By Candace Schoner
Whenever I experience a significant bumpy patch in my life, I feel the need to write about it as a form of therapy. I have used writing as a way to express myself since I first learned how to read. This was the norm for me growing up in a household where silence was rewarded, tears were unforgivable, and secrets were kept locked up tighter than Fort Knox.
Yesterday, after 7 years of fighting memory problems, double vision, and body tremors, I was diagnosed with early Parkinson’s. Part of me is relieved knowing that I am not crazy. I knew something was wrong with me.
Have you ever asked yourself, “would I want to know if I have a life threatening illness or not.” I have, and my answer has always been an emphatic “no,” until now.
With my new diagnosis, I realize you can’t fight a disease if you don’t know you have it. For me, this is a metaphor for life – whether it’s dealing with a relationship, working, or money problems. Ignoring any of these things won’t change them.
Is it more fun to go through life with rose colored glasses? Probably. But what happens when you take those glasses off and see the “truth?” It is a game changer.
I remember the first time I admitted to myself that I was gay. I was 40 years old and already married for 16 years. My husband, our family and friends were shocked when I shared my revelation.
We all hide parts of ourselves that we fear others may not like or understand.
In my case, I guess I always wondered about my sexual orientation ever since having a crush on Susan Dey from The Patridge Family. Plus, I had know idea how to be gay and whether it was safe to come out.
At first, I told acquaintances, then friends and coworkers. Eventually I told members of my family, individually. It was a difficult process that took months but it was worth it. Ever since owning my truth, it’s been like a massive weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I feel free to live my life as I see fit.
Now that I have come face to face with my Parkinson’s diagnosis, I’m ready to accept what comes next. I am nothing if not tenacious. I plan to take my medicine regularly, exercise often, and still enjoy time with friends. I don’t have all the answers yet. I just know that I have to deal with the cards that I have been dealt. Even if some days I only have a pair of deuces, I know there will be better cards to come.
Candace Schoner is a freelance writer and mental health advocate living in Charlottesville, Virginia.