As a social worker counselling couples and adults through a wide range of problems, Lee Lourdeaux knows and values the impact of a strong support system. With his background in group therapy, he knew that joining a New Diagnosis Parkinson's support group would be a great help in his life.
Lee lives alone with his two cats, and finds joy in reading fiction and listening to classical music. For many people with Parkinson's disease (PD), it can be difficult to cope with their new diagnosis, as it often leads to a reevaluation of their identity.
Many people with PD who live alone, like Lee, may experience isolation. But thanks to his experience in social work, Lee was prepared to adopt healthy coping strategies by maintaining his sense of self, and his hobbies.
"As someone who tries to stay in the present in a non-judgmental way, while staying open to compassion for others, I have to begin with myself," says Lee. His compassion and acceptance for himself guide his approach to helping others.
Knowing nothing about Parkinson's before his diagnosis, Lee sought out information through the internet. This led him to Parkinson Society BC, and our New Diagnosis support group in Vancouver, which he joined immediately. To others thinking about joining their local support group, Lee says,"just do it."
"I find it useful to share various happy, or what I call 'sparkling' moments over the past month," says Lee. Though he describes himself as an extrovert, he says others who may be hesitant to open up about their diagnosis may also find support.
"No one really expects you to talk, so if you don't feel like saying something that feels too personal, it's your right to just hold onto that," says Lee. "Plus, everyone has agreed in advance to confidentiality: what is said in the room stays in the room."
The Society has over 50 support groups across the province, open to people with Parkinson's and their carepartners. No matter where you are along your journey with Parkinson's disease, there is a support group available to you.
"Any positive regular group will improve the quality of your life," says Lee. "These support groups put the brakes on the likely isolation of this chronic, and often – at least in my experience – frustratingly complex disease."
Lee took part in a video produced by Parkinson Society BC about the benefits of our support groups: [watch here].