Focus On: Anticipation

One of the best coping strategies I’ve discovered is anticipation.  Having something to look forward to is the best medicine for the depression often experienced after a diagnosis of a disease like Parkinson’s.  It also works for other causes of sadness and depression, everything from losing your job to losing a loved one.

At first, after receiving life changing news, our inclination is to get home as fast as we can, go to our room,or our snuggery and try to shut out the world, the challenge we must face.and our fear of a future now changed forever.  Slowly we go through the stages of grief, finally arriving at acceptance.  Through this process we  come to realize that we can’t go back, all we can do is go forward.  Not a lot of options here.  But we have a big choice to make.  Do we go forward depressed, dragging through each day, or do we try to live a life filled with  promise and anticipation?

After I spent some time wallowing in self-pity, I decided that if I had to go forward anyway, I might as well make the best of it. So, carefully following my exercise and pill regime, I otherwise pushed the disease to the back of my mind and took that first step forward.

Now here is where anticipation comes  in.  There’s only one way to move forward and find some joy ahead and that is to find things that build anticipation – something to look forward to.  It can be anything from anticipating a trip to the bookstore to buy the latest novel by your favorite writer, to planning a trip or a visit with old friends.  I have done all of these in the five years since my diagnosis and so far I have held my own, managing the disease and  experiencing happiness at the same time.

Just recently I decided to give up driving due to the side effects of my medication.  This was a big decision, but one I felt I had to make.  Talk about a blow to my independence!  But guess what?  A door closed and windows opened, brightening my life in many ways.  My daughter-in-law immediately said not to worry, she and the little ones would be my “wheels”.  And so she has been, taking me to doctor appointments, and as a result, I have had more time to spend with her and my grandchildren.  My husband and I now spend more time with each other – we’re back to grocery shopping together just like we did years ago when we were first married.  I learned about a service my town has for door to door pickups  and drop offs for people with disabilities and I have signed up with them as  a back-up plan. If I decide a trip outside the house is needed, I just give them a 24 hour heads up and I’m good to go.  My friends, too, have offered to give me a lift when needed, and I am grateful to them all.  One important thing I’ve learned is to let people help me.  As much as I appreciate their efforts, they get to feel they are doing something good for someone else – it works both ways.

my mobiles

I have a good friend who also needed to get out more and have some fun, and needed a buddy to share it with.  She has the wheels and I have the time.  We choose a couple of books to read then discuss them over lunch when we get together.  We also take ‘field trips”.  We’ve visited the new wing of our Natural Science museum, we’ve gone to the movies to see Warhorse, and most recently toured an exhibit of the intricate mobiles of Alexander Calder. We learned that the term mobile was coined to give a name to his art..I purchased a book of mobile patterns and have  enjoyed making them with my granddaughter and  by myself, too.  Always something new to learn.  My friend and I share many of the same interests, and we enjoy the conversation and companionship.  I make jewelry and am going to teach her the ropes.  As I said, there’s always something new to learn and I look forward with anticipation to our outings.

A pretty sunset on our way to Alabama

I have a very dear friend (we’ve been friends since 1967) who now lives in Alabama .  She has wanted me to visit for years, but time and distance always seemed to intervene. Until I got my wake up call and decided I’d better get out there and visit her while I was still relatively mobile.  So we have spent the last two Labor Day Weekends visiting her in Alabama, and this year she is coming out to visit us the week of the fourth of July.

Anticipating a trip is always a lot of fun.  My husband and I go up north to visit his family a few times each year, and often we will combine that with a visit to a favorite resort in the mountains, often meeting our friends there.  We always have a great time with this couple, and despite the distances that separate us, we manage to connect whenever we can. As we get older, these tried and true friendships mean a lot.  They are the people who share our past, back when we were young and raising our children, and now we have pictures and stories of our grandchildren to share..  We love sharing memories, but enjoy making new ones. And  so we are anticipating our biggest adventure together  – a cruise to Alaska– only a little over a month to go. We’ve got our passports (for stops in Canada) and if we can figure out how to get that kitchen sink packed, we’ll be all set! We usually travel in a Honda Odyssey, packed to the max.  Meeting the packing requirements for air travel is going to be tough!

But before we embark in Alaska, we have family visiting in June and my friend from Alabama in July.   So much to look forward to in the next few months! So much to add sparkle to my days and joy to my years.  Try a little anticipation – it’s good for the soul.

                 I was cruising right along
                 when this rocky path appeared
                 and I have been its prisoner now
                 for nearly five long years
                 and still it leads me onward
                 toward a future tinged with fear
                 but despite this situation
                 I have no time for tears;
                 each day, despite the path we take,
                 is a precious gift to be treasured
                  and I for one intend to make
                 the best of it I can.
                 so moment by moment
                 mindfully
                 I take a step most carefully
                 along this steep and rocky road
                 trying not to stumble
                 I strive to reach the end
                 where from that weary load I’m free
                 I look to hope, my heart is certain
                  a brighter future waits for me
                 – pc 2012  

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