Are you happier when you are busy? I guess that is a no-brainer for most people. When we are busy, we often forget about what is ailing us. With Parkinson’s, those dopamine rushes that come as a result of doing something successfully certainly make us feel better. That is one of the reasons why video games can be so addictive. They just make us feel better, especially when we win.
Mr. Twitchy, my wonderful neurologist and psychologist keep telling me that I need to cut some things out of my life, but honestly, the busier I am, the better I feel. Yes, I admit that I am more scattered than I used to be. My desk is a perpetual mess. I finish one project and then look for another to fill the void. I like to think that is because executive function in the brain is affected by Parkinson’s. So its not my fault! Really, its not!
So what is Executive Function? According to the ADPA:
Executive function: One can think of the “CEO” (chief executive officer) of a company and the many tasks involved in directing the organization. These activities may include multitasking, solving problems, starting new tasks, and switching tasks. Executive function involves the prefrontal cortex of the brain and the dopamine system, which are affected in PD. Executive dysfunction is one of the most common cognitive changes reported in PD.
Does this sound like you? After living with Parkinson’s for 10 years, I have found that things I took for granted, all mentioned in the above description, are getting more difficult. Multi-tasking is getting harder. I get distracted and forget to complete a task. I am always thinking of new projects, which only gets me deeper in the hole I am digging for myself.
However, there are rewards that come with all of this, and let’s not forget that. Don’t stay home alone, thinking that you can’t do anything. Get out there, continue to live the best life you can, with modifications when necessary, and you will feel better. Start slowly if you need to, its ok. Go to Parkinson’s movement or voice classes where you will find a wonderful welcoming community. Somewhere along this journey, you may find that you are in the best shape you have ever been because of all of the exercise you are doing. You have a community of people with PD who understand what how you feel without even having to ask. You may even have found a new skill that you love – painting, music, writing. And the more you do it, the more you want to keep on doing it because it makes you feel good about yourself.
And then you will end up like me, and countless other people with PD who have found that they are busier than ever before and loving every minute of it. What’s so bad about that?
Speaking of keeping busy, two weeks ago I recorded a podcast with two other women with Parkinson’s for Parkinson’s Life, an online magazine based in the UK, for its Women and Parkinson’s Campaign. Mariette Robijn and Omotola Thomas joined me to talk about being a woman with Parkinson’s. We had a great time talking to each other about our experiences with hormones and PD, children, spouses, doctors who don’t listen to us and more. Click here to listen to Episode 5.