Green eyed monster side eyes woman at gym confidently pulling stretch bands

Parkinson’s and the Green Eyed Monster

I have a fall issue and just before the virus hit, I had my worst fall to date. I was attempting to stand on a balance device while holding a pair of bungee straps extended behind me. In addition, I also was wearing a surgical boot.

Time went into hyperdrive and I found myself on the floor, up against a recumbent exercise bike and having hit my tailbone hard enough to rattle my brain and take a big patch of skin off my knee.

Gym floors are not forgiving. A few moments of embarrassment shared with the rest of my Parkinson’s exercise class and we all moved on. I knew the root cause was my attempt to do something I knew not to do. A story most of us can tell.



Coping with feelings of jealously

I had not thought about my fall until a friend sent an email telling us he occasionally had a teensy bit of jealousy over not being able to do as well or better than others in various skills. The feelings lowered his mood and, on occasion, put him in a funk. He wanted to know if we had similar feelings and what did we about them.

A flash of green as I thought about how to answer his email. I admitted to myself that the real root cause of my fall was trying to do a balance trick better than a friend right next to me.

Here are some of the responses my friend received:

“I think maybe we've all been there, are there, will be there again. What helps me is to remember that it's not 'why me' but 'why not me'- meaning, I am no better or less than anyone else. We are in different places. I actually write in a journal just about things I am blessed with, grateful for, happy about. Even in downtimes, there is always something for which to be thankful.”

“I find that when I am sliding into those thoughts if I switch gears and say to myself and to that person ‘good for you, I am happy for you, keep up the good work it is working for you,’ my heart fills up with joy.”

“Yes, I have those feelings. Mine are usually around my balance issues. Somewhere in the dark recesses, I know my balance is not going to be better than (name goes here), but it bugs me. I think I’m overly competitive. When I go a little further down the nutzoid path, I stop and ask myself “Are you at least holding pace on your symptoms? Or are you actually a little better compared to only yourself?” If you can say yes, that is all that matters.”

It's not a competition

As I look at my fall, my friend’s question, and these responses, I realize my pre-Parkinson’s life was all about being competitive. Competitive at work, competitive in sports, and almost anything else you can think of. Not winning was, of course, losing.

Now, in my Parkinson’s life, my focus should be different. I’m no longer in any competition with anyone. My focus must be trying to be the best I can at exercise, at being active, at being a coach, at being an advocate, and at being a friend. If I am doing my best, that’s all I can ask of myself.

Will I fall again? Almost certainly, but it won’t be because I’m trying to outdo someone else. Hopefully, I will be able to forgive myself, analyze why I kissed the floor, make corrections, and move on.

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