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6 Things That Help My Mental Health as Someone With Parkinson’s

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I am now entering my 44th year living with Parkinson’s disease. Now, it might sound a little odd to many, but I have never regarded myself as “ill” or “sick” or “suffering” from a disease. It hurts, it’s a massive inconvenience at times, it’s as unpredictable as the U.K. weather, it affects people that care for you and it can, if you let it, ruin your own self esteem and relationship with yourself.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

On my Parkinson’s journey, I have self-harmed countless times. Fortunately, the scars both mentally and physically have healed, and all I have to show on my arm now is a scar from falling through an awning at a roadside bar in my youth which I hadn’t planned at all. Clearly, the awning wasn’t as stable as I had suspected and I had locals rushing to my aid as the effect of my fall rippled down the roadside as the awning tumbled domino style length by length along with the metallic poles. 

Depression and apathy are common symptoms of Parkinson’s, and Christmas time is particularly hard work as everyone else appears to be happy and having fun. But there are tips and hacks that you can use to help keep the “Black Dog” at bay:

1. Never compare your own version of Parkinson’s with someone you have read about or seen on TV. You have your own life to lead, which has its own unique set of challenges. By all means, use suggested coping strategies to see how they work; but the chances are you will have to tailor them to your own situation.

2. Try not to spend long periods alone with your own thoughts. “Parky” people are notorious over-thinkers, which can lead to bad decision making.

3. Try and join in as much as possible, even if you’re out of your comfort zone. Life is rich with plenty of experiences, so try not to limit yourself .

4. Encourage and praise other people if they do something you are impressed by, or say “thank you.” If you show someone what they have done has helped you, it will help them, too.

5. This might seem like a “strange” tip for helping your mental health, but stay hydrated. It’s amazing how irritable you can become if you are thirsty or hungry.

6. Finally, don’t worry about how other people view you — they are not in your shoes.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season!

Getty images via gud_zyk.

Originally published: December 18, 2019
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