Parkinson’s was in my thoughts and body 24/7. I allowed it to take over and become my identity. It moved in, took up residence and became a roommate that I couldn’t seem to evict. It turned my life off kilter, and I felt incapable of restoring balance. I became a one-dimensional, boring person, preoccupied with it, thinking about it, talking about it, listening to it, and studying it.
I had enough of it and was determined to find some possible solutions to deal with it. I developed the following strategies:
Remind myself that I am not my disease.
Don’t label or define myself by Parkinson’s. Words are powerful and calling myself or others “Parkies” even in jest, can be minimizing.
Focus on what I can do with Parkinson’s instead of what I can’t do.
Hang out with people who don’t have Parkinson’s.
When introducing myself to a new person, describe myself in ways that don’t involve Parkinson’s or its symptoms. Don’t allow Parkinson’s to be high on my list of how I describe myself because it may prevent more valuable qualities and traits from emerging.
Allow myself a set period of 15 minutes every day to think about, stew about or worry about Parkinson’s.
Establish Parkinson’s-free times when I don’t speak about Parkinson’s.
Go on a vacation and leave Parkinson’s at home.
Be selective when choosing volunteer activities. Learn to become comfortable saying “no” to activities that don’t enhance my life and choose activities that match my values and interests.
Lead a healthy life by attending to all of my needs – physical, emotional, intellectual, relationship and spiritual.
Although this self-improvement program is a life-long process, these strategies will help me to live well with Parkinson’s instead of being consumed by it.