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10 New Year's Resolutions I'm Making as Someone With Parkinson's

I am not a fan of New Year’s, although I really should be. I remember my childhood and early teens with Parkinson’s as difficult with some carefree times, but I never, ever, looked forward to New Year’s Eve .

As the years have passed, I have become much more attuned with my emotions, and at New Year’s I become particularly tearful as revellers grab hands and begin to sing Auld Lang Syne — it’s a joyous and reflective song but always, always makes me cry. (I’m even crying as I write this!)

It’s also the only New Year’s resolution I make every year and don’t keep. Ironically, in a cruel twist of fate, I now realize it is a side effect of Parkinson’s known as pseudobulbar affect (or PBA), which means you can laugh and cry uncontrollably at inappropriate moments. Fortunately, although I blub at New Year’s, I remain joyful for the next 364 days.

As I have gotten older, the usual suspects of “stop smoking,” “exercise more,” “drink less alcohol” and “cut out sugary snacks” have all been resolutions of mine. Fortunately, I have been successful in virtually all of them. I haven’t smoked for 14 years, I drink far less alcohol, I try to move more and I eat far less sugary foods than I used to.

However, having lived with Parkinson’s for over 44 years now, each new year brings with it new challenges — both physical and emotional — and hence a whole new set of New Year’s resolutions.

2020 is also the start of a brand new decade, and sadly one I may not see the end of. This is why my first resolution is:

1. To make a will.

I haven’t even contemplated what I may leave to my dependents yet! I guess this is how I survive day to day, by not thinking about what may be, so I concentrate on the here and now. I realize that the inevitable will happen, so in my best boy scout manner I must be prepared!

2. To tell my family how much I love and appreciate them.

Life cannot be easy seeing someone refusing to take their degenerative condition seriously, and I often forget to do the simple things that can make people smile from the heart. This includes sayingI love you.”

3. To visit my elderly parents more often.

Since I moved away from home, my life has blossomed and I thank my parents for that. Seeing your adopted son grow up coping with a disease of old age like Parkinson’s must have been devastating — there isn’t a handbook to follow, and like most parents they have done their utmost to ensure I have a chance in life .

4. To move more  slowly to reduce falls.

I fall in the house 10+ times a day. Taking life a little slower has multiple benefits and allows you to look after you!

5. To be more accepting of offers of help when needed.

This includes taking onboard advice from my occupational health advisor. When you have lived with a chronic disease longer than the person helping you has been alive, never assume you know everything: you don’t. Life lessons can be learned from anyone of any age if you listen and consider what they are saying.

6. To promote my wellness and educational tool Parkylife: the brighter side of Parkinson’s.

Bright colourful artwork makes people feel so much better about themselves. (Check it out at www.parkylife.com). 

7. To take time to enjoy the countryside with my wife.

I often stay in too much and watch the TV because it’s comfy, warm and safe. I want to get some fresh air, even if it means being outside of my comfort zone. TV is not real life like the countryside is!

8. To watch less TV.

The media can be very depressing. I want more positivity!

9. To be able to write again.

Having Parkinson’s can make the simple act of writing a letter nigh on impossible! In 2020, I am going to try to write some letters .

10. To be kind to myself.

Lastly, in 2020 I am making a promise to look after my mental wellness and be kind to myself.

Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash.