I always have a choice. It may not be an easy choice but I always have a choice. I didn’t choose to have Parkinson’s, but I can choose how I live with it.
We make choices all the time, often without even realising it. Like many others, I’ve often thought ‘I’ve got no choice’, but what I’ve come to learn is that actually I do. Sometimes it isn’t an easy choice, but it’s still my choice. Once I recognised that and really accepted it, then I started to see things in a new light and everything changed. I started to take responsibility for my choices, and I now make different choices, which correspond with my priorities.
I have Parkinson’s Disease. It’s a degenerative neurological condition and currently there is no cure. Sometimes I feel terrified at the prospect of a future where my condition gets worse and I can’t cope. This is why I made two important life-changing choices. One, I am going to do everything I can to look after myself and be as healthy as I can, both physically and mentally – I don’t need any other health issues on top of Parkinson’s. Two, I am going to do everything I can to make myself more resilient so that I will be able to cope with whatever challenges (health or otherwise) that may come my way.
All the other choices I make on a daily basis need to support these two fundamental choices.
I’m less of a perfectionist now. I’m letting go of my old thinking that everything has to be done perfectly. I no longer beat myself up when things I do aren’t perfect. We don’t live in an ideal world, and that’s ok. I do my best under my current circumstances.
I pace myself. As I have less energy than before, I choose more carefully what to spend my precious energy on. On weekends, I plan activities interspersed with rest times, often even daytime naps. Occasionally, I may plan something I know will make me feel exhausted afterwards, but if it is something I really want to do – I won’t let the fact that I have Parkinson’s stop me, but I will make sure that my plans include rest times. However, I no longer agree to do things just to please others. I have to want to do it.
If I need help I will ask for it. I used to be stubborn and determined to do everything myself. But now doing simple things I used to take for granted can be a struggle. This includes all sorts of things, such as stuffing envelopes or stapling papers at work, chopping food, wrapping presents…it can sometimes seem like an endless list. However, I am learning to ask my colleagues, friends and family for help when I need it.
By knowing my priorities, and making every little choice with these in mind, I am learning to live well with Parkinson’s. I can still work hard and enjoy my life. I just need to adapt to my circumstances.