An Introduction to ‘Slow Is the New Fast’: How Did I Get Here?

An Introduction to ‘Slow Is the New Fast’: How Did I Get Here?

I am not a writer.

A little history

In 2010, I retired from a 37-year career in the information technology industry. For many years, I relied on the analytical side of my brain. While in retirement, I decided the time was right to exercise the more visual and perceptual side of my brain. Graphic design was a natural next step for me, so I began to do the creative work for the event business of my life partner, Steve.

Graphic design seemed to make sense, but I never envisioned myself as a creative writer after I retired from my computer career. My writing experience primarily consisted of developing contractual documents related to phone-system deployments.

A turning point

When Steve took his own life on March 15, 2015, my world changed dramatically. We were together for over 33 years. I took solace in writing about Steve and found purpose in trying to bring more awareness to suicide by telling Steve’s story.

About six months before Steve took his own life, he was suffering from a panic attack in our living room. Seeing someone you love in such a state is devastating. I remember helplessly dropping to the floor while my body was wracked with sobs. Steve was in so much mental pain and our relationship and “fairy tale” life was falling apart. I clearly remember feeling something “snap” in the back of my head. It was not pain, but I recalled thinking to myself that this was an ominous occurrence that would impact my long-term health. I did not think about that moment again until I received my PD diagnosis seven months after Steve died. More than one neurologist has told me emotional trauma I suffered before and after Steve passed might have triggered the onset of my PD.

Why do I write?

While blogging about suicide and grieving, I have been encouraged by many to continue writing. Comments left on my blogs indicated that many no longer feel alone in what they felt after they have read my stories.

Now that I have PD, I hope to be a voice for people afflicted with this disease. One of my other goals will be to help others better understand what one who has the illness struggles with on a daily basis. While I will continue to write about Steve and suicide-related topics, I will now also share my PD journey in this column.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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At the age of 62, I started writing to inspire conversation about mental illness and suicide after my life partner, Steve Tarpinian, took his own life in 2015. Seven months after Steve passed, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Now, in addition to Steve's story, I am telling my own.

3 comments

  1. Terry Pollock says:

    Dear Jean,
    I was diagnosed with PD about a year ago. It explains a lot about my past health problems, the cause of which seemed to mystify a long list of specialists over the last 23 years.
    Finally, my family doctor recognized my strange gait after asking me to walk down the hallway and back. He referred me to a neurologist who confirmed that I have PD. It was almost a relief to finally have a diagnosis after all this time. But then, I realized that this is going to be a real challenge for me and my whole family. It is scary. But I am very fortunate in that my husband is so understanding and helpful with this disease that is robbing me of energy and strength, not to mention memory.
    I can barely sign my name, but I can still read books, which is a passion of mine. My animals are also my lifetime love, and I do my best to continue to take care of them myself. Grandchildren are the big loves of my life, so I do my best to spend time with them, though it tires me pretty quickly. I want them to have good memories of me.
    Yes, slow is the new fast, but at least I am able to keep going for now!
    Thanks for your insight. It touched me….
    Terry Pollock

    • Jean Mellano says:

      Hi Terry, I am sorry to hear your diagnosis, but happy to hear you have a good support system. My future columns will talk about my symptoms, and both my alternative and standard approaches to combat this disease. If you google (jean mellano blog) you will see my blog where i have a bunch of things written about my PD journey. These articles will be different than what I post here. Thank you for your comment and for taking the time to rad my story.

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