Originally published August 14, 2014
I haven’t posted anything to this blog in sometime for a variety of reasons. However, today’s news that comedian and actor Robin Williams had been dealing with depression and Parkinson’s brought me back to this piece. Ironically, the last time I worked on this draft was one year ago. I had abandoned it as not being satisfactory. Now though, perhaps to help move forward, I’ve decided to post it as i wrote it then.The water is a little deeper now and a little more clouded but hopefully I’ll be able to “towel-off” and get back to it.
All the literature on dealing with disease emphasizes the importance of a positive attitude in coping with your condition. Read published memoirs or speak to most “seasoned” veterans of PD, and you’ll no doubt hear a testimony to staying positive.
To date, this hasn’t been a problem for me. Fortunately, for the most part, I have been able to keep my head above water despite the rising current of physical challenges, adjusting treatments and the general demands of daily activities. I have tried to keep my PD in perspective – my illness shouldn’t define me. And it hasn’t. I have tried to live more for the moment and to appreciate that there are many others who face significantly greater challenges, with far less support and/or resources, than I.
And all of this is still true. I still try to keep this perspective. Yet, of late, I must admit I’ve been flailing.
Perhaps it’s because for the first time I’m feeling “old”. My travels in Europe made me acutely aware of the physical limitations I face. I feel the weight of lugging a pump for the enteral delivery of my medication. My children are becoming increasingly independent and, since leaving teaching, I have been unable to find my niche in the community. I want to be able to carve out a role for myself – to feel that I am making a contribution to my community – to have more of a sense of purpose to my day.
Yet more and more, I’m feeling exceptionally tired and challenged by the activities of daily living. I’m struggling with my roles; with a discouraging sense of self. My motivation to accomplish things all too often seems to be waning. I want to address these personal issues yet, the more that I reflect on this ‘self’, the deeper I wade into an ego-centric whirlpool.
So, I guess I’m in pretty deep.
And despite my aquatic prowess, gained from many summers in Georgian Bay, I’m not sure I know how to get out of this.
I am, however, not without resources. I have a good health care team, that includes a Psychiatrist with whom I am regularly consulting. I have the support of all my family and a network of friends that are extremely important. And I still have the desire to see things improve. I am reminded of lines in Loundon Wainwright III Swimming Song: This summer I went swimming. This summer I might have drowned. But I held my breath and I kicked my feet. And I moved my arms around. I moved my arms around.
Hold my breath. Kick my feet. Move my arms around.