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Mental Health Awareness Month - Anxiety

Betsy Lerner, MedFit - Parkinson's Fitness Specialist Certification, MA in Liberal Studies and English/African American Literature

In keeping with our topic for May, Mental Health Awareness Month, let's talk about anxiety.

Anxiety comes in all shapes and sizes. Out of the blue, you feel like you're having a heart attack, you break out into a sweat, you can't catch your breath, your arms and legs get tingly, you feel disconnected, you think you're going to pass out, or even worse, die.

With full transparency, I've suffered from anxiety since I was a teenager, from age 15 well into my 60's. Speaking from experience, you will NOT die from anxiety (even though it may feel like it.) I repeat, you will not die from anxiety.

For those of us who have experienced anxiety, which can be a non-motor Parkinson's symptom, it is scary and at times, debilitating.

My mom stood with me through my struggles with anxiety assuring me I wasn’t going to die, likening anxiety to the ebb and flow of ocean waves. She would encourage me to breathe and go with flow, letting the anxiety leave my body. While I don’t have a concrete remedy to the intangible emotion that is anxiety, the next time you find yourself paralyzed by unexplained fear, I want you to try the following:

In counts of 4: inhale, hold, exhale, pause, repeat until you feel the smooth ocean waves wash over you and you’re at peace.

In closing, please see a doctor, someone who specializes in psychiatric issues and has keen knowledge of Parkinson's.

*Betsy Lerner resides in North Carolina and is an online coach for Bridges for Parkinson's. Betsy has her Masters in Liberal Studies as well as English/African American Literature.

She has been working with the PD community for 5 years and her certifications include: MedFit - Parkinson's Fitness Specialist Certification, Rock Steady Boxing Coach Certification, Parkinson's Disease Awareness Training for Fitness Professionals, Parkinson's Cycling Certification, Silver Sneakers Certification, 24-Hr Fitness Cycle Certification (20 years) and the Cooper Institute Fitness Specialist Certification. She has also been on the Hamil Kerr board since 2018.

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