Woman to Woman Parkinson’s initiative : by Maria De Leon

A few days ago, I wrote about the new women and Parkinson’s initiative and our goal to empower every woman living with pd to be more than the broken pieces left behind by a cruel and often devastating illness. as a Parkinson’s specialist I often found women to be the most affected by this illness whether they were the patient or the spouse. Some how we always seem to bear the brunt and full force of the illness which can weigh us down over time if we don’t have proper resources and support( severely lacking in many parts of the country and world) Therein lies the biggest difference between men’s PD and women’s PD, in general, men have much better support financially, emotionally, and physically. While women often find themselves not only struggling with negative symptoms such as depression and anxiety but often have to go at it alone. Given the enormous pressure on the shoulders of a single individual who may also be a single mom and sole provider, sometimes it is just easier to hide behind a mask, in this case PD, and lose yourself.

One of our biggest focus in this initiative for women with PD should be as  mentors. This unique privilege bestowed upon us at this conference encompasses all the roles I previously detailed in my last blog -becoming advocates, role models, resource women, and excellent listeners. 

We must Never Forget and Always Remember that we are women and human beings first and foremost then Parkinson’s patients!

Because Parkinson’s is often referred to as a “public disease” the physical manifestations like tremors and masked fancies can exert an even more devastating effect on women’s self esteem. this is Unfortunately due to fact that people are frequently perceived and labeled by their public appearance. Looking depressed and being depressed can worsen this misperceptions of being less than causing further isolation especially as disease advances. but, if we have someone guiding us, lifting us up, and catching us when we fall we too can walk proud, head held high in our best attire even if we are shaking up a storm!

Therefore, it is our job and duty to lift one another up offering practical help when feasible like accompanying her to doctor, take grocery shopping if she is not able to, provide phone numbers to community resources, baby sit, pick up kids from school, and so on.

Always be an encourager. You may be the first person who has ever shown any confidence in them as a woman and a person of value.

Be a counselor with her best interest at heart. Start by being a good listener. Don’t be afraid to nurture emotionally and spiritually. Before healing can take place on the outside it must begin on the inside- remember this!

Most impostant of all be a guide. You have been where they have not been yet so model so they too can follow the path. They need to be able to follow how to fail as much as how to succeed and still stand with dignity in one piece and stronger than before the storm.  Hold them accountable as you would yourself.

Doing these things no not only will give meaning to your own life with PD (releasing beaucoup serotonin) from your brain but it will also do the same for her; thus warding off depression. See serotonin is what gives us sense of accomplishment and self importance and worth so it’s a mutually beneficial endeavor.

together we can unrevel our inner gifts and find our true inner beauty and help us  leave the mask of PD behind.

The saddest thing for me would be for us to live a life with PD (or otherwise) as if it were a masquerade ball but upon leaving no one would ever know who we were.

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