April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness month and I’ve decided to mark it this year with a look back at some of my blog postings. I have over 100 postings since I began this new blog almost 4 years ago. I’ve been reviewing some of the statistics on visits to my blog, and I’m ready to shake out some of the results! Each week, I’ll reprint two posts – one selected from the most popular on line, and one from the least popular, based on number of visits. What makes one posting soar like an eagle, while another sinks like a stone? What makes one post come out smelling like a rose while another is an outright stinker? I’d be curious to get your thoughts! So without further adieu, here’s this weeks eagle or rose, followed by the stinker or stone.
In second place, from August 2015, with an exploration of the “Parkinson’s mask” and one Australian photographer who has used this as a creative starting off point.
The Parkinson’s mask.
The stone face. Robbed of emotion. A blank stare. This is what we call “the Parkinson’s mask”. It is one of the maddening characteristics of Parkinson’s Disease. I’ve written about this before (see Keep your Requip, give me Photoshop! for example) but not too long ago I came across the work of an artist that I found profoundly captured the essence of this condition. Chris Crossley is a portrait and art photographer based in Victoria, Australia. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1997.
In an exhibit entitled “Concrete” (showing presently at Ballarat International Foto Biennale in Australia), Crossley uses an interesting technique where subjects, none of whom have Parkinson’s, were asked to dunk their faces in water and, as they rose, have them try to express a mood or emotion. In part, the aim was to, in Crossley’s words, “give the ‘normal’ person being photographed a small feeling of what the loss of control was like, even for a couple of seconds, and for me to capture it”.
Crossley has, in my mind, done a superb job of capturing this. I find the images to be haunting and eerily familiar. I could certainly write more about living with this mask (and probably will 🙂 ) but I don’t think I could possibly capture it the way Crossley has. I’ve included a few more images below.
Forget your troubles, come on get happy. Gotta chase all the blues away.
Always walk on the sunny side of the street.
You got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.
Don’t worry, be happy.
Just put on a happy face.
In the last few years, I’ve spent more time in on-line support groups for people with Parkinson’s. I’m not sure if my observations hold true for others with a chronic disease but I suspect they do. While the daily “rabble” may vary, there are certain consistencies – the motivational poster of the day, the prayer to a higher power, the pharmaceutical query and the ailment-of-the-day.
From time to time, there is a person who expresses despair or lashes out at their circumstances and this wicked condition called Parkinson’s. Yet, without a doubt, the overall emphasis or tone that is struck is to “be positive”. Don’t dwell on the negative. Seize the moment. Be active. Get outside. Come on, get happy!!
I can understand that. I realize that it’s important to our mental health to be positive. I get it.
But some days I don’t.
Some days I want to be angry. Some days I want to rail out against PD. Some days I wonder how I’m going to continue. Some days I can’t see my way past the pain. I don’t want to “get happy” – to placate my condition or my feelings of hurt. I don’t want to wallow in self-pity but I do need to acknowledge these feelings – even if I have no solution or resolution at hand.
So some days I do.