Being told that you have a chronic, incurable illness is one of the hardest things that a person can face. A diagnosis of Parkinsons disease carries with it the understanding that your body will never be the same. In the earliest stages, the diagnosis of Parkinsons has profound psychological effects that can be harder to deal with than the physical effects.
For many people recently diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, the first reaction is denial. It may take the form of declining to tell family and friends, going to specialist after specialist hoping to find one that will challenge the diagnosis, even avoiding doctors appointments and refusing treatment. Some doctors believe the first symptoms of Parkinsons may be chemical changes that cause depression and mood disorders, and this can make the period of denial even more difficult. Most people will go through the usual stages of grief denial, anger and eventually a gradual acceptance.
Adapting to life with Parkinsons disease involves making changes in many areas of your life, becoming skilled at knowing what you can manage on your own, and asking when you need to seek help from someone else. Youll need to come to a decision when to tell people about your illness, if at all, and how to deal with their reactions to it. Its normal to feel anger, frustration and fear but there are ways that you can cope with all of those and uphold a normal life for years after your diagnosis.
Dealing with a chronic illness is a long and difficult process. Its not a character failure to have difficulties, nor is it a sign of weakness to ask for help in dealing with it. The hardest thing for you to do may be to ask for help in dealing with your feelings if youre feeling overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the changes that youre facing. Keep in mind that depression and anxiety are symptoms of the disease, and frustrating ones since its hard to distinguish whats caused by the changes in your brain and whats caused by the reality of what youre dealing with.
Youre not the only one who has gone through this; there are many ways and kinds of help available to you. Among those are special services to deal with physical needs; support groups; therapy and counseling; in home services to help with housekeeping, cleaning and physical tasks that have become difficult; online support groups and discussion groups to help you learn more about the options available to you.
Living with Parkinsons disease is no picnic, but there are supports available to make it easier on you. Take the time to discover them, and work on asking for help when you recognize you need it. Even small changes can make a big difference in your relationship to your life.