Tag Archives: Anxiety

Radio Parkies Podcast 9

Hello.  This is my Radio Parkies broadcast from 10th August 2019, with end of broadcast song…

Podcast topics:

  • Introducing Dean.
  • Finding things to appreciate.
  • Brexit; concerns over medications supply.
  • Dean’s Parkinson’s Quiz Answers.
  • Song: ‘Try’ by Pink.

 

Select the following link, to listen:

Dean’s Broadcast of 10th August 2019.

 

Select the following link, for the song:

 

(C) Dean G. Parsons. 2019.

Advertisements

Dean’s Weekend Stimulator

Good morning from a wet Friday in England. We have ten days of stormy weather arriving today! Still, the rain keeps these islands green and lush.

What are your plans for the weekend?

Try my 10 point plan this weekend and let me know how you get on.

1) Chat with at least one person, in-person.

2) Make a kind gesture for at least one person.

3) Spend at least 15 minutes outside, each day.

4) Listen to something you like for 10 minutes; from silence to heavy metal! From birdsong to water flowing.

5) Assess one room in your home and identify one change you can make, to make life easier.

6) Eat something you really like the taste of.

7) Put something in your home that smells nice; from a bowl of zesty citrus fruit, to a nice coffee pot. From a baking bread or cake to a fine fragrance jostick.

8 ) Touch things in your home to feel connected and appreciative; from a fluffy blanket or throw, to a plant. From your pet to your favourite outfit.

9) Look around your home. Are you and the things you appreciate and value about your life/your world represented there? From pictures of landscapes, to photos of happy memories. From objects that speak of you and your interests, to books that represent your heart and mind. Are you there, in what you see in your home?

10) Do one thing new or different. Break your routine. Try a new shop. Buy a different brand. Drive or walk a different route. Message someone you’d like to know more. Have a new experience. Change your appearance.

Try these 10 points and see how much more content you feel, emotionally.

Let me know how you get on! ❤️

Have a great, stimulating, explorative weekend.

(C) Dean G. Parsons. 2019.

Up Close Study

I was playing with my photo editor and decided to try to make a draft cover for my next book; an autobiographical poetry collection on my life with Parkinson’s.

I came up with the image you see above, in black and white. It’s not been filtered to remove or smooth. It’s just me, in black and white.

This is quite a bold move, for me. Such a close image feels very exposing and takes me out of my comfort zone. Doing what challenges us, I believe, is how we learn and grow.

It feels right, given the personal nature of producing any autobiographical work.

My book will be ready for publishing soon. I will announce the publication here, in due course.

I’m likely to self publish via Amazon. I doubt a publisher would go for such a specific work by a non-celebrity. Do you self-publish? How have you got on with designing your own book covers?

(C) Dean Parsons. 2019.

How Did That Happen?

I don’t know about you, but once in a while I need to sit and think about what has been achieved.  Today is a particularly wet, rainy day and so what better opportunity, as I complete administrative and writing tasks, than to think about what has been achieved in the first six months (already!) of this year.

What sort of a year have you had?  Mine has been somewhat of a whirlwind.  I am delighted to say that a great deal has been achieved, though.  I have written a lot of articles on this site and I have written and published three short stories on Amazon Kindle.  I have written two short plays and I achieved my Diploma in Creative Writing, back in January.  Somehow, while also running my psychotherapy practice and seeing that grow, I have also started to present a small weekly segment on a radio show!! I didn’t see that coming! How did that happen?  I love the surprises of life.

I have been through another review of my health, to see how I am doing in regard to Parkinson’s.  I guess this is a tricky one to feel an accomplishment about, for each year my health deteriorates in some way as the disease progresses.  That said, I believe that the achievements in continuing to live life well and achieve new things, as well as maintaining existing components of life, is something of an achievement.  The new or increased medication that comes from each appointment with my Neurologist, reveals the nature of the progression of the disease but I can happily say that the medication is doing wonderful things and I am just incredibly active and busy.

