A male in pain / frustrated with their head in their hands, also holding a medication bottle with a smiley face on it. stigma, POC, antidepressant, depression

Therapy and Medication

Like many people with Parkinson’s disease, I noticed that I was having issues with being bummed out and worried prior to being diagnosed. If you’re "with Parkinson’s," you’re probably thinking, "That’s like saying snow is cold." There, you’d be correct.

For 21 years, beginning in 1995, Parkinson’s mandated awareness, medication, therapy, and adjustments. Parkinson’s has often left me cold, but this assistance has kept me whole.

I felt my brain swimming

In October 1995, I remember standing in a supermarket parking lot in Bury Street, Edmunds, England. There, I felt my brain swimming. Instantly, I knew something was amiss. Was it the stress of leaving the Air Force and what would happen to my life in England? All I knew was that I was "swimming in it."

Trying medication

By the early 2010s, I was in a rough spot. I was dealing with tremors, stress, and angst. Nirvana’s song "Lithium," or as covered by the Polyphonic Spree summed life up. I felt out of control, and I needed something, so I asked the doctor for Prozac by name. I received it instantly. I took it for a few days, but then I felt heady, so I quit instantly.

In 2014, I tried again with escitalopram (Lexapro). If I was to tell you I was jazzed to be back on "happy pills," I would have been lying. However, just like the first time, things needed to happen.

I’ve been on it ever since. It’s not perfect, but it makes my brain feel "content." I’m not a 24/7 ball of sunshine, but I get to avoid being the negative flip side more often. This balance allows me to self-help and avoid problems. Those are good things.

Addressing the stigma

There’s a lot of negativity toward mental health therapy. Yes, I grew up believing this, too. While on Prozac, this nonsense added leverage to wanting to quit.

In looking back at my life, I stereotypically joked in ways I now loathe. Thus, I send a huge apology to the universe for the damage I did. Sadly, it often takes experiencing something to know something just isn’t right.

Occasionally, I hear stories of how some people view Parkinson’s as if it was a punishment or even that it is some kind of demonic possession. Even in 2022, lots of mental illnesses seem to take on this outlook.

Because of stigma people drink to avoid facing their troubles. Somehow, sitting at the bar is more acceptable and tough than empathetic therapy or readjusting biological levels.

My therapist

Knowing I had Parkinson’s gave some nightmares a name, but other actions that I exhibited just seemed like the antics of an out of control bull in a china shop. Depression and anxiety "made sense," but I was still "off" and upset about things going on around me. Was this just a "Dan being Dan" thing or was it something more? What written advice or sage wisdom could solve my conundrum?

Eventually, I found my way to therapy. Dr.X was a good guy, and I felt like I was able to open up to him, but I can’t say that I ever thought of him as someone who would solve or teach me how to solve my issues. Instead, he served as a replacement for a screen that I typed my inner thoughts on. It was like I now had permission to talk about my thoughts, so I did.

I’m thankful for it since my life felt out of control then. Dr.X came to me from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to help me keep working. In practice, it’s hard to find someone to work out our troubles who doesn’t know our troubles. For me, this is how I felt with my therapist.

In another world, I would have gotten closer to him, but my introversion in non-typed relationships makes that tough, but alas, I’m thankful for him listening.

Considering the pros and cons

Would I go to another therapist if I needed one? Yes. Would I stay on medications? Hell yeah. Would I find myself offended by portrayals of mentally ill people as comical? Definitely. As for you, well, it’s up to you to consider the pros and cons of attending therapy.

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