AN OXFORD woman has shared her experience with epilepsy to help dispel the ‘dangerous’ myths that still surround the condition.

Today marks the start of National Epilepsy Week but despite it being one of the most common neurological conditions new research shows over a third – 36 per cent – of people admit they would be unsure or unwilling to help someone if they saw them having an epileptic seizure.

Jane Williams was diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy when she was 12 and her seizures happen when she is woken up suddenly.

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The 30-year-old said having people around her who know how to handle her having a seizure was incredibly important.

She recalled how her housemate Josh came to her rescue after she was unexpectedly woken from a nap. She said: “I immediately started jerking and instinctively knew I was going to have a tonic clonic seizure [loss of consciousness and jerking limbs].

“I made a horrendously bad decision and ran down the two flights of stairs to the kitchen where Josh was as I really, really didn’t want to be myself.

“I told Josh, ‘I’m going to have a seizure’ and he said ‘what do I do?’ I told him not to panic. Then the seizure started and I fell into the coffee table.”

When she woke up she was on the floor with Josh beside her holding her hand.

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She said: “The first thing I remember him saying was, ‘My name is Josh, and you’re Jane. You are at home and you are absolutely fine. You are safe’.

“He was incredibly calm and didn’t phone an ambulance, which I think is most people’s default reaction, but I had been quite strict in my instructions to him prior to this day about only phoning one if definitely necessary. Generally, anyone I might have a seizure in front of, I tend to ‘train’ beforehand. So all my flatmates tend to be well informed.”

Epilepsy affects around 600,000 people in the UK and 6,400 in Oxfordshire but a Bangor University study, commissioned by charity Epilepsy Action, showed 54 per cent of people incorrectly think you should put something in someone’s mouth when they’re having a seizure and 53 per cent assume that flashing lights trigger most seizures when it is actually on three per cent who are photosensitive.

The charity’s chief executive Philip Lee said: “Witnessing a seizure can be frightening and people might worry about making the situation worse. But simple things, such as staying with the person until they come round and calling for help where necessary, can make a massive difference.

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“From the countless stories we hear, when people step up to support someone having a seizure, it can make a disorientating, sometimes life-threatening, experience much less scary for everyone.”

He said common myths that still surround epilepsy include putting something in a person’s mouth if they have a seizure, which he said was ‘very dangerous’ as it could injure their jaw or block their airwaves.

Mr Lee added: “Unhelpful assumptions like this can make many people with epilepsy fearful of going out in public.

“Learning more about the condition, and some basic first aid, makes a real difference and will give people with epilepsy more confidence to go about their everyday lives.”