Mental health wellbeing space

So, what is it to be overwhelmed?

You know the saying ‘carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders’? That’s the best way to describe feeling overwhelmed. It’s when you carry too much stress. It’s an emotion that can cause physical strain during difficult times. It can make you feel like there’s not enough hours in the day, like you have too much to cope with. And it can make you struggle to catch your breath or focus. We all lead busy lives, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Can you remember the last time you switched off from social media, from your phone and the distractions of a typical day? This, on top of worrying about your health, creates the perfect environment for being overwhelmed.

How does it affect people with epilepsy?

Will I have a seizure today? Will I hurt myself or put others in danger? Will I lose my driving licence? Will I wet myself? Sometimes you probably think a hundred thoughts before you leave the house in the morning. And it can all seem too much. Worrying about your epilepsy can feed overwhelm and breed more stress. Overwhelm can also cause strange feelings of discomfort and lead to focal seizures. However, just like any emotion, everyone experiences overwhelm differently. Some common signs are:

  • Feeling constantly tired or fatigued
  • Losing sense of perspective
  • Change in appetite
  • Lack of sleep
  • Anxiety
The constant thought of breaking into a seizure in public and at work causes me nothing but constant anxiety.

Young people with epilepsy told us

Young people with epilepsy who responded to our survey told us:

  • 57%


    57% of young people who responded to our survey said their epilepsy impacted their learning

  • 63%


    63% said it impacted their employment

You are never alone

Other young people with epilepsy have these tips on managing feeling overwhelmed:

Stay strong and try to look at what you can do in life, not what the epilepsy makes difficult/impossible.”

“People don't expect you to be happy all the time, when you're dealing with a life-altering condition, so take each day at a time and always talk about how you're feeling. You need to prioritise your needs before anything else.”

"If you feel you’re carrying more than you can manage, talk about how you feel. Offload your feelings with family, friends and doctors – you’ll feel so much better for it."

Epilepsy can be such a scary condition. You may feel out of control, like your brain is working against you.

Alice, one of our Young Supporters, talks about her experience of feeling overwhelmed.

Are you struggling to cope?

Shout is a free, confidential and 24/7 text support service for anyone in the UK

To start a conversation, text PURPLE to 85258

Shout’s trained volunteers are available around the clock to listen and support anyone who is suicidal, depressed, anxious or overwhelmed. The service is anonymous and does not show up on phone bills.

find out more about our partnership with Shout.

What can I do if I feel overwhelmed?

For example, if you’ve had a bad nights’ sleep because of seizures, allow yourself to have a slower, more relaxed day instead of pushing to get through that to do list

Talk to friends, family, those you trust. Keep connected to those you care about and who care about you. And talk to us and others with epilepsy via The Channel and The Hub.

Practice square breathing: Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, out for 4, hold for 4 and repeat. Or give mental counting a go, start at 50, close your eyes and count backwards to 1. 

Try your best to eat a balanced diet and avoid drinking alcohol (it’s a depressant after all).

Try to have a good sleep routine – 8 hours or more if you can. If you struggle with sleep, find out here what you can do to help make sure you get a good night sleep. 

Find exercise you enjoy that doesn’t take too much time or put you under pressure. Try a form of exercise that works with your seizures (walking, yoga, running), whatever suits you. Exercise will help calm down the brain when it becomes overwhelmed, so that you can see and think clearly again.

Practice mindfulness, when you’re brushing your teeth, eating a meal, walking outside. Actively using the senses to make yourself fully present with whatever you are doing. It will help you focus, prioritise and most important of all – RELAX.

Walks in nature can really ground you and make you realise where you need to prioritise your feelings.

Where can I access support?

If you feel you are overwhelmed, please contact your GP. 

Find urgent help and support here.

If you are struggling with overwhelm, remember, you are not alone. 

Try downloading one of these apps that young people recommend:

  • Fabulous - A daily planner and self-care tracker app
  • My Possible Self - The Mental Health App - NHS 
  • Happify - Science-based activities and games can help reduce stress, overcome negative thoughts, and build greater resilience

If you feel like you would like to talk to someone, you can contact us or reach out to one of the organisations below. There are people ready and waiting to support you:

Our supporters shared messages of support to children and young people with epilepsy who may be struggling.

Take all encouragement given, look to the future with a positive attitude & do things that make you smile.

The theme of being Overwhelmed has been supported by an educational grant by GW Pharmaceuticals.

Mental health wellbeing space

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