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Staying Safe in Summer’s Sunshine

soft voice, wish, fires, silent symptoms, marriage, tasks, bucket lists, forgetfulness

Summer is here in the U.S., bringing with it humidity and heat. So, in the midst of the stickiness, sweatiness, and eventually, the ripened smelliness, we might ask ourselves, “Should I stop drinking water and dehydrate myself so that I stop sweating, thereby skipping the stinking?”

Uh, not recommended. 

Dehydration adds to problems already in the brain of a person with Parkinson’s disease. Since we already have enough problems with our brains, why create more? 

When we are dehydrated, our brain cells don’t function properly, which leads to cognitive issues. Dehydration, even if slight, causes our brains to work harder at whatever mental or physical tasks we may find ourselves involved in.

Just last year, I experienced my first (and hopefully last) heatstroke. Thankfully, my neighbor is a nurse and recognized what was happening, and helped me out.

With the onslaught of summer’s heat, it’s important to follow some simple, healthy guidelines while basking or working in the summer sunshine.

It may seem elementary, but staying hydrated is the best way to stave off getting overheated, and water is the best choice for that. 

Adding a lemon or lime wedge to your water is helpful for those who don’t care for “plain” water or who have a hard time tolerating it. A lemon also can help you drink more water than you normally do because it tends to make you thirstier.

Wear light-colored and loose clothing when working out in the garden. Do your outside chores in the morning or in the evening when it is cooler.

Know the signs of heatstroke. According to the Mayo Clinic, they include a flushed face, high body temperature, headache, nausea, rapid pulse, dizziness, and confusion. 

You may not mind sweating or being sticky. You may not even mind being stinky. But becoming sickly because you allowed yourself to become dehydrated on a hot summer day isn’t worth the risk.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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What We Wish We Had Known

wish, fires, silent symptoms, marriage, tasks, bucket lists, forgetfulness

There is a question circulating once again in the Parkinson’s forums and Facebook groups. “What do you wish you had known when you were first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease?” This cycle of inquiry seems to repeat itself about once every six months. 

It’s almost like, by asking that question, we hope to find a hidden treasure we weren’t told about at the onset of our diagnosis. Some hidden gem will unearth itself that we somehow missed. It’s as if we are looking for some sort of magic needed to skim over the hard stuff. Something that will enable us to press on as if we were superhuman in the face of our disease. But, we aren’t superhuman. I know that personally.

There isn’t any one answer that will be “it” to our question of what we wish we had known. There isn’t one answer that will fulfill the longing for the secret to making the acceptance of our diagnosis easier. Depending on where you are in your journey with Parkinson’s, there could be several answers.

What would your answer be to the question above? Here are some inquiries made by those who answered that question:

Denial won’t make it go away. Choosing not to accept the truth or even admit it into your consciousness doesn’t mean you nullify its existence. Viktor Frankl wrote, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” When we can no longer change the fact we have Parkinson’s disease, we begin to live at a new level. 

Our future does not rest on the diagnosis we get, but on how we respond to that diagnosis. It’s not a worse life. It’s different. Learn to accept it and get on with living because there’s lots left to do and to live for.

Many people wish they were told about things they could do to slow the progression, such as exercise. It’s hard to recommend treatment when you’re not sure what you’re treating, as is often the case when trying to diagnose Parkinson’s. The exercise phenomena in Parkinson’s is pretty new. According to recent studies, exercise is said to be hailed as the new medicine in Parkinson’s disease.

When I was diagnosed in 2004, exercise wasn’t often brought up. The ideas of boxing, dance, tai chi, and more were pretty new in terms of their benefits for Parkinson’s disease.

Sometimes I have wondered if exercise was downplayed because the disease was predominant in older people. However, with the rise of young-onset Parkinson’s disease, younger people may not be as feeble or afraid to try something more strenuous than chair exercises. 

We have come through a period of Parkinson’s history that relied heavily on medications to treat the disease. Now we’re finding that exercise makes a bigger difference than a handful of pills. And though we may wonder why we didn’t know or start exercising sooner, it’s never too late.

It is not uncommon to grieve over this disease. We have lost a lot. Parkinson’s can steal our identity and independence, and ruin our relationships. For those who’ve been through the grief process of Parkinson’s — it’s normal. And just because you’ve grieved once doesn’t mean it won’t surface again. With every new symptom that surfaces, you might experience something. Or, you may experience nothing. Everyone is different.

