A friend of mine whom lives with Parkinson’s Disease and has a family member whom has lived with depression for the majority of his life, expressed these words in a message she sent me upon reading the “Looking Over The Edge” post. She went on to share the struggles and the heartache that this hidden disease has caused the family.
I took these words that she wrote as a high compliment because the way I have lived my life, and shared as a person living with Parkinson’s Disease, dealing with depression, and the unfortunate suicidal periods, has been in the public arena and there is nothing “less than” in who I am and what I do. To say that what I wrote is a giant blow against the stigma gives me hope that some, or many, will realize the seriousness of this hidden illness that impacts more people than we will ever know.
Why did I share publicly? Depression is a reality.
What were my intentions? Depression does not discriminate.
Who is impacted by what I wrote? Any, and all, who feel isolated and can find hope and peace, knowing that they are not alone in their struggles.
Just as it was with my Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis, the fact that I deal with depression is part of who I am. I’m not waiting for “the other shoe to drop”. It dropped a long time ago and I deal with these conditions the best way that I can.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived and believed deeply in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.
In all that I’ve encountered as part of my health history, my advocacy work that has taken me many places and allowed me to meet many amazing people, inferiority has never played a part in what I say and do to speak out on behalf of our family of persons living with Parkinson’s Disease and depression.
Does my dealing with, accepting, and acknowledging that Parkinson’s Disease and depression are part and parcel of my life make me less of a man, a person, a husband, a father, a teacher…?
Absolutely, unequivocally not, AND it shouldn’t make anyone else living with these and other “un-see-able” illnesses feel that same way either. I have a resolve that transcends all that I’ve experienced because, after all, I’ve taken the journey, looked over the edge, and through much prayer, support, encouragement, and the love of my babies, Harper Grace and Landon Blake, I’ve taken a step back, sought the help that allowed me to get my medication regimen to take effect again, and I’m still here.
To be considered “less than” is never acceptable. I was raised to help others along the way, to the extent that I can. If my voice is what will resonate to make a difference, then I will use it for that effect.
The stigma of Parkinson’s Disease and depression go hand in hand because there is a certain way that society feels that we should look, a certain way that we should act, a certain reaction we should have when encountered with the difficulties that these conditions bring on.
I am humbled by the e-mails, calls, private messages, and texts that I have received as a result of the “Looking Over The Edge” post and people sharing their experiences with depression. I ask for your prayers for all of these and for me. I also ask that you join me on this journey to make a difference in the world of those whom have been made to feel “less than”.