Those of us with Parkinson’s, particularly with young onset PD, have plenty of reasons to be angry. Going from being strong, healthy and independent to having a chronic, progressive, debilitating disease such as PD, can be devastating.
I’ve been off and on with my anger about having PD for the past eleven years. Growing up with 16 years of Catholic education, I learned early on that angry words, behavior and even angry thoughts were sins. Being angry was lumped together with the commandment “Thou shall not kill.” The theory was if you get too angry, you might end up killing someone. Anger was one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
Anger as a normal emotion and a fundamental part of the human condition is a relatively new concept for me. Most of us have been pissed off, upset, enraged, mad about something or someone, including ourselves. The comedian, Gilder Radner described her battle with ovarian cancer as being “in a room of anger” in her book, It’s Always Something.
I began making some headway along my PD path when I first acknowledged my anger. Once I owned up to it, it was time to take care of it. I didn’t want to live in a room of anger but wanted to find some ways to manage it. I realized that the stress of not managing my anger would only result in the exacerbation of my PD symptoms.
For the most part, I’ve been able to avoid the depression (anger turned inward) that often accompanies PD by attempting to convert my anger into action. For me, the following action steps have helped:
· Writing letters when I perceive an injustice in the PD community
· Volunteering to promote awareness and understanding of PD
· Co-founding a PD support group
· Writing a blog about living with PD
What steps might you take to help convert anger into constructive action?