Don’t let your diagnosis keep you from those things you love to do, such as dancing, as this clip shows. Some of us may appear or feel awkward in our movements, but often those awkward movements disappear for a bit while dancing, exercising, and more.

Finally, what we should remember, Parkinson’s or not, is that laughter is the best medicine. Keep or get a sense of humor. Laugh at yourself. Laugh out loud. Just laugh. It does a body good. Isn’t that what we’re striving for anyhow?

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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Learning to Live Simply With Parkinson’s Disease

wish, fires, silent symptoms, marriage, tasks, bucket lists, forgetfulness

A sign hangs above my desk with only one word on it: “Simplify.”

The sign isn’t fancy by any means. But it does make me stop to ponder what that small word means to me. And it must have made an impression for me to fork out $3 to buy it. 

It may seem elementary, but somewhere in its simplistic message, a great freedom can be found. This type of freedom whispers to our heavy hearts to let go, to simplify, to take what seems complicated and make it simple. But is that possible with Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s is complicated, there’s no doubt about that. It’s a tough illness, as are so many others. Because it’s tough, it’s important to make our journey with it as simple as possible. We simplify by letting go of things, and sometimes people.

I recently read somewhere (I can’t remember where) that Parkinson’s is the “big litmus test” of the people meant to stay in our lives. I would add, “And the people we need to let go.”

Just as things in our life can drag us down, so can people. Family, friends, acquaintances all have the capacity to hurt us, and unfortunately, they will (and vice versa).

We can start simplifying our lives by forgiving and then letting go. Make a stand for newfound freedom by not allowing the past to rob you of the good days you have left. Clear the clutter from your emotional life and move on.

The places that make you anxious are the places that may need simplification. As our emotional and mental lives become cluttered and need simplifying, so can our material lives. When we leave our homes cluttered and filled with stuff, it can affect us mentally. 

I remember years ago a friend told me her husband “got it.” After coming home and finding her in tears after a long day with three little ones, he started cleaning up the kitchen. She asked him what he was doing. 

“When the house is a mess, you’re a mess,” he responded.

He did get it. Wise man.

As this disease progresses, my memory seems to forget things I wish to remember. So, I make lists to lighten the anxiety I often feel when I forget something.

I have daily and weekly lists. My daily list includes when to take medications, and it makes time for exercise. It has a time slot for reading,  journaling, household duties, and phone calls I need to make. Distraction can be part of the disease, so having even the simplest of lists makes this disease more manageable. 

We can bring simplicity into our lives in many ways, but this about sums it up: Live simply so that you may simply live.

In other words, simplify!

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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No Matter Your Age, We’re in This Together

fires, silent symptoms, marriage, tasks, bucket lists, forgetfulness

I recently read that Parkinson’s disease affects an estimated 1 in 100 people over age 60. When I started my Parkinson’s journey, I was in high school.

I didn’t know that what was happening to me was something known as Parkinson’s disease. I didn’t even know what Parkinson’s disease was or what it was capable of. I was a young’un in the community, unaware that there were Parkinson’s communities, too.

My symptoms were minor at the time, but they existed. Sometimes they were hard to ignore, but ignore them I did. 

I soon had small children to distract me. As they began to grow, so did the number of calendar entries, which led to more distractions. Meanwhile, I continued to ignore my symptoms, but eventually, it became obvious I couldn’t ignore them any longer, so I scheduled a doctor’s appointment.

I’ve often thought about the transition from young-onset Parkinson’s disease to “normal” Parkinson’s. Is there a time of transition, or does one simply slide from one into the other? If diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s, when does it become “regular” Parkinson’s? 

According to the statistic I previously mentioned, what I refer to as “normal” Parkinson’s disease occurs at the age of 60 or older. Young-onset Parkinson’s is said to occur generally between the ages of 21 and 50. In rare cases, it has been diagnosed at an earlier age than 21.

I have spent the last decade journeying through the years that Parkinson’s statistics seem to pay little attention to: 50- to 60-year-olds. But rather than feeling overlooked or left out from the Parkinson’s crowd during my 50s, I feel blessed. This is because I discovered early on what was happening inside of me. I learned earlier than most that life, and those with whom we share it, should never be taken for granted. 

Many live as if life will never end. But people with a disease are aware their bodies are giving out. 

It’s been said that Parkinson’s disease usually progresses more slowly when diagnosed at an earlier age. Being attuned to this fact, I have strived to to get as much out of life as I can. 

