8. Reaching out to friends for help doesn’t make you a “burden.”
When you’re first diagnosed, you might feel embarrassed or guilty about asking for help, worrying that you’re burdening others. But the more you become accustomed to Parkinson’s and realize how helpful it is when friends lend a hand (or ear, or any type of support that lightens your load). There’s no need to feel guilty for asking loved ones to support you, and any true friend will be glad to do it.
“Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that is slowly stealing many of my motor and cognitive skills. Friendship has become more precious as I learn to ask for and accept help more often,” Olson said. “And… surprisingly, my friends are grateful when I ask for and accept their help.”
9. Parkinson’s may be invisible, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Like many chronic illnesses, Parkinson’s may not always cause “obvious” symptoms. However, just because there are times when other people can’t “see” your symptoms, that doesn’t mean you’re not still feeling painful, uncomfortable symptoms, mental healthchallenges like anxiety and depression, or dealing with the stress of communicating with insurance companies or getting accommodations from work. “Invisible” doesn’t mean “easy!”
“Parkinson’s is an invisible disease and the majority of people don’t get that. It’s a disease that may not look like much of anything to some people, but if you’ve got it, you had better believe it’s something indeed,” Woodbridge said.
10. Friends who also have Parkinson’s can bring so much joy to your life.
One of the things you likely heard when you were first diagnosed was, “Join a support group!” If the suggestion didn’t thrill you when you first heard it, you’re probably not alone. But people who have literally felt what you feel can offer a kind of support and understanding that no one else can. And nowadays you don’t have to go to support groups in person — you can join groups on social media or post Thoughts and Questions on The Mighty to meet and chat with other people with Parkinson’s.
“I cherish my friends with Parkinson’s disease. We understand each other in ways that our family and friends do not,” Krischer said.
11. Parkinson’s affects younger people, too.
It’s true that the average age of diagnosis is 60. However, young onset Parkinson’s diseaseoccurs in people younger than 50, and affects 2 to 10 percent of the one million people with Parkinson’s disease in the U.S.
As Nikki Louiselle, blogger at Just Shake It Off, explained:
Unless you live with Parkinson’s disease you most likely see it as an ‘old person’s’ disease. I did, until I heard those devastating words. Until I received my diagnosis 17 months ago, I thought it was something old people had. I’m 46.
12. Parkinson’s might teach you things you never knew about yourself.
There’s no doubt that the physical and emotional challenges of Parkinson’s can change your life in pretty difficult ways. But some people with Parkinson’s find that it helps them discover who their true friends are, focus on the “little things” that make them happy, and learn to appreciate a slower pace of life.
“My Parkinson’s disease may have reduced my speed for moving and my reaction time, but in doing so, it has allowed me to appreciate the world at a pace that I would have never experienced. I am grateful for so much!” Robb said.
Whether you are seeking a diagnosis, just received your diagnosis, or have been living with Parkinson’s for a while, hearing what others have gone through can hopefully bring you reassurance that you’re not alone. Parkinson’s may feel like it’s turned your life (and body) upside down, but there are people out there who are ready to support you.