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AWARENESS WALK TO DEBUNK MYTHS AROUND EPILEPSY

Rachel Raditsebe

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Bringing awareness and support to people who deal with seizures is the goal of the Young Epilepsy Botswana (YEB)’s fifth annual walk set for March 23. The annual campaign that will start from the Grand Palm is the brainchild of YEB Founder Itha Khan who seeks to educate the public on the little-understood brain disorder.

Awareness campaigns, according to Khan provide an opportunity for the epilepsy community to create change for people with epilepsy while educating the general public about epilepsy and seizures, as well as seizure first aid.

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain that is characterised by recurrent seizures, which are physical reactions to sudden, usually brief, excessive electrical discharges in a group of brain cells. The nature of the seizures varies, ranging from brief lapses of attention, muscle spasms and staring spells to severe and prolonged convulsions, which are violent and involuntary, contractions, or a series of muscle contractions. Seizures can also vary in frequency, from once a year to several a day.

Even though epilepsy is one of the world’s oldest recognised conditions, it is surrounded by fear, misunderstanding, discrimination and social stigma. During a seizure, some people behave awkwardly, such as repeating a word or phrase, blinking repeatedly, staring into space, responding slowly, scratching something like a button, or repeatedly hitting something. During seizures, some people might not respond to questions, or they might speak incoherently, crumple pieces of paper or appear frightened and scream. In an interview with SunHealth, Khan stressed the importance of identifying and addressing these symptoms early, and with suitable forms of intervention to reduce the consequences they might have on the individual’s long-term quality of life. “Stigma is also very common when dealing with both epilepsy and mental illness.

It is this stigma that delays care, impairs aggressive management of the condition and, therefore, worsens the prognosis,” she said. Khan who had her first attack at 14 years old, observed that in addition to stigma, lack of adequate and accessible health care are hampering the management of the condition. “The challenges can easily be overcome through proper training of medics, awareness creation and treatment,” she said. Khan also noted that the situation has also been exacerbated by lack of current data on the number of sufferers.

“There is need for government to conduct surveys and enhance awareness on epilepsy. This will help in planning and coming up with a much needed specific programme for epilepsy,” she said. She lamented that people continue to suffer despite it being treatable, with some communities attributing it to witchcraft. Khan said; “people living with epilepsy can lead normal lives if the condition is managed. It is unfortunate that some end up with permanent injuries due to lack of awareness and stigma”.

In many communities, especially in rural areas Khan said, epilepsy is associated with curses, evil spirits or punishment for past sins. People with epilepsy are said to be possessed by demons, which cause them to convulse from time to time. Some families feel ashamed when a member has the condition. That is why she appeals for more support and sponsorship in order to be able to reach communities that really need the education and support YEB offers.

STEPS TO TAKE IF SOMEONE IS HAVING A SEIZURE

Do your best to stay calm. Understanding what is taking place should help you to do this.
Try to prevent injury by ensuring that there is nothing nearby or within reach that could harm the person.
Be sure to keep yourself out of harm’s way if the individual is thrashing and writhing around vigorously. There is no need to try and restrain anyone who is having a seizure.

Call emergency services.
Do not put anything in the person’s mouth.
Once the individual’s seizure has stopped place them in the recovery position. Turn the person’s head so any vomit can easily drain from their mouth and make sure they are breathing normally.
Do not give the person liquids, medication or food until they are fully alert.
Stay with the person until he or she recovers, which should be within five to 20 minutes.

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The alternative view With Brown Oteng

FOUR ANCIENT SOURCES OF HEALTH

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Hypocrites the father of medicine says “the SUN and salt are healers of the body”

The Sun is the star at the centre of the Solar System that supports all life by a process called photosynthesis. The same process is used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy into chemical energy that can later be released to fuel the organisms’ activities.