My life may not compare to someone else’s in terms of activities. I haven’t climbed mountains, run marathons, ridden an ostrich, or caught a greased pig as a means to advocate and go all out for Parkinson’s awareness. Those weren’t the opportunities afforded me, nor do I think they are my purpose in having this disease. We are not all called to do the same things. Some of us climb our mountains, some walk the trails, others swim the seas, and some, like me, write about it.

One of my favorite opportunities in living fully is spending time with my family, especially my grandkids. By seizing the opportunities to care for my little “grands,” my energy has come on strong when I needed more of it. I think there is something magical about grandkids that makes magic like that happen.

Whatever your opportunities or choice in how you spend your precious time are, seize every moment. You may be a young-onset person with Parkinson’s or a person with “regular” Parkinson’s. You may be floating somewhere in the middle, trying to navigate life in your 50s. Wherever you are, keep moving forward, keep pressing on, and don’t give up. We’re in this together, no matter how old we are.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post No Matter Your Age, We’re in This Together appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Going Through the Fires of Parkinson’s … and Blooming

fires, silent symptoms, marriage, tasks, bucket lists, forgetfulness

In the same way a wildfire can take your breath away, so can a flower. Especially if it’s standing amid charred, blackened earth. Once there stood tall majestic black oaks, madrone, manzanita, and pine trees. Now there remains only ghostly profiles of those trees, their leaves and bark burned bare.

My husband and I were driving back to southern Oregon after visiting my in-laws in California. We passed through several areas where recent wildfires had claimed the rights to dry vegetation. Pine trees stood out like tall, black charcoal pencils, their tips pointed upward. 

As we drove through the wasteland, which seemed void of any life, I began to notice something. Small areas of yellow mixed with orange sat scattered on the hillside. Clumps of pretty flowers stood out demanding attention.

Upon returning home, I looked for information on the flower I saw. I didn’t find that one, but I did find information on another flower called the fire poppy. 

The fire poppy, considered by some to be the most vibrant of all wildflowers, emerges only after a wildfire. The seeds have been dormant in the ground, waiting for the right conditions to pop through scorched soil. The seeds can lie in wait for decades before fires prompt them to start the growing process. 

So, what are the growing conditions that cause these flowers to come alive? They are much the same as any other seeds, with one exception: they need the elements of a wildfire. 

It sounds crazy, but if you think about it, it’s not so crazy. Some of the most captivating things, like gold, must go through a purification/refining process by fire to stand out from the rest.

We who shuffle around day to day with Parkinson’s disease are being refined and purified. A wildfire has swept through our lives in the form of a diagnosis that left us jarred and shaken. We grieve that we may never grow again, dead to all we have ever known. 

Somewhere deep within the hallowed ground of our spirit, tiny seeds await. They are ready to sprout and push through the crusty, ashen earth. The wildfire has passed. The rains and the sunshine have come. New growth is busy beneath the soil, preparing to make an appearance.

My 5-year-old grandson loves to help me in my garden. He has planted many seeds with me. He gets so excited as he waits with great expectation of what will one day bloom and grow. 

It reminds me of the fire poppies. They don’t bloom until they have been through the fire. And when they do bloom, they will be beautiful and stand out. 

Just like you. 

You, who have been through the scorching of Parkinson’s fires. You, who have come through more beautiful than ever. 

Making beauty out of ashes. That’s what wildfires can do.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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Holding Your Thoughts Captive to Ease Anxiety

silent symptoms, marriage, tasks, bucket lists, forgetfulness

I was doing OK until I read the title of a webinar: “Navigating the New Normal.” Then it hit me — there is no normal. As they say, normal is just a setting on your clothes dryer.

There is no normal in disease, and there is no normal in life. Once we begin to make ourselves comfortable and fall into a routine with Parkinson’s disease, the cart overturns. Again. We are left in a jumbled state of confusion.

What once was routine now needs to be altered and adjusted to fit what some refer to as “the new normal.” What once was familiar, typical, and common in our day-to-day routine has bolted from our life. 

Everything keeps changing, and change often brings anxiety, nervousness, fear, and more. 

I don’t do well with change. Familiarity is what comforts me. I don’t like carrying around feelings of anxiety. But how do I keep from being blindsided and allowing that to happen?

I have had a panic attack a few times while lying in bed. These attacks can be triggered by my rampant thoughts and are common in Parkinson’s disease.

