Thanks for sharing. By:Larry Linton 🙏❤️
“It took me ten years, but this week I attended my very first support group. I wished I had joined earlier.
As I have previously written, the very first thing I did on the day I was diagnosed was to google "Young Onset Adult Parkinson's Disease" and I was traumatized. I had no terms of reference or any understanding of what I was reading or seeing - "freezing", "dyskinesia", dopamine agonists" were words that were added to my vocabulary very quickly, but with no real understanding of what they meant.
And, if those first images of what I seeing were any indication of what my future self looked like, I wanted to have no dealings with anyone, let alone myself. In fact, I became a recluse for pretty much the first year following my diagnosis, overcome with extreme anxiety and depression. When I did manage to head out, I couldn't wait to return to the safety of my home, and my couch.
But this week, I realized that my approach was wrong: Joining a support group would have had a much better impact on me emotionally and mentally from the start of my relationship with PD. As we went around the table, each attendee introduced themselves and briefly outlined their journey with Parkinson's Disease. One was diagnosed only a month ago; some within the last year; a couple weren't taking medication at all, some were seeing a naturopath; another had gone through DBS; one was being scheduled for that procedure.
We all had the opportunity to engage and learn from each other. I found it therapeutic as we shared experiences on various topics like medication, the importance of diet and exercise, the importance of rest, the benefits of mindfulness, and also to allow yourself to grieve and then to find the laughter and joy in living with PD.
The success of the meeting was based on the following:
a. There was a facilitator who kept the topics and discussion flowing.
b. The facilitator didn't do all the talking, and encouraged those who were quieter to contribute to the discussion.
c. There was a tremendous feeling of empathy and support for each other.
d. The group shared a few jokes which counteracted with some of the more serious discussion points
From time to time, I glanced over to the "newbie" and at times she was very emotional and tearful. But she was there, and that was the crucial difference. At the end of the session, she was smiling and interacting more confidently with the others. She learnt first hand that Parkinson's Disease affects everyone differently; and that the direction and progress will be varied and as different as each attendee. She learnt in two hours what it had taken me nearly a year to figure out on my own.
I will be back at my next month's support group and hope that she will be there too!
Until next week, Live Your Best Life Today!
P.S. I am very excited to let you know that I am six chapters into my book, "My life with and without Parkinson's". I can't wait to share it with you all!”
Written by Larry Linton and shared with permission