes came on board in 2008 to help develop Cassidy’s idea which is now known as Purple Day.

www.purpleday.org

Self-Care Tips for 2023 to Live Well with Epilepsy

January 29, 2023

It’s important to implement self-care activities into your daily life. When you have epilepsy, it becomes necessary to reduce stress and control anxiety. Just a few small changes can have a big impact. Overall, having a routine of a combination of these self-care tips for 2023 to live well with epilepsy is one of the best ways to maintain physical and mental well-being. It’s time to start a self-care routine where managing epilepsy is your priority – this will give you a purpose to stick with the plan.

Having a self-care routine is an essential piece of improving your mental health, but it is not a substitute for appropriate therapy and professional mental health support. So, if you are struggling with your mental health, please seek professional medical help. If you need support regarding epilepsy resources and don’t know where to start, please contact us at info@epilepsydurham.com.

1. Eat a healthy balanced diet and do not skip meals.

The most sustainable way to get better nutrition habits is to find enjoyable ways of eating that support your goals. Eat adequate amounts of protein and whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Start a meal planning and prepping guide to make sure that you don’t resort to last-minute fast-food options. You can create a basic grocery list of healthy foods you eat on a weekly basis, and simply rotate the ingredients to build your meals. Don’t forget to pack your lunch – this will help you eat healthily and save money while doing it.

Some people with epilepsy benefit from a ketogenic diet which has been proven useful, especially in children. Specific epilepsy diagnoses may even benefit more from this restrictive diet. Before beginning the Keto diet, it is important to contact your doctor as close monitoring is required.

2. Avoid and manage your seizure triggers.

Do not miss doses of your medications, get enough quality sleep, drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. This isn’t all-inclusive, and each person should take their own triggers into consideration. If you need support with identifying your triggers, you can discuss this with your healthcare professional. If you need advice on how to manage your triggers, you can connect with us, it may be beneficial to join one of our support groups.

3. Get some exercise.

You don’t need another fitness trend that is unsustainable, it’s better to look for enjoyable ways to get moving. Getting outside and interacting with nature, such as going for a walk, is a very relaxing activity and offers many benefits to your body and mind. In many cases, physical activity may improve seizure control because it improves one’s overall health.

Most sports and activities are safe for those with epilepsy, however, remember that there are some precautions that people with epilepsy must take. For example, don’t go swimming alone or make sure that the exercise area is cushioned in case of a fall. Exercise is important for both your physical health and mental well-being so get moving and have fun while doing it.

4. Find a way to get involved or have something to focus on.

One of these things could be to volunteer with Epilepsy Durham Region. You could offer different ways to help raise awareness about epilepsy. Getting involved will help you build a community of support where you can talk with other people living with epilepsy about your struggles and get advice from them.

Epilepsy Durham Region has many different types of support groups that are accessible such as caregiver support groups, adult support groups, youth advocates, and more. You could also pick up a hobby, this would be something personal to you that you enjoy doing, it’s for your own relaxation and done during your leisure time.

5. Get organized.

If only it were that easy! It seems that organizational tools and gadgets are all around us, but so hard to implement and use, but there are some ideas you may not have thought of. One idea is to use a digital calendar that you can always access on your smartphone, you can even share them with family members so that you can coordinate your appointments. You can log your medications and set reminders to take them, with apps on your phone, to make sure that you never miss a dose. It’s also helpful to have a daily routine to help you stay organized so that you keep up with small to-do’s each day and you aren’t overwhelmed at the end of the week.

5 Tips for Staying Safe this Halloween

October 30, 2022

It is Halloween and we know that everyone loves putting on costumes and going out in their neighbourhoods trick-or-treating, receiving as much candy as possible!  Most people with epilepsy can go out and experience the joys of these traditions. However, there are some things that can be done to mitigate the risks associated with all the change and excitement. If trick-or-treating is in your plans, then be sure the child is with an adult or older child who knows what to do if they have a seizure. We’d like to share some other ways that you can make sure that everyone stays safe and healthy. Follow our 5 tips for staying safe this Halloween while still having a fun time.

  1. Get Enough Sleep: Since sleep deprivation is a very common trigger for seizures, it’s important to make sure you aren’t staying out too late. Stick to your normal sleep schedule as much as possible, and don’t deter too much from your regular bedtime even when you’re having lots of fun.

  2. Take your Medications: Another top trigger for causing a seizure is missing medication doses. Make sure that you continue to take your medication at the same scheduled time as prescribed by your doctor. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re out having so much fun, so bring your medication with you and set an alarm so that you remember when it’s time to take your dose.

  3. Avoid Other Triggers: In line with the top triggers like lack of sleep and missing medication doses, we would like to remind you to avoid any other known triggers for your seizures.  For example, some haunted houses or decorations may include flashing lights, so if you have photosensitive epilepsy, avoid going near these situations. Another example, that adults may encounter, is avoiding alcohol and drugs – another commonly known trigger. Reducing stress is also something to consider, for example, sticking to well-known areas can help reduce the unknowns that often create stressful conditions.

  4. Wear or Bring Medical ID:  Medical identification can be worn as a medical bracelet to inform others around you during a seizure or medical incident that you have epilepsy so that they understand how to treat you in an emergency. Additionally, or if you don’t have a bracelet available, you can create a card that explains that you have epilepsy and explains other applicable information (such as your medication list and emergency contacts) so that people around you could use it in a medical situation.

  5. Create a plan for the candy: Some children are on a ketogenic diet and eating candy can be physically bad for them. Some ideas that can be done at home are to make keto-friendly snacks before (or instead of) going out trick-or-treating.  If the child still wants to go out and collect candy around the neighbourhood, the caregivers can arrange a plan to switch the candy for games or gifts once the child returns home.

Do you have any cool costumes or purple pumpkin decorations that you’d like to share with us this year?  Send it over to us at info@epilepsydurham.com and we will enjoy seeing all your Halloween Spirit. Enjoy your time and stay safe!