Parkinson’s disease (PD) is life-changing. For some people, a diagnosis can be a relief — an explanation for ongoing, unexplained symptoms. Others might experience loss or grief. Some may not even begin to process a diagnosis until years later.
Coming to terms with a Parkinson’s diagnosis is often the first of many changes a person living with the disease will navigate. The path forward, what you expect in a day, in relationships or in the future, can be uncertain. These day-to-day uncertainties can bring about feelings of ambiguous loss (a type of loss without closure).
In January 2023, the Parkinson’s Foundation launched our Mental Wellness Series, featuring blog articles and webinars dedicated to mental health conversations. The below tips are adapted from our first virtual round-table conversation in the new series. These tips can help you begin to discover healthy ways to navigate change when it comes to Parkinson’s.
- Acknowledge your grief or feelings of loss.
Throughout life, we experience change. Hobbies, careers, relationships and roles can further change and evolve with Parkinson’s disease. When uncertainty feels like a frequent companion, life can be challenging. Honor your feelings around these changes.
- Be kind to yourself.
Whether you are a person with Parkinson’s or a care partner, it’s important to recognize the challenges you face and take time out for self-care. Mindfulness can be helpful in processing change and practicing acceptance, and exercise can ease depression and other PD symptoms.
- Lighten your load.
Connection — sharing your worries, your trials and your joys, and listening to the experiences of others walking their own path with Parkinson’s — are good reminders that you are not alone. Whether talking to a trusted friend, reaching out to a local support group or connecting through an online discussion group, such as PD Conversations, you can begin to open up about your hopes and frustrations.
- Build a care team.
People experience the symptoms of Parkinson’s differently. Empower yourself with information on the disease management therapies that work best for you. Team-based care relies on various healthcare professionals with PD expertise to manage your symptoms on an as-needed basis.
- Mental health care can help you work through change. This can include counseling and psychotherapy (talk therapy). Find reasons to hope.
Radical acceptance is when you acknowledge and honor the reality of life, as it is, in the moment. It can free you to channel your energy toward activities in which you find purpose, meaning and hope. For some, volunteering holds promise and purpose. Others find hope and community through raising awareness or sharing their story. In the face of continual change, exploring healthy coping techniques and finding mental wellness strategies that work for you can help you stay connected to what matters most.
The Parkinson’s Foundation is here for you. Explore more of our Mental Wellness resources now: