It felt so good to see everyone in person! I’d forgotten the closeness of catching up one-on-one before the meeting begins. Taking the time to welcome someone who is attending for the first time. And that feeling afterward, lingering around the meeting room not quite ready to leave.
At our September 7th Just Us-Share Time meeting, we talked about our fears beginning with the questions: What causes you fear? What are some of the things you fear? How do you handle fear? What practical steps do you take to help alleviate your fears?
Fear of falling is one of our biggest fears, expressed by everyone in the room. Many of us were surprised to discover that we all share this fear. Not so much the act of falling itself as what could happen to us if we did fall. As one of our members put it, “It’s not the fear that will do me in, but the fall might.” Some of us talked about falls we’ve taken, the resultant broken bones, and the required surgeries. We also shared the measures we take to prevent falls as we proceed with caution up and especially down the stairs in our homes: Counting the stairs. Walking slowly. Doing and thinking about nothing else. Not being in a rush or moving too fast. Taking medication as prescribed and on time with the goal of functioning at our best.
Realistic fears: These are mostly related to losing our balance, which can realistically happen to anyone with Parkinson’s at anytime. Some of these fears have materialized for some of us: Being knocked over by a toddler running into your legs or a dog jumping up on you while you are standing. Falling down the stairs. Falling anywhere.
Emotional fears: Being judged. What we perceive our family’s expectations of us to be. Expectations we have of ourselves we won’t be able to fulfill. Not being in control of a situation, which can lead to a panic attack. Something happening to one of our children and being unable to help them. Our children one day getting Parkinson’s. Having the ability to take care of our husbands when they have health issues. How our children will feel about us and how we’ve been as mothers when we’re gone.
Handling fear: Some things that help some of us alleviate our fear when it arises are:
- Pausing to breathe.
- Breathing exercises.
- Prayer and thinking about scripture.
- Listening to music is a great distraction from feeding fear, as are working in your garden, doing minimal task cleaning, and playing games on your iPad or phone.
- Being patient and waiting for someone else to do something for you rather than risk falling or getting hurt. We all know those tasks we should not be doing ourselves!
- Practicing gratitude by writing down or thinking about all the things in your life you are grateful for. One of our members does this when she has trouble sleeping.
- Going for a walk.
Additional thoughts: Knowledge is a great power to help control fear. Read. Attend presentations sponsored by many of the Parkinson’s organizations (most if not all on Zoom). Go to support group meetings, especially ours! Try to deal with the fears you have and the ones you think about by pushing yourself to do things you don’t want to do but may be good for you, such as taking an indoor rock climbing class geared toward people with Parkinson’s.