Photosynthesis is largely responsible for producing and maintaining the oxygen content of the Earth’

When an individual remains indoor they cannot get any vitamin D from the sun and are therefore unable to absorb calcium which is essential in healing.The most abundant mineral in the body is calcium to absorb calcium from your foods you must have vitamin D and that can be accomplished in minutes by being in the sun (in a swimsuit optional, mostly it is done by white people). We absorb Vitamin D in 20 seconds of being in the sun

BENEFITS OF SUNLIGHT
Direct sunlight is important for more functions as the hypothalamus and pituitary needs to regulate your sleep patterns, your weight, body temperature, sexual functions and to a degree water balance. Hormones are thus stimulated and are important for the regulation of nutrients in the body.

HEAD AND EYES
Your head and eyes needs sunlight, remove the cap sunglasses, artificial hair, wigs for a while to absorb sunlight through your head and eyes. OUR EYES needs sun too don’t believe the indoctrinating advertising by wearing sunglasses.

Sunglasses and make-up are not meant for beauty and fashion their purpose is to cause health problems to benefit corporations trading in the health sector.
The sun does not cause cancer, instead it is you shortage of certain elements that are required when in the sun that allow you to burn. Do you think the creator created the sun to cause health problems?

Once again the sun is a major benefactor to health and recovery from all illnesses when natural medicine is practiced. In the past EUROPE & USA hospitals would wheel their patients out into the sun daily for an hour or two because it’s very important for absortion of nutrients resulting in natural recovery.

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Know Your Specialist

Forgiveness is a virtue

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It’s hard to get through life without experiencing some resentment. Executive Director – Phronesis International College (PIC) and Counselling and Psychotherapist, Peacebuilding and Life Skills Education Specialist Dr Thelma Kgakgamatso Tlhaselo-Majela discusses forgiveness and why letting go is good for you.

What forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a process that positions one on a healing path by choice in an attempt to resolve the psychological stress and trauma one could be experiencing. These pains and emotional injuries may stagnate one into feelings of anger, bitterness and resentment and in worse cases depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders. If left for long, protracted unresolved psychological distress and or trauma could deepen one more into multiple losses.

It may generate hatred and desire to cause harm on the other and this can throw one into revenge and or vengeance. Forgiveness then starts from the cognitive ability to choose letting go of the emotional and cognitive baggage thus granting the self or inner being power to constructively open portals of intrapersonal empowerment. Moreover, a well-integrated process of forgiveness could shift one into an empathetic and compassionate psychological space filled with virtue and psycho-sociological attributes of restoration that accentuate positive benefits of healing.

In your experience,what are the common issues that need forgiveness?
Life by nature is riddled with so many issues and challenges characterised by diversity and complexity hence appropriate understanding is very important. People are social beings that co-exist through healthy connectedness and this may happen at the physical, personal, socio-cultural, psychological, financial, spiritual; political level to mention a few.
We all need a deepened awareness on how the intra-personal (within self), inter-personal (with others), inter-group (within groups) and international (nation to nation) relational connections play out in life. These healthy relationships deserve to be developed, nurtured and protected lest they become dysfunctional and corrosive.

The common issues for forgiveness are varied and highly individualised. One person may look at what another is struggling with and may consciously or unconsciously belittle it because for them it appears an easy or small matter but people are unique and this deserves respect. The relational betrayals, emotional injuries, corrosive conflicts and intractable may result in residual emotions that can cause people to drift into anger and bitterness. In such accounts, people may find themselves responding through avoidance or seeking revenge which has the potential to cycle one back into deeper pain.

The complexity of forgiveness may originate from the nature and quality of the relationship one had, the nature of the wrong committed with the cognitive interpretations one ascribes to the event. This includes significant others such as spouses (couples), children, family relatives, colleagues, bosses and subordinates in the work place.

Sometimes, it may be people we do not know that have hurt us such as a murderer, rapist or an abuser and may not even acknowledge that they have done anything wrong to us. It may also be about the symbolic losses where the people and or situations to forgive do not physically exist such as a dead person or a geographic disconnection. In such cases, the existential reality of the phenomenon remains true, real and alive in the psyche of the emotionally injured person and requires a healing process.

