Sean got home from work early one day, just in time to hear an all-too-familiar choking sound coming from the next room.
“It’s pretty distinctive, that kind of choking sound,” Sean explains. His brother was having a seizure – just like their father had many years ago and Sean’s had for the last 7 years.
“I held it together,” recalls Sean, “but I had that moment when I realized how his life was going to change, because how much my life had changed – and I almost broke down.” Sean managed to help his brother through the seizure, but that realization stuck with him.
All of a sudden you have no interests, you don’t want to get out of bed, and you don’t want to do anything.
Seizures are just the start of anyone’s epilepsy journey. Like many people with epilepsy, Sean has struggled with depression. “It creeps up on you, and creeps up on you, and creeps up on you, and all of a sudden you have no interests, you don’t want to get out of bed, and you don’t want to do anything”, Sean explains. That’s what he was dealing with when he found Epilepsy Ottawa’s UPLIFT program.
“I didn’t realize how many people out there were having the same struggles as I was and that gave me a sense of solidarity, which is very comforting.” Beyond comfort, the program “is about acquiring these skills and new perspectives in order to help you manage your condition even more.” UPLIFT boosted Sean’s confidence and mental health, giving him a strong foundation to make positive changes in his life.
Sean is now an UPLIFT co-facilitator; he works with Epilepsy Ottawa’s social worker to lead UPLIFT groups for adults with epilepsy and depression. He is also a peer mentor in Epilepsy Connect Ottawa. “One of the reasons I decided to become a co-facilitator and a peer mentor is to try to help people through what I’ve learned, and so hopefully other people don’t have to go through what I went through.”
“It’s crucial to have organizations like this to say ‘Hey, you don’t have to carry all this by yourself.’ It’s vital. It’s so, so vital!”
Sean and his brother live together. “It’s been good for both of us to be able to have each other to rely on. Family is so important.” He credits family support for the lives they have, with some help from Epilepsy Ottawa. “It’s not easy, but these programs can definitely make it less difficult.”