Controlling epilepsy, depression and other illnesses with the help of a smart coach

Written on 02/22/2021
Jackie Cameron

Dr Kate Couchman shares the story of how she became a health coach to help others after learning how to control her own debilitating epilepsy.

Dr Kate Couchman shares the moving story of how she became a health coach to help others after learning how to control her own debilitating epilepsy. Smart health coach Dr Kate walks the walk and explains how she works with your own personal circumstances and requirements to become healthier, happier and lead a more fulfilling life. – Jackie Cameron

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Dr Kate on living with epilepsy:

I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 12-years old and I thought I always had to live like that. I probably had one or two seizures a year – so it wasn’t particularly severe. I took my medication, I had blood tests regularly and a couple of brain scans. Then I got to third year at university and suddenly things changed for me. I ended up having about a hundred absence seizures a day, and obviously it was very difficult to concentrate, let alone hold a conversation.

I was doing my internship at hospitals, which were about 12-hour shifts. I was doing medicine at the time, working with various doctors [and] absolutely loving it. I thought my career was over before it had even started. My heart sank because I just thought, ‘here I am in my dream position with wings about to fly and my wings were being clipped.’ I wasn’t falling on the floor – as we often think of epilepsy – but every time I had an absence seizure, my memory would go for a bit and my train of thought would be lost.

So if a doctor was talking, I just lost a few minutes and I would come back. They wouldn’t necessarily know what was happening. But I was very aware of it. My self-confidence was shattered and I didn’t think I was going to be able to maintain it. I was absolutely exhausted. If you think of every time your brain is having these seizures, there’s extra excitability. So I was exhausted from everything that was going on.

On finding a solution:

I went to my neurologist and explained this, and I just felt that I didn’t have the support. I needed an answer immediately, and it didn’t feel as if they had the same kind of passion that I did to find a solution. So because of my nutrition background, diet was the first way that I turned. I’d always been pretty healthy, but I thought, I’m going to look into this. Obviously, I hadn’t been drinking as an epileptic – alcohol is not recommended.

The fact that we were doing 12-hour shifts in the hospital – I couldn’t really change that at the time – but as far as stress management went, I looked into that as far as possible and tried to incorporate as many things to keep me happy wherever I could. So every weekend I tried to do fun things just to balance out the stress. I made sure that I spoke about how I was feeling. I made sure that my phone wasn’t anywhere near me when I was sleeping. That I did as many things as possible just to keep myself balanced. I know that may sound a little bit strange, but I needed to find an answer.

On her journey to becoming a health coach:

I want to be able to apply everything that I’ve learned and help other people. Purely because I don’t want it to be a 15-year journey for other people. I know how many people struggle with epilepsy or with other conditions and just get frustrated – and feel as if medication is the only answer. And yet, there’s so much that we can do with lifestyle changes, in order to get a fantastic response – and to be able to live the life that we want to live.

On her process:

I have what I call a Signature Programme. Within that programme, we’ve got modules that people work through Those have general information that has helped people to get to learn the basic foundations.

Then I work one-on-one – over and above that – in order to realise where they struggling, so that we can work step-by-step to help them to get to the desired outcome. There’s a lot of education and a lot of basic stuff that needs to be applied. They can work at their own pace, in their own hours – and that’s all online. But the one-on-one stuff we schedule via Zoom, so that we’ve got the contact.

With the things they’re struggling with, we can tackle it together – so that I can understand exactly where they’re struggling. We can move them from whatever the issues are now, to where they want to be and reach their goals and desired outcomes.

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