Parkinson’s knocks us off balance physically, mentally, and spiritually. A couple of days ago in “Fighting Parkinson’s, and awareness of our balance,” I focused on physical balance, including making certain our feet are pointing straight forward when we walk. Today, our focus is the issue of mental balance.
Here is part of what I wrote:
“It was a constant battle to keep my feet pointed forward, and I had to practice when sitting in a chair. At first, my calves would be in terrible pain after a minute or so, but over time, my muscles remembered what it was like to be pointed in the correct direction, and they did not punish me as much. Once I was able to master walking with my feet pointing forward, I got a little relief in my leg pain and lower back pain.
I write about this because walking and balance are critical parts of our mobility, and also, they are critical parts of our confidence when we are around others. Lacking the confidence that I could walk through a parking lot, or down the aisle at a grocery store, or through the auditorium at my child’s school without everybody staring at me and wondering “what is wrong with him” made it even more difficult to walk than it should have been…and it made balance impossible…physically, mentally and spiritually. The more they stared, the shakier I got.
Getting over the self-consciousness was a larger hurdle than the physical part. Parkinson’s wants it that way. The disease likes to feed on our psyches and insecurities, and it makes us awkward in a crowd so we prefer to be alone. And alone is how we feel…very alone. To get beyond this, we have to take a huge step and be with other people, and go out in public, and get comfortable in our own skin again. It sends a message to Parkinson’s that says, “I have the power to heal myself and you are not going to make me sit at home and deteriorate.’”
I know, easier said than done. However, the realization I came to over time was that it was my own mental chatter that was causing the increase in my symptoms when I was around others. I had a negative view of me — the way I looked, the way I moved, the way I shook — and I was projecting my negative image of my Parkinson’s-self onto others and it made me self-conscious and my symptoms got worse, making me more self-conscious, making my symptoms even worse. You know the feeling, and it is a relentless, vicious cycle.
So, how do we get out of this cycle? I decided I needed to not be so critical of the guy looking back at me in the mirror. I had been doing a good job of acceptance…acceptance I had the disease, acceptance I would be doing the Recipe for Recovery every day, acceptance that sometimes my symptoms would look worse, acceptance that I was healing inside. What I was having a hard time accepting was the guy in the mirror who didn’t have the foresight to see this coming. I looked at him and wondered how he could have been so off-guard that Parkinson’s invaded my being.
I was angry at me. And all that time I thought I had gotten rid of anger. How wrong was I?
My next realization was that I needed to be kinder to myself. Nobody could have seen Parkinson’s coming. Not me, and not any of you. If you are looking in the mirror and angry at the person looking back at you because he or she should have seen this coming, it is time to exchange your anger and frustration for patience and tolerance and understanding and kindness and love and hope…and share those emotions with the person in the mirror.
Here is what Marie had to say about this in her comment posted November 19, 2011:
“Because it is such a powerful component in my own recovery, I offer this :
Fully acknowledge yourself and give yourself credit for what you are doing. Love yourself for how truly brave you are and how dedicated you are to healing yourself. Thank yourself for this precious gift you are giving yourself. Sit in that feeling and give your brain a lovely dopamine bath. Our gracious guide, Howard, always tells us that we are doing it for ourselves, and still, I think we tend to praise everyone else for the inspiration they are providing. Be grateful to yourself, too, for having that opening that let the inspiration move you.
For me, this has been a good tool, and I hope it may be useful. I found it very hard to do, at first. Kind of embarrassing. And actually, it is even a little hard to write about now.
“What? She sits around loving herself????”
I’ll tell you, I do, every chance I get.”
Here is what Nancy Thomas had to say about it in her comment posted two days ago:
“On feeling self-conscious, I worried about a business meeting last week, only to get there and find I was meeting with someone who was concerned about how I might perceive his mobility .
Thanks to Howard and all of you, I’ve come to not mind people noticing. Because it gives me a chance to spread the word of hope.”
When you are kind to yourself and others, kindness comes back to you.
When you love yourself and others, love comes back to you.
When you spread the word of hope, hope comes back to you.
The next time you are around other people, instead of being self-conscious and projecting a negative image of yourself onto others, how about projecting kindness and love and hope, and then you can soak in all of the kindness and love and hope that will come right back to you. It helped me recover. It helped Marie recover. It is helping Nancy recover.
It will help you recover.
Aren’t you worth it?
All my best,
Please Note: On a previous post, “Fighting Parkinson’s, and it’s time to heal the world,” I explained what we are doing moving toward a clinical study of the Recipe for Recovery. I have received an outstanding response from people pledging to send their neurological records, and I already have received neurological records from people in 6 different countries. Yes, we do have the power to heal the world, and I am grateful for all of you.