Coping with Parkinson's Disease Through Laughter
Last updated: April 2023
I’ve found laughing a lot every day to be one of my major Parkinson’s coping skills. Laughing or even smiling seems to break up negative thinking and can lighten up even my darkest day. And a lightened mood helps make my Parkinson’s less intolerable and a little more bearable.
My laughter seems to multiply when I share it. For the last 3 years, 6 days a week, I’ve been sending an email to over 100 people. The email usually contains non-political, non-religious, and non-sexual material. I send out about 10 really corny jokes along with 10 or so cartoons. Now, some may find my view of what’s funny a little weird, but I hope there’s at least a laugh a day for everyone.
As it turns out, everyone’s funny bone is tickled by their perceptions, and what's funny to me may not be to someone else. Occasionally, I get it wrong. I find myself trying to cover everyone’s version of funny.
My approach to coping with health conditions
I write a lot about my Parkinson’s and my feelings on dealing with the condition. As it turns out, as with humor, not everyone views my pathway as possible or realistic. Some view my approach as "pollyanish" or that I’m ignoring the darkness approaching.
In addition to Parkinson’s, I am in Stage 4 chronic kidney disease, have extreme peripheral neuropathy, and just experienced acute heart failure. So my approach to living maybe different from yours.
Looking into the darkness of PD
As in life, all of us find ourselves in different places on the Parkinson’s spectrum. I do not and cannot apologize for where I find myself. We are at different places due to timing and luck and luck and time alone.
When first diagnosed, my caregiver and I looked into the dark end. We are well aware of what’s likely to happen to me; diagnosed in my mid-70s gives me an excellent chance of being in the 30 percent who will get dementia. It's scary and almost always lurking around your mind when one forgets a word, misspeaks, or blanks.
Humor is now part of my daily life
As I have passed through stage 1, through stage 2, and now, entering stage 3 of Parkinson's, I have been writing about my travels, my feelings, and what I’ve learned about myself. I embraced exercise because exercise is the one thing that could possibly affect the outcome.
I’ve been a negative person most of my life, but I found negative thinking or dwelling on all the unknown possibilities in my future life was making me feel worse and not better. Laughing and sharing that humor is now a part of my daily life.
Consider different coping methods
Working towards positive actions and goals makes it easier to deal with negative things ... so, yes, that puts me squarely into trying to achieve more positive actions and goals to feel better and live the best life I can. It works for me, whether or not it works for you is the question.
I think any method of coping might work and we owe it to each other to carefully consider whether other methods might possibly work in our particular situations. If they do, use them. If not, discard them and move on. All of us should be open to examining the options available and choose the options that work for us.
I think many of us don’t take the time to laugh. My challenge? Find yourself something funny every day. See if it doesn’t brighten your day. Give it a try!
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