Hiding Behind Parkinson’s Disease

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

by Sherri Woodbridge |

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We often try to hide from the world when we feel inadequate, abnormal, or different. It’s a natural defense that can be destructive when it leads to feelings of shame.

Shame is an emotion we would rather avoid. It can come upon us unexpectedly. We tend to associate it with feelings of inadequacy or a poor self-image.

Odd but true

It might seem odd to think a disease would cause you to feel shame. With Parkinson’s disease, our bodies change as they become more rigid. They become more difficult for us to manage and we must rely on help from others. The lack of independence can be humiliating and lead to feelings of shame.

Negative feelings about our appearance or our capabilities affect our expectations. When shame is present, we fear being judged harshly. We feel as if we have breached an unspoken code of conduct for what others view as acceptable behavior in public.

We put pressure on ourselves by believing we have to walk a certain way, talk a certain way, and move a certain way to be normal. For someone with Parkinson’s disease, it might be impossible to live up to the code. It is easy to fall into the trap of feeling worthless and as if we have nothing to offer just because we have Parkinson’s. We can feel small and unimportant, and we may want to disappear.

I was talking to a neighbor one day and my hand began to shake quite a bit. She asked, “What’s the matter with you? Am I making you that nervous?” The way she asked was embarrassing for me. That was the day she found out I had Parkinson’s disease.

Take off the mask

We want to hide because of how our disease makes us feel. Others want to hide from us because of how the abnormalities of others make them feel. It is uncomfortable for both sides. People don’t always know how to approach someone with Parkinson’s disease. They don’t know what to say or how to respond.

Don’t be embarrassed the next time you find yourself in a situation where someone is uncomfortable because of how you walk or talk. Enlighten them about the disease. Take off the mask of fear and shame and let others see you. There’s no reason for you to be ashamed.


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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