I have had thoughts of panic over this insidious disease. Financial hardships and unfinished tasks can lead to a racing heart and shortness of breath. Some people who are struggling with Parkinson’s disease have had the additional stress of unfaithful spouses or caregivers who have passed away.

How does one cope with those new normals? How does one deal with the anxiety those situations bring?

The one thing I have learned is to take my thoughts captive. I try not to allow them to run loose through my mind. Panicking is a reaction to things we think we have no control over. Panic is anxiousness run amok and the means by which we are led into despair.

When you are tethering your thoughts, substitute them with positive ones. It is helpful to read something comforting like poems, hymns, or the Psalms, if you are a Christian. Singing breaks down anxiousness, too. These ideas won’t cure you from attacks, but they may help you get through them.

You may have to live disabled in your body, but you don’t have to become mentally disabled by your thought life. Choose to be hopeful, not anxious. Choose to focus your thoughts and your feelings on what brings you peace. No matter what changes in life, focusing on hope and practicing peace will never leave you blindsided.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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You Beat Parkinson’s by Living Your Life

silent symptoms, marriage, tasks, bucket lists, forgetfulness

Stuart Scott, ESPN’s beloved late sportscaster, once said, “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”

I say you beat Parkinson’s disease the same way: by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.

Notice anything that stands out in those two statements? Striving to beat a disease is about life. It’s about living. To reiterate: It’s about how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.

I hope the way I live is the same as how I want to live. For example, I want to live with joy. But wanting to live a certain way and actually living that way doesn’t always happen. I may unintentionally walk around with a frown, which often is classified as a masked or stone face in Parkinson’s. They are not very inspiring and often can be misleading. 

A few years ago, I started feeling disheartened by comments I’d receive about my expressionless demeanor from well-meaning people who were uninformed about Parkinson’s.

“What are you so mad about?” I often was asked. Or, “Why are you so sad?”

Because the power of suggestion is so strong, sometimes when I heard these questions enough I would feel sad or mad. So, I’d pray about it. And I’d practice smiling. And you know what? Now people ask me, “What are you so happy about?”

I tell them that God gave me my smile back. In the Parkinson’s world, that’s a miracle. I suppose you could say it is part of the manner in which I live — with a smile on my face.

I want to live with courage, but when thinking about the future, I admit that at times I am not very brave. I want to be fearless when faced with the grim possibilities of my final days. I don’t want to shrink away from the “what ifs.” I don’t want to become smaller by recoiling against this disease. Instead, I want to stand ready and strong, and with fortitude, face those “what ifs” head-on.

Why do I live? I think the answer is found by asking, “What is my purpose for today?” or “What motivates me?”

I want to encourage others. I want to bring light to their cloudy days. I want to show them that one bad day doesn’t have to be the template for every day. And I want to remind them, as many times as it takes, that they are not alone.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post You Beat Parkinson’s by Living Your Life appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Despite My Weariness, I Continue to Encourage Others

silent symptoms, marriage, tasks, bucket lists, forgetfulness

With Parkinson’s disease, sometimes it feels as if I’ve been carrying a ball and chain around for years. Those chains have the ability to pull me down into shades of darkness if I let them.

I admit, sometimes I allow access because my reserve gets low — I don’t have the strength, the desire, or the courage to fight.

Sometimes it seems as if I’ve had this disease forever, and the time to retire from Parkinson’s has come. But we don’t have a choice about retirement from diseases that fester in our lives and wear down our spirits. They keep on keeping on, taking and taking, and we keep allowing it because in reality, we can’t stop it. We can delay it and slow the progression, but not stop it.

Sometimes I reach a place where I am plain tired. I feel as if the time I have given to this disease and in making others aware about it has been wasted. I’ve been worn down and wearied not only from Parkinson’s disease, but also from advocacy, which has been known to wear me down a time or two. 

When tiredness and weariness come to you, how do you continue pressing on and encouraging others along their journey?

One thing is certain: I can’t lose hope. I have to believe I am making a difference for something, or someone, even if it’s only one person. I must silence the lies that whisper that my life was for naught. I must believe that every smile I gave away was never wasted, and every paragraph I wrote to encourage another along their journey served a definite purpose. Hope is stationed in my spirit, and from that I draw endurance to keep going, to keep fighting.

We don’t go into retirement from our diseases until we have written that last needed word of encouragement or given away that last smile. 