Is it possible to forgive when one is still angry and can you forgive someone who does not think they have done anything wrong?
Forgiveness is a process that one does by choice for oneself and not for the perpetrator because one understands that the pain and suffering one is experiencing has a direct injurious effect on one’s life. Similarly, revenge and vengeance which for long has been one of the rudimentary human responses can only promote increased pain as it stagnates one into more hurt and pain.

It often cycles one back into psychological trauma hence one needs to perceive value addition in engaging in forgiveness because it can be logically and rationally incomprehensible when one is caught up in this quagmire. A bitter-angry person may grapple with cognitive dissonance which is an internal struggle to understand why they have to release someone who according to them deserves a punishment or better still refuses to acknowledge that they have done anything wrong.

But irrespective of the reason, holding on to anger, bitterness and resentfulness within the inner self can only grant one false gratification that they are holding the perpetrator to ransom. Needless to say, we have no control on how the other person thinks and feels and we may actually be subjecting ourselves to increased injury and punishment from the very issue we are contending with.

Seeking professional help will assist one to work through the psychological defence mechanisms such as denial, repression, rationalisation, reaction formation, regression to mention a few that may promote dysfunctional tendencies in un/forgiveness processes. Notwithstanding, people need to be assisted with respect for human dignity within them and never be forced and or coerced into forgiveness when they are not ready to do so. Given that anger will consume the person already holding the pain and hurt whether it is perceived or real, working on forgiveness can be a desirable option to open the healing process.

Can you discuss the rewards or benefits of forgiveness?
As can be seen, it often pays to work through forgiveness hence the concept of working it out because people respond to pain and trauma differently. The rewards and benefits shared in this context are not by any means exhaustive because there are several psycho-social models for assisting people to process forgiveness issues and this requires well trained service providers.

*People who are angry and bitter are often not desirable in social contexts because they may consciously or unconsciously spill this negative energy on other people and this tends to repel instead of attract social connections. At intra-personal level, we are likely not to find our inner life peaceful and enjoyable if we are ever stuck psychosocially on anger and bitterness because it may promote self-hate, poor self-concept and negative self-esteem. So it pays to be gentle to love yourself enough to desire good emotions about and towards other people for that will rub corrosively on your personal well-being. The benefits of forgiveness include enabling one to circumvent these psychological pains and trauma that can affect quality of life with self and others which may compound stress levels.

In extreme cases people may sink into depression and anxiety which could ripple into other areas of life such as sexual dysfunction, eating disorders, substance use and abuse, relational conflicts and psychosomatic illness. Forgiveness builds a healthy mindset and that attracts a healthy personality which consequently leads to healthy social and physical well-being. Forgiveness fills the inner space with good attributes and this is shared with others. We then by addressing forgiveness issues reduce on maladaptive tendencies and lift on psychosocial protection thus leading to safeguarding the intra-personal, familial, corporate and societal communities from effects such as divorce and relational stressors.

At corporate and industrial level, a socio-psychological space that is riddled with un/forgiveness is a breeding ground for visible and invisible costs. For instance, a huge cost can emanate from a collective environment that is unproductive because of collective stress and restlessness. A workplace where people are transparent and honest and regard others with respect to deserve forgiveness often tends to promote healing communities where others feel safe and do not fear hence they can work to the optimum level of their potential.

We also benefit as a nation when we are characterised by forgiveness because we have a strategic desire to promote a knowledge-based community as the foundation for transformational change. Botswana considers people as a reservoir for knowledge and wisdom to lead as change agents and if we are a community that is unable to work through issues of forgiveness, we may create or nurture a psycho-sociological space that disempowers collective construct for healing communities.

A Motswana who is able to forgive is likely to live with people from other backgrounds and has a healthy and broader capacity of dealing with diversity and differences with virtue and competencies for the 21st century to advance the nation at local, regional and international level.

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