By Gary Sharpe, Co-Founder of Out-Thinking Parkinson's.
I cannot stress enough the crucial importance of attending to the mental health aspects of Parkinson's Disease as the necessary first step towards recovery. Nor can I emphasize enough how the overwhelmingly negative informational environment which currently exists around PD represents an almost insurmountable barrier to this. Indeed, my personal experience is that the ill-informed negative stories out there about the disease are highly damaging to the emotional wellbeing of people affected by PD. What we are told by responsible professionals at diagnosis, in particular, has massive - and potentially devastating - long term consequences. Here, I speak from experience.
The very dark outlooks we are typically fed necessarily impact hugely on mindset and emotional states, and can damage our ability to even think about taking responsibility for our own health. I consider that the overly bleak misinformation about PD, particularly when imparted in the early stages of coming to terms with the diagnosis, are a root cause of another form of disease, one which rots healthy minds and healthy relationships. We are told that the disease dampens our emotions. We may be made to fell less complete people, emotionally damaged goods even. We may be labelled, boxed in or felt to be smaller or diminished. These tall tales have, unfortunately, become self-fulfilling prophecies.
So this new section of our website is intended to furnish the emotionally manifest evidence that these stories are, in large part, fairy tales. Our intention is to paint a very different emotional and mental health picture of people affected by Parkinson's. To show that we only ever needed to be given the mental tools to cope. That's all. This is why counseling was so important as the foundation stone of my own recovery - and I will never stop shouting that from the roof-tops.
So let me prove to you that it is possible to feel better than we ever did. Let me show you that I'm much more emotional intelligent now, more in tune with my feelings, more able to channel them in to positive outcomes, than I ever was before my diagnosis - and by a very, very long way. Simply put, let me show that I have matured emotionally and mentally - because of the challenge of PD - and that I continue to evolve apace.
You see, I looked into the Mirror of Parkinson's Disease and stared it full in the face. And I realized it wasn't the looking glass which was dark, but that a shroud had been hung over the mirror's frame. As I reflected, it came to my mind that it wasn't even me who had placed my shroud there. It was put there by ill-informed and misinformed people, through their negativity. People who don't have the disease and can never understand what it means to live with it. But once I had been given the mind tools to see, when I drew the curtain back, I saw only myself looking back at me. I saw myself standing in the light. I saw myself, hurting but whole. I saw that I am not a emotionally damaged person, even though I have Parkinson's Disease.
Poetry in the Face of Parkinson's is a collection of my emotional creativity. It is presented here with one only one aim in mind: so that anyone can judge for themselves whether People with Parkinson's are indeed the emotional cripples we have been labelled, or whether, in fact, we are just as capable, or more so, of being mental healthy and emotionally intelligent.
I have begun by sharing three of my personal favorites, and perhaps three of the more thought provoking poems I've written - precisely to help get your mental juices flowing. However, do come back soon, because this is just the tip of the iceberg of the poetry I've been writing. Poetry which I've been writing as part of my plan of recovery from Parkinson's Disease. Recovery of my Mind, Body and Soul.