Webster defines Hope as “to desire with expectation of fulfillment.” It is more than dreaming; it is possessing within ourselves an expectation that someday a desire, wish, dream, or expectation will become a reality. Hope always looks to the future making our dismal todays bearable for a brighter, happier tomorrow…..without hope inevitably we die as something inside of us dies!
Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking at New Braunfels along with my friend Israel at the 7th PD symposium held by the wonderful people of Lone star Parkinson’s Society. My topic was depression and although the talk was very engaging I always feel there is never enough time to cover all aspects of such a complex problem.
Since, then I have been thinking a lot about this topic and apparently so has my friend because he has written two wonderful blogs on the subject which have gotten a lot of sympathy while acknowledging the existence of a huge dilemma which is often poorly understood and often overlooked and infrequently talked about in the open within our community.
Israel poignantly and openly discussed his own personal battle with depression in “Looking over the edge” then discussed more in general the heartaches and struggles many of us have face in society and within our own families in “A Giant blow against the stigma that someone with depression is ‘less than’ in our culture” which can be magnified depending on our own culture especially if you are Hispanic like him and I were asking or admitting for help in the mental department can be construed as a sign of weakness and almost taboo! I also discussed my own personal battle with depression and looking into the abyss in my book the “Parkinson’s Diva.”
In the past and in my talks I often discussed things to do to prevent but other than in my book I have not much discussed in detail the 3 main reasons I feel we tend to become depressed. If we understand these basic reasons I believe all the other treatments can be secondary and we will be more likely to be free to discuss with one another our problems breaking down barriers and will be kinder to our own selves!
First look at the warning signs of depression:
Do NOT wait until you are suicidal!!!! This usually does not happen overnight!!
Before suicidal thoughts occur people experience the following:
- Withdrawal- are you suddenly losing interest in social activities thing you like to do -e.g. going to movies, meeting friends, dancing, reading, painting, exercising, going out with friends, dressing up, is your color palette changed? are you wearing darker colors all greys? and is NOT because that’s the NEW style of the season!! This includes lack of intimacy/affection. Becomes a couch potato!
- Lack of hygiene– not grooming- wearing same clothes for days, not showering, staying in p.j.’s all day!! or sweat pants all day and not because that’s all you have.
- Change in eating habits
- Change in sleep habits
- Mood changes- irritable, aggressive, forgetful, tearful, sad, -cries at drop of hat even though sys they are not sad or depressed!!!!!
So when you start noticing these symptoms in yourself/or spouse/care-partner/caregiver points out these issues- first thing you MUST do IS OWN the FEELINGS!!! WITHOUT BLAME – WITHOUT GUILT -THEY ARE PART OF BEING HUMAN!!!!!!
ONLY then can you begin to find the ROOT of problem and find healing-
USUALLY 3 Main Reasons:
1) In Parkinson’s disease as in any other chronic neurodegenerative disease which alters the chemical balance of the brain – depression is a big component particularly when we begin to introduce foreign substances to replace the brain’s natural chemistry. Such actions may have dubious and detrimental results as it did me when I took combination of Topamax and Amantadine each potentiated and magnified each others effect; thus, making me suicidal! Always and foremost when you feel yourself slipping before you are at the edge be honest with yourself ..
talk to your physician ASAP! Review your medications!
2) Fatigue/exhaustion is the second common cause of Depression which can lead us to make poor decisions at times nearly costing us our lives. First of all PD can have intrinsic fatigue compounded by loss of vitamin B12 and D which worsens fatigue. If you are like me you don’t want to let PD have the better of you and you toil to regain the life that you once had but that is impossible!! the sooner you accept that and let go of the past and make new goals and live a new life within the compounds and framework of the new talents and skills learned and acquired via living with Parkinson’s the happier you will be. Remember life still goes on – there is a whole world out there outside of PD and it won’t stop because we have PD. We have to learn to prioritize our time and energy and listen to our own bodies and not say YES to EVERYTHING even if it has to do with PD causes!! Even Jesus said NO! He knew how to replenish HIS energy and HE is GOD!; Don’t you think we need to listen to our own bodies? WE need to rest at times so that we can make the right decisions, think with clarity, don’t feel like the weight of the world is against us and more importantly don’t begin to feel overwhelmed to the point of losing hope because we can bear another day of struggle. ‘Let’s not over extend ourselves and ignore that soft quiet, inner voice begging for rest.’ [Parkinson’s Diva]
3) In the end the most important reason, all of us get to the edge of that abyss is because at some point there is a faltering of HOPE!! The substance of Faith which propels all of us to move forward despite adversity against all odds is that deep feel that in the end things WILL work out!!! As Plato once quipped, “one cannot heal a body without first healing the soul.” Healing always comes from within and in all my years of practice, illness is truly a disease of the soul. it is how we perceive it, how we feel it how we deal with it- what we expect of it that truly makes one person be cured or live better than another with the exact same illness! sometimes we want to fill our void with things which don’t satisfy. Sometimes, we lose someone we love and that devastate us- but we should think if that love one would want us to give up and/or be sad?
Today, I say to you who are lonely, sad and depressed. You are not alone and there is no shame to feeling this way. It is perfectly Human !
REPEAT AFTER ME:
THERE IS NO NORMAL
& WE SHOULD NOT FEEL ANTHING OTHER THAN WHAT we feel- own up to your own feelings good or bad and move forward!
We have all felt sadness; but if your symptoms are lasting over 2 weeks and not getting better and especially if having thoughts or wishing to DIE- need to talk to your doctor ASAP!
Finally, ask yourself is this because of medications? or family history ? or have I been putting myself out there so much taking care of everyone else’s needs I have neglected to take care of my own self? Perhaps you simply have lost your way and lost Hope and find no reason for going on one more day! But I want to remind you that it is always darkest right before dawn so hang on just a bit more and light will come and things will change find a new reason for living take one hour at a time. Remind yourself how far you have come- how much you have accomplished to just give up and quit. Say to yourself, I have made it till today I can go one more hour and reach out to a friend -do not isolate yourself! Write down all the good things you have in your life when you feel despair.
If we dare to be free- we are going to have to exercise some courage and hold on to HOPE. We can live without food for a few weeks, days without water, 5 minutes without oxygen, but we CANNOT LIVE A SIGLE SECOND WITHOUT HOPE!!!
‘You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.’ JOB 11:18 international version