Reset Button Blues
With Parkinson's, believe it or not, it's easy to get overwhelmed and feel rundown. As someone I once knew said, "When it rains, it pours." Even if we are causing the rain, there is truth to needing to escape from piling on way too many things. Many people face this struggle in their lives. The sad reality is that stress affects all people in some bad ways. If it were only as easy as hitting the reset button in a video game, we could just start over, completely filled with new lives and energy. However, it doesn't seem like "Mr. Parkinson's" believes in the ability to reset things, so he just piles on the garbage. Thus, we need to recognize when we hit the tailspin to ensure we can overcome it.
Just like in our non-Parkinson's lives, we can make to-do lists. We can highlight priorities and list when things need to be done by. We can organize our missions or ask our caregivers to do this for us. Also, we should ask for help if we need it. This thing called life isn't about being Supergirl/Superman 24/7/365.
We should also know that we have the right to say "no" to anyone. Self-preservation isn't being selfish. Besides, if we're having trouble helping ourselves, we can't help others. The emotional / mental / physical drain will just affect us too greatly. It's okay to limit or eliminate assisting others sometimes. These tips apply to caregivers and partners as well.
The snowball effect
When we let one thing get to us, it's easier for other things to get to us. This could lead us feeling like everything is going wrong. While there might be a lot of problems, there are also good things out there. That's not always easy to see when we're waiting for something grand, but it's important to stay positive as much as possible. Granted, it's impossible to be optimistic 100% of the time, so when the cycles of seasons / fates changes, do your best to see what's coming and work through it accordingly. The same tips that work for your nurses will also work for you.
Getting between the trees
One way to reset while cutting down on the rigidity is walking. I'm a big advocate of nature therapy. It doesn't have to be a spectacular destination. You could walk through the tree-lined side streets of your hometown or visit a local park. Sometimes just sitting in the fresh air and marveling at the beauty of the world is enough. Just remember, be safe out there if you're going for sessions that could be more dangerous with your condition. When we're physically depleted, falls in nature can be more problematic than when they're in our own homes.
Calling time out
Sometimes, we just need to watch television and slip out of reality. That was my Saturday. I watched the entire Jack Ryan series without moving, and let me tell you, I didn't feel like I wasted the day either. Yes, it was an entertaining Tom Clancy story, but it was also about not agitating the tail end of my seasonal allergies, which have left me rundown. As medication choices are limited for allergy medications, I'm very nervous about the intensity of my congestion and the fear that I could go back to the hospital for pneumonia. Six days there during two stints this year is enough.
The American Parkinson’s Disease Association developed a Medication List that can be accessed here. However, before starting any new medication, it’s important to consult with your doctor.
One thing that allows for better days is getting in motion and doing things. Sometimes we need people to help us do this. When they do, it's good to be thankful for those people. After all, they are the ones who allow us to run with the feeling of an object in motion remains in motion. Look forward to opportunities to make up for past fails instead of worrying that history will repeat itself (note: this is something I need to do!).
Stay away from downers
Avoiding negative triggers is a good thing. Some people come off as vampires since they seem to suck the life out of us. Granted, we can't avoid every person who drives us to distraction, but we can avoid the amount of time we spend looking at negative news. Yes, it's hard to be an informed citizen who can vote responsibly without reading the news, but we may want to limit how much time we spend searching out an issue or topic. I know that's not easy with all of the "all or nothing" news and political showdowns of late, but when we feel ourselves going dark, it's probably best to put on something funny and mindless for a while. I recommend Jim Gaffigan.
As I said back in the beginning, when it rains, it pours. Going for a rough test is just the start. Then we add allergies, sciatica, day to day interactions, workplace worries, future concerns, Mr. Parkinson's handiwork, and it can feel like nothing is going right. Then again, maybe we just can't see up around that bend. I've had some great days and some not so great days. I still want to believe that the best is yet to come. Sometimes, the only answer is to just get a hot shower and go to bed early because nothing is going to save the day. Tomorrow is a new day. We just have to believe it and know we can start again.
Do you participate in a support group for PD?