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May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Your mental health matters! Part II

Written by: Pam Monjar, LPC-MHSP, NCC, CGP

In this Part 2 of a four-part series. We examine Parkinson’s through the lens of grief.

As a grief therapist, I am inviting you to honor your overall well-being by asking yourself: Am I carrying grief? Grief can manifest with symptoms such as depression, anger, panic attacks, anxiety, fear, sadness, guilt, and regret (just to name a few). What are you feeling in this moment? How are you feeling in this moment? How is grief manifesting in your life? Where do you feel grief in your body? What is anxiety telling you?

Part two – Anxiety

One symptom of grief is anxiety. Anxiety can appear in different forms at any point during the grieving process of a Parkinson’s diagnosis. Entering into relationship with Parkinson’s may feel like being thrusted into a new and uncertain world. There may even be a realization of how uncontrollable and

unpredictable life and the world can be.

Anxiety is often a companion of grief and may cause a variety of challenging thoughts, emotions, feelings, behaviors, and physiological symptoms. Anxious thoughts begin to look for answers to a deeply felt sense of the unknown. The causes of anxiety are often intrusive thoughts of trying to predict the future (future-oriented). Our brain begins to run all the worst-case scenarios of “What IFs?” and if our brain does not have the answer – it makes one up.

Agitation, restlessness, difficulty talking about grief, anxiety about anxiety, and difficulty talking about anxiety are all common expressions of anxiety. Creating a plan to cope, befriending anxiety, and turning towards any manifestation of anxiety has the potential to modify actions towards self-care. How is anxiety informing you today?

Questions to ask yourself about anxiety:

When do I feel anxious?

How does anxiety manifest in my body?

What triggers my anxiety?

What thoughts am I having when I feel anxious?

Positive self-talk can offer an antidote to intrusive, negative, or catastrophizing thoughts. Check-in with your mind, body, and soul. What thoughts need to be tended to?

Invitation: Take a deep breath. When feeling anxious, what positive statement can be created that you will be comfortable repeating over and over and over again? Here are a few examples: I can do hard things. These are just thoughts, not facts. I am supported.

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