I would recommend to anyone who is living with illness; whether that be physical health or mental health, that being creative is helpful and therapeutic.  For me, writing is top of the list and I would add gardening in there.  I also have a desire, having been glued to the BBC’s ‘Portrait Artist of the Year’ (I love that show!), to have a go at portrait painting.  That is on my agenda for this year; both to just dabble and, perhaps, find a tutor to teach me some basics.  What are you doing that brings creativity into your life, in a therapeutic way?

(C) Dean G. Parsons. 2019.

 

 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

One of the illnesses that I have seen clients deeply affected by, is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), or ME.  An illness that causes overwhelming tiredness, even after rest or sleep, CFS impacts significantly on the emotional and physical well-being of those who suffer from it.  In those of a working age, there is the added impact of family and working life being disrupted, by CFS, in the crucial years when earning money, parenting and career development are most demanding.

book girl indoors lampshade

Photo by Kha Ruxury on Pexels.com

When you ask people what CFS/ME is, they will usually say something about extreme tiredness but many people will not be aware that the illness comes with a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, such as:

  • sleep problems, such as insomnia
  • muscle or joint pain
  • headaches
  • a sore throat or sore glands that aren’t swollen
  • problems thinking, remembering or concentrating
  • flu-like symptoms
  • feeling dizzy or sick
  • fast or irregular heartbeats (palpitations).

(Source; NHS UK).

When people come to see me, they are usually trying to cope with the emotional and psychological impact of CFS.  Many will be suffering increased anxiety, depressive feelings, pessimistic thoughts, low self-esteem and a sense of being defeated by something more powerful.

Some people will come to me because the impact of the illness has caused difficulty within relationships, holding down a job/career and simply managing day to day life.

The work that I do with people living with CFS is to explore their thoughts, feelings and emotions.  I try to help the person to reconnect with who they were before the symptoms began and to consider where there are now genuine limitations caused by the illness, versus a sense of defeat that comes from the effort it takes to simply be.

Together, we explore options for how to live within new limitations, caused by CFS, while also looking at how to retain as much of the desired way of life as possible.  This involves reaching a point of acceptance about the past, present and the future but the focus is on helping the person make decisions about the future, that can then be reinforced by healthy and positive choices, going forward.  For example, my work focuses on taking a ‘What I can do’, rather than a ‘What I cannot do’ approach.

Mind, body and spirit.  Well, you will no doubt heard of these three aspects of being human.  In practice, my work focuses on developing healthy responses to emotions and thoughts and on developing physical well-being through healthier lifestyle choices.  I also look at how a person may gain a sense of spiritual well-being by investing more in connecting with nature, the environment and playing a role in contributing to their local community and society.  Where self-esteem is low, this is important.

Therapy models such as Gestalt, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Humanistic Therapy and Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy are but some of the methodologies that I use within my work with CFS.  Each individual is different and so, as an Integrative Counsellor/Psychotherapist, I am equipped to use a variety of therapy models and to tailor those to meet individual need; as I do no matter what issue a person comes to see me about.

For some people, the support of a medical professional, such as a Doctor or specialist Nurse is of benefit and so I will sometimes link a person to support through their local Doctor, alongside the work that I do.  Some clients will benefit from being prescribed pain medication and sleeping medication, for example, while working through therapy.

In many cases, I will also recommend a variety of complementary therapies; acupuncture, massage, carefully planned/graded exercise, the services of a nutritionist, Qi Kong, Tai Chi, to name but a few that can be of benefit.  These can run concurrent to counselling therapy or they can be planned to follow.

I would certainly recommend that anyone experiencing CFS aims to contact a support group, over time, in order to benefit from meeting other people with the illness.  This can add a sense of helping the person living with CFS, and their close loved ones, to feel less isolated by the condition, to build a social support network and to simply share what it is like to be a person with CFS.

Counselling and psychotherapy are a great means of either short-term or longer-term support, both in terms of developing coping strategies and in discussing more significant change that may be required, for example considering making changes to work or career and changing key aspects of daily lifestyle.

Help is available.  Contact a local therapist or do go along and speak with your Doctor or Practice Nurse.

