Like it or not, anxiety has a way of working its way into Parkinson’s disease. It joins rigidity and tremor as a clinical symptom of Parkinson’s. The inability to set aside a worry can push a strong individual towards self-doubt, questioning if it is time for medication to stop stressing.
I thought I had figured out a simple attitude adjustment to deal with anxiety—I reasoned that there is no use fretting over what you can’t change.
With my move to San Francisco, sensible reason lost the race as anxiety crept up on me for something I absolutely must do nearly daily – drive the freeways.
Navigating busy routes had become the source of my anxiety. My driving was an irritant for other drivers too. A freeway exit off 280 South to 101 South was my chief nightmare. Everyone takes the route at breakneck speed.
It used to be, every time I inched towards other drivers, they would honk at me or tail me, or blink their bright-lights because I was too slow making lane changes. When I clicked my indicator light, my arms froze with rigidity as I clutched the wheel, and held my breath.
In a family of five kids, my youngest brother was 13 when he taught me to drive. He had no fear. Unlike my brother, speed frightens me. Going fast is particularly worrisome when met with the slowness of Parkinson’s disease.
Recently, I’ve done something that has helped me immeasurably, as if I had taken a medication that produced great results. I bought a new car.
I loved my 9-year old car but I felt every bump and pothole that we encountered. I felt I had to hold on to the wheel with all my might just to make sure I had control of the steering.
With my new car, I feel like I have wings on my tires. I’ve got a smooth drive and new confidence in my driving ability. A car aficionado might have suggested I blip the throttle. My car service guy says, “Now you can honk at the other drivers!”