It is strange to me that I have spent my life resisting a lot of group activities and yet I find myself embracing groups since my diagnosis. While I have over the years joined a gym and attended from time to time, gym classes left me cold. When I have tried to join in gym classes, I have felt like the odd one out, the older one or the uncoordinated one. However, I feel a subtle change with all things Parkies related.
I have been going to an exercise class on a Friday held at my local Parkinson’s Society. For the first time ever, I feel part of something where I connect with the people there through our shared experience. I like the fact that others are seeming to be as challenged as I am, but all striving to do our best to get the best out of each session. We laugh and encourage, we stretch ourselves and we do our best. We don’t compare or judge and I think we all help each other to get the most out of our sessions.
Tonight I joined a newly formed support group for people who have been diagnosed younger and newly diagnosed. For a group of strangers – supported by professionals – it felt comfortable and safe. It felt like a place where I could talk about my journey with Parkies and know that I would be understood. It felt good to hear others share their stories and to share my own. It felt good to know that we had similarities and differences and an understanding of each other’s challenges. It felt good to be able to share humour with each other. At times our emotions were bubbling just below the surface, in a shaky voice here or there, but we all identified that Parkies makes us more emotional beings and acknowledging that felt OK.
There is nothing like a shared experience to bond people and I know I came away wanting to meet with these people again and to share my journey with them. To share our stories and support each other.
There really is strength in numbers!