(C) Dean Parsons 2018.

 

 

 

Talking Parkinson’s

In the Parkinson’s community that is Parkinson’s Road; a Facebook based global support group that I write for and co-facilitate, the subject of communication between people with Parkinson’s and those close to them, arises frequently.  This is an incredibly important and complex subject and this post is just another brief aspect of a far bigger discussion.

My belief, as a co-facilitator of an online support group, is that a main aspiration for the group is to improve communication about living with Parkinson’s, by all those affected by the disease.  That will be the person with Parkinson’s and also those close to them.  Learning to talk about living with illness or personal difficulty can be a daunting, complex process.  For example, it may not be something people are used to doing, comfortable about doing or even adept at doing.  In my work as a psychotherapist I see, all too often, how many people have not got a broad enough emotional vocabulary to be able to describe how they feel.  I see people who culturally may be more private or reserved and therefore incredibly reluctant to disclose something intensely personal.

Then there is the issue of conflicting needs.  A family member, friend or carer may have a need to know more, or to seek to know more frequently, whereas the person with Parkinson’s may want to only disclose about certain landmark changes, may want to disclose only certain types of things, may want to disclose only what they believe to be significant, which can be at odds with what others perceive as significant.  Sometimes, a person with Parkinson’s may simply want to maintain a privacy that they had always maintained in life and may resist and resent any suggestion of having to share or disclose to others, no matter how close the relationship.  These are but a few examples.

Some people with Parkinson’s may struggle to give any time for thought or discussion about Parkinson’s unless they are really required to, for they may hate the subject, be bored with/fatigued by it, be fearful of it or be in some other personal reaction to it. There are endless complexities to add to all of these examples. So, my hope is that groups like Parkinson’s Road help people like me, with Parkinson’s, and those close to us, to practice that communication.  To learn the skills for communicating such complexity and to learn to develop trust, comfort and the reassurance that communicating; sharing, at least a minimal amount and at mutually helpful junctures, will be of benefit.

Part of that process will also include learning to communicate/hear that there is nothing new to update on.  Nothing new to report, to share or to describe. The plateaus between stages of deterioration can, for some, be long periods of no deterioration or added difficulty (hopefully).  In these times, particularly, a person with Parkinson’s will often feel a sense of relief  and a desire to live as aloof to the subject of Parkinson’s as is possible.  They may just really need to not talk about Parkinson’s; just wanting a break from any periods where deterioration, and discussion about it, may have been intense.  They may simply crave for the opportunity to just focus on ‘normal’ day to day life issues, so to speak.

It is these times that can be particularly hard for those close to people with Parkinson’s, for they may feel shut out, excluded or not up to date on the experience that the person they care about is having.  This may add to their own anxiety.  Yet, such times are absolutely essential for the person with Parkinson’s, for the constant subject of Parkinson’s can feel draining, all consuming and even overwhelming.

The person with Parkinson’s may feel guilty at having to indulge in such times of reduced communication, for they may be aware that this can trigger uncertainty in those close to them but, my view is, that as they are the person with the disease, they are entitled to have this space.  They must be sure, however, to communicate something to those close to them, to indicate that they are okay; hence the “There is nothing new to describe or report” type of statement.

My own view is that as long as something is communicated; something honest, then that is good, even if all that is communicated is “There’s nothing new to report.” Sometimes, there is literally nothing new to report.  I would be concerned when people go quiet; withdrawn and uncommunicative. That is more a sign of increased risk of emotional distress or difficulty. This is something that I would urge those close to people with Parkinson’s to watch out for.

Communication about the disease, or about the person with the disease, can also be something that those close to the person with Parkinson’s may need a break from.  How often do the partners of those with Parkinson’s have to endure Parkinson’s Disease as the opening or headline discussion at social events, during routine phone conversations, emails and letters between other family members or friends?  How often is this subject set above, in terms of priority and importance, all other matters that are communicated about?  How often is there an occasion where Parkinson’s is not discussed?  It may always be there when, in fact, the ideal would be to not have to think about it beyond the very minimum required in any given day.  It may have seemed a long time since the person who does not have the disease, was actually made to feel like a priority by others.

