Working as a Listener with 7 Cups has been extremely rewarding for me, as well as eye opening. I am a Listener on a form of online crisis line for anyone who wants to anonymously chat about anything on their mind that is bothering them.
I've spoken to others just as anxious as me. Those that can't believe a boy doesn't want to be with them any longer (and vice-versa). Those that have no money, no food, and are sleeping on someone's couch. I've chatted with the abused, the lonely, the strange, the perverted, the university student who is struggling to meet the expectations of their parents. The dark lonely person who answers in only one word replies to keep me guessing like a game. I've also helped a great deal of people in my short tenure. Here are some of my feedback reviews:
Writing this blog to connect with others who are also lost or suffering on their life's journey was the start of allowing myself the freedom to be vulnerable and honest with myself. I struggled and fought hard against believing what others were showing me with a mirror. Coming to terms with the reality of who I am, owning up to my weaknesses while trying to still celebrate small my successes has been a giant kick in the pants. It has left me stripped down and laid bare for all to see now that my mental emotions are no longer pent up and hidden on the inside. They are in full physical view for all to see. My tremor, my neurologists tell me, are of my own making and not that of Parkinson's or any other "disease." My brain was pushed to the breaking point (as stubborn as I was to get things figured out and done) and I basically broke it. Okay, now what do I do? Where do I go? How do I fix this? In the meantime, its all about healing. My mind, body, spirit, soul. Be kind to myself. Ask others to be kind to me. Try to navigate help from the medical profession to find out how to return to a whole functioning adult human again. First step: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy...... along with sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
Since no one has taken any functional scans of my brain off of meds since 2013, I hope they are right. Beginning to titrate down once again starting today. 2 Carbidopa/levodopa tablets every 6 hours. Every 5 days drop each dose by 1/2 tab. Return to the doctor in 3 weeks. When I get too low I can't walk any longer. Doctor says I can't die from getting off my meds. Do I have any choice but to trust? Going back to Dr. Deeb at Shands Gainesville in 4 days for his final opinion.
In the meantime, I will lean on my colleagues at 7 Cups to help me through. There are hundreds of fellow Listeners who are prepared to lend me an empathetic ear as I go through this final struggle to regain my ability to cope and compose myself. The doctors say I should not tremor once off the meds. Cross your fingers they are right.
Have you ever done something for someone and it ended up being the best present to yourself?
Recently I began volunteering as a Listener with 7 Cups of Tea, a community of thousands dedicated to improving Mental Health around the world, one anonymous chat at a time. On the site you'll find a plethora of resources including a guided "Growth Path" with tasks that make you think, forums, group chats, one-on-one chat sessions with your own Listener that is volunteering to man the chat (available 24 hours / 7 days a week). Make friends around the world. It magic and its free.
7 Cups is perfect for those that feel they need to chat with someone but your resources are tight. I stumbled upon them and was invited to become a Listener. Helping others on their life journey allows me to pay-it-forward while it hones my listening skills. I love it.
Feel free to come try it. All you have to have is the need to chat privately with someone who will lend you an ear. The Listeners have no idea who you are and cannot ID or track where you're from. Here's the link: https://www.7cups.com/19598550. They are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/7CupsOfTea.
To strong mental health!
This morning I write from my bed in Advent Hospital to share great news.
For the first time in years I woke up free of panic and a racing heart. I do not detect pain anywhere on my body and there is no sign of tremor - internal or external. I am completely still. I have not felt this calm in a very long time. It feels odd and exciting at the same time. So with a big smile I jump out of bed and run to show my nurses. I'm standing straight and tall. I am not leaning forward on misshapen toes that have tried to keep me from falling forward for the last year. My hands & feet are not swollen. The nerve pain running under both upper legs is gone.
For seven days now this hospital admission has given me the chance to finally get the rest I was not giving myself. It has also allowed my doctors to begin the process of titrating me off of very high doses of Parkinson's medicines. As you know, I've tried to titrate once before and failed. It was too painful to complete on my own. This time I am doing it the right way; under local doctor supervision along with meds that will take away the all over nerve pain that intensifies as my medicine is reduced plus a stabilizer drug to balance my brain chemicals as I adjust from an overstimulated brain to a normal one that thinks clearly. Soon I will be transferred to in-patient physical rehabilitation to get my body moving again and continue my titration under doctor supervision. My focus is on my core strength and stability, both depleted at the end of this journey. Finally, the hospital has arranged for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to equip me for the road back from thinking of myself as a Parkinson's patient to a completely healthy 55 year old. I'm so excited.
It was one week ago that I broke down and admitted to myself that I had to do something to help myself. I could not bear to stay in pain, tremor, fear and helplessness one more day. I kept thinking to myself, "if I call 911, who is going to take care of everything for me?" I hesitated three times then stopped thinking, let go and made the call. Fast forward 7 days and I’m on the road back to myself. To the years of good health, freedom, love, laughter. Being able to support myself - mentally and physically.
It's been two weeks since I looked in the bathroom mirror at my reflection and said to myself “if this was your friend in the mirror and they looked this bad, wouldn’t you tell her to get help?” I answered: YES. But how? I know now, you don't have to know or have that answer to get help. I just had to let go, let God. In return, the Universe found the perfect hospital and the perfect setting to recover. The nursing staff is filled with moms and grandmothers. People who really know how to care for those that cannot care for themselves. Each one of them a guardian angel who say to with a smile, "I gotcha. Just let go. We are catching your fall. All you have to do is get well again." I did and am eternally grateful for their compassion and love.
It hits me. In all of the conversations I've had about surviving Parkinson's Disease, I never really expected to ever be completely well again. Today I see myself no longer reacting to life's stressors with tremor. I’m going to take back my will from wherever it went and take charge of my life once again. I’m back!! God is so very good.
The past 10 years and 10 months were my 40 day flood. I was at the bottom of the well. Living each day on very high doses of PD meds stripped me of my ability to make the right decisions. I've learned this with the help of my amazing husband who has been trying to deal with my shortcomings that I couldn't see. The constant battle to get me to think correctly, not as my medicated brain wasI was not able to make good decisions Not any longer. My husband rescued me once again. He’s such a good man. He’s giving me support and time to heal even though he’s not feeling well. As soon as I’m out I will pay it forward and watch him heal next. There is no better feeling than waking up actually refreshed, with no aches or pain, tremor long gone and you feel alive and happy. I never ever thought I would see that day again. I want to wake up every day of my life exactly as I did today. It’s really true - - - Never give up and never give in.
We are all so blessed,
CONNECT WITH ME
Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve
"Lisa Chalker is One Face of Early Onset Parkinson's Disease. Come along on her journey from symptoms to diagnosis; through treatments and therapies. There are highs and lows, miracles and heart notes, and the determination to never, ever, ever, ever give up on the power of HOPE."