As I know more people in the Parkinsons community I am starting to realize how deep this disease reaches. Its not just about tremors, rigidity, balance. Below the tip of the iceburg there are dozens of non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. And intertwined with these often unseen challenging symptoms are mental health concerns. Some of these emotional issues come with the disease and others come because of the disease. Those that come “with” the disease can be attributed to the lack of dopamine in the substantia nigra, the part of the brain responsible for movement and also rewards. Those emotional issues developed because of the disease occur in more people than we think. The disease changes the way we move, think and speak. This effects relationships with family members, friends, professionals and caregivers. Relationships may break up resulting in financial struggles. Medical bills pile up. There is alot in life that can get messed up,even if you are prudent about taking care of things a long the way.
A crisis may manifest itself in many forms: panic attacks, self harm, suicidal thoughts among the most obvious.
Good communication is essential. Remembering that its not about you, don’t react to what you feel may be an attack. Rather, use active listening which helps your friend feel validated. “Take” the friend’s story and “hold” it so you can feel how it weighs the
person down. Be direct. Ask questions. Don’t worry about saying the right thing. Showing that you care and are concerned and that your shoulder can be leaned upon for support. Reach out to professional help as needed. But also know that your presence in your friends life may be all that is needed to get through this crisis.
There is so much loneliness, anxiety, depression and apathy in this disease.
. Just be present .