Then, there are friends and family members who are close to the person with Parkinson’s but who are not a part of their daily, weekly or even monthly life.  Here, the dynamic differs yet again.  In this case, the person living at a distance from the person with Parkinson’s can feel ‘out of the loop’ and can build an anxiety about what is developing between communication updates or may develop a very different sense of what is happening in the life of the person with Parkinson’s, than that which is actually taking place.  The distant relative or friend may develop a stronger need for communication and information and this may be in conflict with what the person with Parkinson’s wants to invest in the subject; especially at times when, as described above, they themselves need time out from the subject as much as possible.

Or, conversely, the person with Parkinson’s may be the needier party and may push for the extra level of support that may put their distant friend or family member under pressure to provide a level of support that is very difficult to sustain over long distance.

Clearly, there are many variables here and each has an almost endless number of variations and complexities that further make the act of communication one that can seem like a minefield to navigate through.

In conclusion, I would simply recommend that communication between all involved should be as direct as possible, helpful, simple, unambiguous and honest.   It should be factual.

It should be remembered that the person with Parkinson’s does not have to disclose anything and it is their right not to do so when they do not wish to.  It must also be remembered that those close to the person with Parkinson’s are affected and impacted upon, particularly those who are directly involved in the daily life and support/care of the person with Parkinson’s.

Whilst it must absolutely be remembered that the person with the disease is the person who is primarily in the need of support and care, those close to them also have feelings and needs that must be considered, and met; unless the illness itself prevents the person with Parkinson’s being able to meet that need.  This is likely to be the case at least sometimes and, sadly, almost inevitably in the later stages of the disease progression.  This is why those close to a person with Parkinson’s can benefit from gaining support from other people in a similar role or situation, rather than seeking that support directly from the person with Parkinson’s.

(C) Dean Parsons. 2018.

Yes, You Can Do This

When life does not go your way.
When your world falls apart.
When your outlook is grey.

Yes, you can do this.

When trouble lurks at your door.
When there’s no way forward.
When the outcome looks poor.

You, you can do this.

When your self-belief is low.
When there’s no solution.
When there’s nowhere to go.

Yes, you can do this.

When you have been rejected.
When you feel all alone.
When you feel neglected.

Yes, you can do this.

When you feel the pain of loss.
When your dreams are shattered.
When you don’t give a toss.

Yes, you can do this.

When you feel completely lost.
When you don’t know which way.
When the warmth turns to frost.

Yes, you can do this.

For all that you are inside.
For all that lies ahead.
Good days will calm the tide.

Yes, you can do this.

 

(C) Dean Parsons 2018.

 

 

One Year On

Today is a day with some considerable meaning, for me.  It was exactly one year ago, today, that I met with my Neurologist and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  On that day I felt a mixture of relief at finally getting the clarity of a conclusive diagnosis after a twenty year search for answers, versus feeling a sense of terror at what this new reality would mean for me.

What an incredible year it has been.  There has been the joy at finally being prescribed medication that has helped me regain some of myself; some of my ability.  There, too, has been the ongoing deterioration in so many ways and, although this has been an ongoing deterioration over twenty years of symptoms, the pace at which that deterioration is happening has increased significantly in the last couple of years.  I take nothing for granted today; for each thing I am capable of in any given day is a blessing.

Then, there is the way that family, friends, neighbours and colleagues have all shown me support, love, kindness and compassion.  That has been truly uplifting and I cannot thank everyone enough for the words of encouragement, the moments of kindness and for the general consideration for what both Kevin and I, face together.

A6908B14-F08A-41D6-AE81-F7D3FFBC1EC9

Life has changed so much year on year but the pace of change is fast, now.  The people who have supported us through the very bad days that happen, and will continue to happen, cannot truly know how much their support and kindness has meant to us both.

Parkinson’s has brought me some good things, unexpectedly, too.  I have found a new strength within me; a motivation and I am doing things that I would otherwise have just put off.  For example joining a gym and making going to the gym a part of my life.  Who would have thought?!

