Newly Diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease—What’s Next?

Diagnoses can come in many forms and take on various weights. A diagnosis for the common cold, for instance, may provide to be a little annoying, and require a week or two of extra rest, but what about the diagnoses that change our lives forever? Receiving the diagnosis of having a chronic illness can be confusing, frustrating, and ominous. It can be one of the most overwhelming experiences and lead to many feelings. It is often said that the five stages of grief are more than applicable to beginning your journey with a chronic condition.

The five stages

While not everyone will follow the same step-wise pattern, there are five commonly held stages of grieving life-altering news. These are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It’s not hard to image the denial and anger felt when being told your life is going to change, and hoping it’s not true or feeling mad that it is happening to you. We may often bargain, wondering if we had done something different or if we promise to change certain ways, if the situation will disappear. More often than not, after starting on this path, many find themselves struggling with frustration and confusion, that turns into serious depression. This is not uncommon, and outside help may be needed—which is completely okay. Finally, acceptance, while the hardest to come by, is when we finally accept the changes that are happening, and put our best effort forward to understand and anticipate what comes next.

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What to do now?

While some stages of grief are more challenging than others, it is a process to be worked through. One of the most important things to consider, however, is that you are not alone. There are many others who are struggling or have been struggling with similar feelings as you. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, or depressed, it is so important to seek out help. Whether it’s in the form of a community, like ours, support from family and friends, or even outside help from a healthcare professional, it is important to take all aspects of your health seriously. Depression, defeat, and anxiety are all incredibly common, and while things may never be “perfect”—but really, who’s even 100% perfect anyways?!—there are steps that can be taken to help you get on the right track. Never be afraid to ask for help, and know there are always people who will be there for you. Especially our community!

Getting to the acceptance stage, and maintaining that acceptance can come in a variety of ways. Taking charge of your health by being aware of how to construct the best healthcare team for your situation, learning all you can about your new (or even old) diagnosis, discovering potential treatment options, and finding support groups can ease the burden and help you continue to fight.

Things will most certainly change upon receiving this news, and there will be grief, sadness, anxiety, and a feeling of being overwhelmed, but there are so many resources that are created specifically for YOU! Please let us know how you are handling or have handled your diagnosis, and any advice you would give to someone just starting along this path.

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