"Who Am I?" Trying to Find Myself With Parkinson's
‘Who Am I?’, It is a question that has puzzled us all, but maybe even a little more for those with Parkinson's compared with others. I’m not trying to enter the realm of existentialism or even philosophy for that matter. The point that I want to emphasize is that even without an illness, knowing oneself is not always a realization that we make, but when confronted by illness, it is hard not to ask the question.
Parkinson's seems to have always been there
Parkinson’s disease has been part of my life since I noticed my first symptom at the age of 17 years old. I will be 52 years old soon. As much as I have learned over these three decades plus, I conclude that I have so much more to learn. Day in and day out there is no predicting whether the medications are going to work when you need them or if your body might decide to take a respite from listening.
Better understanding someone with Parkinson's
Parkinson’s disease is a cornucopia of physical, sensory, mental, and emotional challenges that modern medicine is unable to fully understand, diagnose, treat, predict, or halt. With Parkinson’s in your life, I don’t think that I am alone in believing how critical it is but to ask what it is you can do to better understand someone with Parkinson’s disease:
- Start your own support group if you feel that you aren’t getting what you need from the groups near you. I ran a support group with my wife for 12 years. The group was focused on staying positive, upbeat, sharing of information on everything from doctors to medicines and therapies to lifestyle, and providing a safe place to share and learn.
- Whether we want to or not, Parkinson’s forces us to identify our strengths and fortitude. A support group allows us to unleash what we might never share with others. A close support group can help you come to grips with the reality that we are all human or that we all have or will have something.
- You are a person with an illness. You are much more than your illness and your illness does not define who you are. Share your knowledge. Speaking of your illness and informing those who need to know is the best way to break illness ignorance.
It’s a complicated question with an answer that varies. Parkinson’s disease sometimes makes me question my identity. I do know that I have been touched by so many amazing people with this illness who are gone. I do not take it lightly that I am still here.
Have you or a loved one ever tried speech therapy?