Johanne is 59 years old. She was diagnosed a few weeks ago by her neurologist. It was the decrease in her medication dosage that left no doubt and revealed what she had suspected for a few years: “Parkinson’s disease”.
One person in 20 with Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed before the age of 60, the average age of diagnosis. The announcement is often brutal and difficult to take. Johanne felt both sadness and relief, a kind of release that was both life-saving and painful.
Through her work as a psychologist (Johanne has a degree in clinical psychology) which she continues to practice 2 days a week with great passion, she is in contact with an eclectic audience (adults and children alike) and she knows that communication and sharing are two essential channels for calming torments and freeing oneself.
Her “coming out” came out quite naturally. Very close to his family and especially to his mother who affectionately calls him “her brave one”, they have closely followed the evolution of his condition, his symptoms and the difficult verdict of the disease. All these steps have allowed them to be more united and to have more contacts.
According to Johanne, the difficulty of announcing her illness was not related to her family, but to other people around her, such as her landlord. Johanne says she was afraid to tell him. And again, these exchanges ended in kind words, she was pleasantly surprised by his human and warm reaction and the help he immediately offered to give her. She was very moved. Sometimes we create barriers out of fear, we shut ourselves up in a silence, whereas words are liberating. You can be surprised at how some people react,” explains Johanne, “and she knows what she’s talking about.
As soon as the verdict was announced, Johanne, brave, decided to react and not to suffer. She got informed, turned to associations, organized appointments with specialists to help her live better with her disease: kinesiologist, neurologist, support groups… She also got in touch with Parkinson Québec through the info line to find additional information on Parkinson’s disease and more specifically on lifestyle, nutrition, and topics that concerned her and for which she lacked advice.
Johanne is a very dynamic person who also does countless other activities. Like dance, yoga that she had already been practicing for many years, but that she had sometimes given up, and also new activities that bring her a well-being that she could no longer do without, such as aqua mouvance, meditation, dance adapted to people with Parkinson’s disease (with the Grands Ballets de Montréal) or drawing (pastel)… All these activities plunge her into a creative and limitless world where imagination takes precedence over the disease.
As you can see, Johanne is one of those strong people who gives herself the power to act. Resilience is one of her primary qualities. She emphasizes the fact that knowledge becomes power; it is by having all the cards in hand that we can move forward and make the best decisions. She has accepted her illness, but every day she makes sure that it takes up as little space as possible in her daily life.