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A Letter to My Former Self: Surviving a Parkinson's Diagnosis

There will be days you will want to quit. I know you can do this not just because I am like you but because I AM YOU. You (I) will get through things you didn’t know any human being could survive, and I can’t lie to my former self. This is going to hurt. The unrelenting loss of a degenerative condition progressing much faster than expected is enough to take anyone into despair.

Just don’t get lost in the proverbial rabbit hole of illness, because this form of isolation is its own killer. YOU must become the killer in this arena and killers don’t give up.

Pro tips for dealing with Parkinson's

Even though I'm nearing a decade since diagnosis, I still have no solutions or answers to offer, but here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t assume you’re alone. Everyone is dealing with something they find overwhelming.
  2. Depression is a liar. Don’t believe everything (or anything) you think.
  3. Like Mr. Rogers (the humble guru) advised, look for the helpers.
  4. Accept the fact that Parkinson's will slow you down.
  5. You are only a human being having an experience causing tremendous uncertainty. It's okay not to know what to do or how to adapt with any skill or grace. Things will be messy and chaotic sometimes.
  6. Enjoy and savor life’s small delights. A long walk with a friend. Music. Dancing. Love letters. Take risks. Not the type that put anyone in harm’s way, but risk being out of your comfort zone.
  7. You never know when serendipity will arrive!
  8. Don’t date or hang around anyone who refuses to “see” you clearly. You are dealing with things not everyone is capable of understanding.
  9. COMMUNICATE.
  10. Stay connected. You cannot do this alone.
  11. Cultivate and provoke compassion.

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