New people have come into my life, from around the UK and the world; my Parkinson’s community.  Such an array of wonderful people all united by this common factor between us.  Some have become incredibly good friends and I now cannot imagine my life without them.

D261127E-CF35-410B-BA36-45117C777CC1

The future remains a very scary place to think about.  This disease gradually steals so much from you.  When I consider how affected I already am, at age 46, I feel quite shocked.  That said, to cope, I focus on what I can do and not what I cannot and I just live day by day, week by week, doing the best I can.  As I deteriorate in more ways, I use every opportunity to grow and develop in some other way and so I keep my life enriched, full and rewarding.

Fortunately, my illness is largely not visible; thanks to my medication at this time.  You would not know that I have Parkinson’s upon meeting me, although you would notice that I use a walking stick.  I am still very active.  I still run a busy counselling and psychotherapy practice, I study and I manage to lead a busy life.

So, how do I feel one year on from diagnosis?  I feel in some way at peace.  I have accepted that I have this disease.  I feel determined to fight for maintaining as much of my ability as I can, for as long as I can.  I feel scared.  The future is filled with potential change that I am unwilling to countenance; though I know it awaits.

I am, however, happy.

DeanGarden1

Above all, I feel thankful for the love I have in my life.

(C) Dean Parsons. 2018.

 

 

 

Taking a Meaningful Risk

“Depart from discretion, when it interferes with duty.” – Hannah More.

One of the aspects of being a person with Parkinson’s, that others may not consider, is just how difficult it is to tell others that you have Parkinson’s; particularly those closest to you.  For some, the decision to disclose the diagnosis can be an agonising experience.  Who to tell?  Why tell?  Who not to tell?  How to tell?  Endless evaluation as to the pro’s and the con’s of doing so, or not.  For others, it can be straightforward and there are many more who exist somewhere between the two options.

That there is an option at all, is something important.  Nobody has a right to know, right? Ah, well maybe your spouse/life-partner?  Your parents?  Your children?  Hmmm…who else do we feel is in that beloved inner-circle that ‘ought to know’?  Is that even correct?  Do those closest to us have a right to know?  Many would say yes but many would argue not.  Then, what of duty and responsibility?  What of honesty and trust?  This can become an ethical minefield for and against an individual’s right to complete privacy.

So, what goes on in the head of a person with Parkinson’s, that this ethical debate even needs to play out?  I can only answer from my own experience, by simply saying that the immediate concern is that of consequence.  What happens if I disclose that I have Parkinson’s Disease?

As a co-facilitator of Parkinson’s Road support community on Facebook, I asked about  this very question and it was interesting to see just how many people had not told some/all people in their lives that they have Parkinson’s.  Additionally, there was also feedback that many people with Parkinson’s just do not know how to explain their illness to those who know little or nothing about it. How do we find the right words?  What capacity does the person we are telling actually have?  We, with Parkinson’s, can often struggle to understand it ourselves!  How will people react?  What will change once I disclose?

I could create a list of reasons why we might not disclose to anyone at all and certainly why we might only disclose to a select few.  Not least of all reasons is the fear that we may be judged and then treated differently.  In particular, this seems to be the fear when people consider revealing their diagnosis to an employer.  Will I be understood?  Will I be supported?  Will I be treated badly?  Will I be excluded?  Will I destroy the opportunities that are otherwise ahead of me because now I may be seen as impaired or unfit?

There is no clear answer to any of these concerns, considerations and questions.  Sorry.  If you were thinking that I may be able to offer a pearl of wisdom that just makes it safe and okay to go ahead and disclose, I cannot.  What I can do, however, is tell you what I have done and how it worked for me.

I told everyone.  Initially, I spent a few days telling those closest to me.  I did this in-person where I could and via message online where I could not.  I didn’t categorise who I would tell beyond simply my own awareness that those closest to me had been on my journey of trying to find out what was causing my symptoms, for such a long time, that it would simply have been wrong not to tell them.  Plus, these people are in my life actively and so know when I am unwell or struggling; there would be no way of hiding that I have an illness.

