As part of the Parkinson’s Path, Lianna Marie asks “How do we find happiness?” A large part of happiness is under our control. We have to choose to be happy. Not to say that life will be joyful every day with Parkinson’s, but let’s define what happiness would look like – is it having a productive life, staying connected with my loved ones, stay in my job longer?
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
The following Parkinson’s Path podcast is provided by Lianna Marie with All About Parkinson’s and Answers for Elders Radio. And welcome everyone back to Answers for Elders Radio and I am here with me Anna Marie from all about Parkinson’s and we are in the middle of a wonderful podcast series that she has been gracious enough to provide our listeners, and we’re really excited to talk about today’s topic, which is how do you be happy and when you’ve been diagnosed like that? I think, Lianna, thank you for sharing that, and you know, how do we find that joy? Well, thank you. It’s great to be here, Suzanne. And how do you be happy? Well, specifically, how can you be happy with Parkinson’s? And is it even possible, which the short answer is yes actually, though many people might argue with me as if I don’t expand on that answer. It’s not to say that life is going to be joyful every day, but we have a huge choice. And first of all let’s define what happiness is to you, because I think what it is to me is going to be different for you, and so to start with that, just to just to take some moments to think about what what would what would happens look like for me in general and now that I have Parkinson’s. Well, as we mentioned, we talked about in a previous podcast. is talking about having a productive life. Was that what brings me happiness? Could staying connected with my loved ones? What are some things that bring me the ultimate happiness that I’m not after? Is it to stay in my job as long as possible so I can keep making money on those are the first things that we have to define and say, okay, what’s bringing me happiness today? What are some of the things that might change and how can I redefine my happiness as I have Parkinson’s? And the biggest key is to say I’m going to take responsibility for that right. So and they you know, the number one things that research is say is a large part of happiness is up to us. It’s not. It’s not up to you, it’s us. It’s under our control, it’s our choice and under our control, and I’ll know, one outside of ourselves can make us happy correct. We have to choose to be happy and if you can’t get in that mindset, you’re going to have a tough time down the road if you just are always, and I talked about being in the driver’s seat as opposed to the passenger seat, right, if you’re always a passenger in life on. I mean it sounds Cliche, but really you need to start with that and say I’m going to choose to be happy, I’m going to find the best in whatever, because we can’t, and I we acknowledge that, we can’t choose our circumstances right, we can’t. And if we are dealt a hand to Parkinson’s, that’s our doctor says we’ve got a, you know, ten year prognosis. Maybe. Some who have MSA, are multiple system atrophy, those are that’s a different kind of or a look alike Parkinson’s and they may only have a few years. And those are people that are going to go okay, you know what, I have a smaller prognosis, a shorter time in my life. What am I going to do? I’m going to be you know what am I getting? What’s happiness going to look like for me? And, like I said, it’s going to be different for everyone. But the key is to just say I’m taking control over that and I’m not going to let that doctor right or that other person decide whether or not I can be happy for the next x number of years. Right, and you know when you’re saying that. You know, I remember years that I spent in counseling. And now if you’re not happy, it’s happiness is an inside job. I love no, Bet Ring Hey, no, I love that and it’s really true. It’s like, and I’ve also known that the whole world around you is it just a mirror of your consistent thoughts. So if you’re you know you we have a choice every single day, no matter what we’re dealing with, to have to choose that happiness, and certainly with something like that, there’s a lot of opportunities and a lot of gifts in it as well. Don’t you agree? Oh, I absolutely agree, and it’s, you know, the again, the getting into the mindset that I’m going to take control, I’m am to the best of my ability and going to be in the in the driver’s seat, and living with a chronic illness that that can be challenging, to say the least. Absolutely so. Are we up for the challenge? Are we going to fight back? Are we going to lay down and just let the exactly over before it exactly and that’s the key. Yeah, and so, yeah, that key. That just remind me. Those the keys that were to we’re I was going to mention are where it’s related to staying happy with Parkinson’s, and I think I mentioned this one word in the last podcast, which is resilience. And one of the things that I love that word. I what I love that, yeah, ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult situations. And if you think of just being knocked down and getting back up and knock down agetting back up right over and over and over again, and researches have said that the that resilient people are better able to deal with chronic illnesses, which can in turn then improve your quality of life. So it’s again, I strongly believe in this characteristic being one of the most important things that you can have to fight fight, if you will, the battle of Parkinson’s, if you want to talk call it a battle. That is something that I have to say, I saw in my mom and I’ve seen in many who have managed to live with Parkinson’s for as long as she did, thirty years, and that’s that’s something a test to I I believe, smire her for that. Yeah, so. But yeah, that was one of the key things and I and you know, in the book we talked about a couple of other things that relate to that, and one in terms of how to live happily with chronic illness, and this is something that is weird to say for some people, but being selfless. And I know when you get diagnosed with something you’re just going to turn in wh here. It’s all about me, it’s all about me, and why shouldn’t it be about me? Because I’m the one that’s suffering. You’re not suffering, right. So it’s me, me, me, me, me and again, and there’s nothing wrong with that and being and taking that time to give yourself some grace and say, yeah, I did this. Life is changing and