Though I can get discouraged and feel defeated, I have hope. I will hang onto hope even when it feels like there is nothing left to hold onto. I know I have at least one more smile to give away and a few words of encouragement left in me. I bet you do, too.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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The Silent Pain of Parkinson’s

silent symptoms, marriage, tasks, bucket lists, forgetfulness

It may take a while to get a diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease. You may see several neurologists, physicians, or movement disorder specialists before receiving correct results.

It’s easier to diagnose Parkinson’s when a patient has the classic symptoms: tremors in one or both hands, changes in handwriting, or a shuffled gait. When the symptoms are “hidden,” it’s harder to make a diagnosis.

You can see when a person is dealing with tremors because they shake. You watch them sign their name to a check and you can barely read it, signifying a change in handwriting. When they walk, one or both arms don’t swing, and they might resemble a penguin because of their shuffling gait. All of these are outward signs of Parkinson’s. 

Parkinson’s doesn’t usually present itself so simply. A patient often goes on a wild goose chase before being diagnosed. They don’t present the symptoms that cause a neurologist to look at Parkinson’s as the culprit for their ailments. 

I was misdiagnosed with lupus when I started my journey down the Parkinson’s road. It is not an easy disease to diagnose as it can resemble other diseases. It would take over 10 years before I was correctly diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease.

One of my earliest symptoms was internal tremors. I was in my last year of high school when those began. But no one could see them — not even a physician, a neurologist, or a movement disorder specialist. 

My next noticeable symptom, which took me to an eye doctor, was a hemorrhaging optic nerve. I thought I needed glasses. It turned out to be a bit more than that. About five years after that incident, I started treatment for lupus, due to some other changes that were occurring. It was a guessing game.

What finally got me into a neurologist were tremors, gait changes, and some other symptoms. What causes me the most inconvenience now is a “silent” symptom — pain. It can often be debilitating, causing me to miss what I want to experience — life itself.

It’s frustrating to be misdiagnosed or told you’re imagining things because others can’t see what you deal with. But, in spite of what others may think or voice, we must experience what we can in life, even while silently forging through the pain.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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Is Journaling for You?

marriage, tasks, bucket lists, forgetfulness

Ever since I can remember I have kept a journal. People use journals to record their dreams, prayers, activities, and even the weather. In the end, our journals are thrown away, burned, or lost. Our thoughts, dreams, and prayers disappear with our last breath.

So why keep a journal that will end up tossed out?

In addition to leaving encouragement through the words you penned to paper long ago, journaling has health benefits.

A few years ago, I read about a study led by Qian Lu, assistant professor and director of the Culture and Health Research Center at the University of Houston. The study used journaling as a means of dealing with cancer. It likened patients who are experiencing cancer to war veterans who experience post-traumatic stress. Similarly, like war veterans, cancer patients deal with loss, depression, anxiety about treatment, grief, fear of the future, and more. Sound familiar?

According to Melissa Carroll, who wrote about Lu for the University of Houston, “writing about emotionally difficult events for just 20 to 30 minutes at a time over three or four days increased the immune function. The release offered by writing had a direct impact on the body’s capacity to withstand stress and fight off infection and disease.”

Journaling as a form of medicinal therapy? 

Sometimes journaling can take on different forms, as in the previously mentioned study. Another way journaling has benefited me is by tracking my gratitude.

You may not be able to control what is going on around you, but you can control how you respond to it. Responding with a feeling of anxiousness causes worry and nervousness. Responding with gratitude can change everything. 

Creating a sense of gratitude tends to focus your mind on the positive. It keeps you forward-looking and grows your hope. 

An attitude of gratitude

Several years ago, a bestselling book, “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, taught a good journaling technique. In her book, Voskamp committed each day to recording at least three things she was grateful for. This began to open her eyes to many more reasons to be thankful. After reading the book, I took up the challenge. 

The outcome? Once on a roll of being grateful, it’s amazing how many things I found that I had taken for granted every day. That’s the key: to start noticing the goodness around you. 

A Bible verse speaks about a similar subject: “… [W]hatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

If you’re stuck under clouds of gray and anxious about things happening in your life, ask yourself, “What did I see today that was lovely?” Write about such things. What did I admire in someone today? Write about such things. You get the idea.

Journaling can help you get down on paper what is difficult to say aloud. It can be a pathway to release anxiety and create gratefulness. It’s just plain good for the body.

If you’d like to read how a fellow advocate took a horrific experience and pulled gratitude out of it, check out fellow columnist Jean Mellano’s recent column.

Do you practice journaling? How has it helped? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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