Knowing that those closest to me would be affected by my illness and its impact, I decided that it would simply not be right or fair for me to exclude them from knowing.  They would need information and, potentially, support.  They may need to get that support from people close to them; their own friends, family members or work colleagues.  Soon, it felt like revealing to anyone created a domino effect that would lead to, or even require, others to be informed.

For me, the logical thing to do was to simply ‘come out’ as a person with Parkinson’s.  I’m a great believer in just naming things and then getting on with it.  I am who I am (yes, okay – that was nearly a well known anthem!) and it’s far less complex just to state it and then get on with it, than worry about who I may or may not have told.  This was not an unfamiliar scenario to me and I did not want to ever have to live in fear of judgement, ever again, based upon being in some way different.

Once those closest to me were made aware, I put a post on Facebook and simply announced my diagnosis to everyone else.  That was it.  Job done.  Anyone not connected with me on social media soon came to hear the news, via word of mouth, from those who were.

There have been many different types of reactions.  Nobody has been unkind and for that I am grateful.  Some people do comment on the fact that I am so open about having Parkinson’s.  I believe that by being ‘out’ you can give others strength to be open, too.  By talking we can educate, break down taboos and make society safer, more understanding and more compassionate.

I talk about Parkinson’s, sometimes, to help raise awareness.  I write and I blog about Parkinson’s for the same reason.  I co-facilitate, and write for, a global support group for people with Parkinson’s, and caregivers, because I have the skills and the insight to do so and it is a way to contribute something to people who may be in greater difficulty than myself.

I found that, once I accepted that I have a disease which has no cure and which will only get worse, there was no way of getting away from the fact that this is a significant part of my identity. It does not define who I am, but it is a significant part of who I am.  If anyone truly wants to know me, then they have to know the Parkinson’s for it affects most aspects of my life.  I only want relationships that are meaningful and so this aspect of who I am has to be known for any relationship to be meaningful.

My point is that we do have to be brave and ready to be able to disclose that we have Parkinson’s Disease. In my experience, the benefits of being ‘out’ about it are far greater than the potential consequences.

I would add that, when people care for you, they will want to be a supportive part of your life and they will want to understand the real and full you.  If you decide not to tell someone that you have Parkinson’s, you are making a decision for them.  By doing so, you are potentially denying them the opportunity to be the support to you that they would want to be.  You would deny them the insight that makes the relationship meaningful.  Eventually, without the meaningfulness, would that relationship gradually become distant?

I think we do have a duty, to our relationships, to give the other person the opportunity to understand who we truly are.  It is a risk.  Conversely, not disclosing to those in your life that you have Parkinson’s is also a risk.

(C) Dean Parsons.  June 2018.

 

 

 

It’s Good for the Brain

Today, I posted on my professional Facebook page about physical well-being and how that benefits psychological health.  Here is the excerpt from my Facebook page: Dean’s Facebook Page

In my role as a psychotherapist, I highlight the merits of physical activity and physical well-being in relation to maintaining positive mental-health.  There is much research that evidences how regular exercise, healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle improve cognitive function and increase the ‘happy’ chemicals produced in the brain.

Today, I am going to begin improving my own physical well-being.  I recently joined a local gym and leisure centre and today will be my first visit.  I will be seeing a Personal Trainer for the first of three induction sessions; each one hour long.  This will be the first time I’ve worked out in a gym since 1988; that’s 30 years ago!! As you may imagine, I’m therefore a little apprehensive.  

New situations and activities can trigger a little anxiety, even in we psychotherapists!  We are regular people, too, and so we know how apprehension and anxiety feel.  The key is to just do it anyway.    Do you know that, physiologically, symptoms of anxiety are the same as symptoms of excitement? The main difference between the two is psychological; the thoughts we have.  So, change anxious thoughts to excitement thoughts and start the process of feeling more positive. This will reduce apprehension and anxiety. 

What can you do to bring more physical activity, with its many benefits to your mental health, into your life?

(C) Dean Parsons. May 2018.

 

« Older Entries