this does suck in some ways, right, and so please give me some attention, because I really want that. But over time I think you will find that the more you can reach out to others in the more you can say, you know what, as crazy as it may sound, but I’m not dead yet, so life’s not over, and what am I going to do and where can I do for others? And that was a huge way my mom was helped emotionally. Was Actually devoting time to help other people with Parkinson’s and dementia. And it’s so interesting, and I’ve told this story before, it’s the fact of an attitude. I even remember my mom when she was in skilled nursing. You know, she had vascular dementia. She was really at that point. But you know, somebody brought her a little native trillion plant that they found out because she loved those little three flowered plant Oh yeah, and so she had it a little Dixie cap and she was watering it every day and helping it grow and and that told me that she chose something to focus on, to be happy and that she wanted to live, and that brought joy to me as her daughter, that there was something that was bringing her joy and right, and I think that’s really important. It’s a huge, important piece. HMM, for sure. I have and that idea of having something outside yourself that the you’re fueled by, and that that also leads into this the idea of connectedness. That which I believe is one of the three keys, one of many keys, I should say, to being happy is having that connectedness, whether it be with your family, close friends. It’s, I believe, essential so that you don’t feel alone in this battle and you really don’t have to be alone. I mean that’s your choice. If you’re feeling alone, you need to reach out, you need to talk to people, whether again, if it’s initially after your diagnosis and you’re you’re not sure about how you’re feeling. I mean I think it was. What, how many years was it before Michael J told anyone? Ten years as not quite, but it so, and that’s not on common. Now a lot of people have waited to let her now, in his case, because he’s in a but he’s a public figure. But I would say that it’s something that can be a detriment to you if you aren’t right proactive in reaching out to people and staying connected throughout your journey, and you know some people you might find, and this was in my mom’s case, she lost some friends and that was because they couldn’t handle they couldn’t handle it, and that’s that’s not uncommon. So we are talking again to Lianna Marie, and Lianna, you are with all about Parkinson’Scom and we are talking again about being happy. How do you find that happiness with Parkinson’s and you’re working on a new book, you’re talking about the enemies of happiness, and I kind of want to talk about that. How do you avoid those? Yeah, well, I mean these are going to creep up in any, any part of your life, probably at some point in your journey in life, and that’s the buzz word for the last how many years is we talked about stressed invading our lives and stress in general. We know everyone knows it’s bad for your health, but what people might not know if they are early on in their diagnosis, is how much stressed can immediately affect your symptoms and how we need to avoid it as much as possible because it is an absolute enemy for for Parkinson’s and there for your happiness. You know, I could easily be standing next to my mom and she’s got a small tremor in her left arm and you say, mom, we gotta go now, we’re going to that, I need to get ready it, we need to go, and she you watch that arm and all of a sudden it’s sway and all over the place because she’s now stressed out about Oh my gosh, is a deadline. I gotta go, I gotta go, or we give her some news. She’s just been received some news you’ll see immediately her tremor act up, you know, ten times the amount it was before, or she’ll get stuck all of a sudden she can’t walk anymore because we’ve stressed her out. Wow. So we learned that pretty quickly. So it’s helpful for her, but helpful for us to know that to avoid as much as possible stress. So that would be the number one. Another one is anxiety, which is actually common. It’s a common nonmotor symptom of parkinsons stance. So that’s a common symptom of the disease and we can that. We want to obviously avoid anxiety as much as possible. There are some things that there are of drugs that your Parkinson’s the neurologist or the doctor can prescribe to help through that. And again that is something that it can be really uncontrollable for some people and my mom was already that kind of person before she got Parkinson’s so it just was just extreme afterwards. So we really needed to work with her on that and addressed each individual fear that she had. And then finally anger, which of course you’re going to be angry if you’re diagnosed. I would think most people might be angry about it at some point in the time. So that’s another enemy. And but we talked about well, why not let yourself be angry? What’s your alloted to be angry and then? But not, don’t stay in there, don’t stay in that state, and to move on and get some counseling, talk to people, even it’s just one person. And finally, so stress, anxiety, anger, depression, all these things can be talked with your doctor or in terms of getting medications to help with them. Huge prescription of is exercise, exercise, exercise. We talked about that, moving around as much as you can, and and that’s those are some things that we will we can talk about more on another day. But remember you’re not a passenger, you’re the driver. Yes, yes, and for every minute you’re unhappy you lose sixty seconds of happiness. There you get home, you go. Lianna, thanks so much for being on the show today. You’re welcome. The preceding Parkinson’s Path podcast is provided by Lianna Marie with All About Parkinson’s and Answers for Elders Radio. To learn more about Lianna’s story, her books, the Parkinson’s Wall of Honor and more, go to www.allaboutparkinsons.com.
Suzanne Newman, host of the Answers for Elders radio show and podcast, proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne embarked on a 6-year-journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. Answers for Elders provides education, help, and support to families, caregivers, and seniors across the country who are experiencing their own unique journey within the complicated world of Eldercare. Each week, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including health & wellness, life changes, living options, money, law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.