Updated: Jan 1, 2020
There are many times during every day that I hear myself start a sentence with words 'If only I had...’
Indeed there are many more times when I use these words without even realising: "If only I had gone for a walk earlier, I wouldn't be stuck inside now because of the rain... If only I had responded to that email yesterday I wouldn't be looking at 50 new emails today". Yeah, if only.
In saying these words I'm beating myself up over stuff that only I can be responsible for, stuff that requires me to make a prompt decision and then just be shut of it. And it's a lovely, fleeting feeling when I do just that - respond or take action, and move on.
What could be easier? Well, lots of things are easier (drinking coffee; listening to music; watching the 57th. re-run of my favourite 'Fr. Ted' episode), but I make my 'If only' situations happen all by themselves through my inertia, my prevarication, my desire to spin out the end of a sentence as long as possible using several words when really only one is needed. There you go - I'm at it again!
I'm probably not alone with this self-criticism (if only I was...!). I think I hear many people chide themselves on a daily basis in a similar fashion to what I do to myself. The funny thing is, whenever I'm with someone who hears me give myself an "If only I had" ticking off, they very often comment "don't be so hard on yourself, it's only an email - you can get back to that person later". And of course, they're right. I can get back later.
I need to move on. I need to not over-think the small stuff. I need to understand that sometimes the consequences of "If only I had" will be a little uncomfortable but not necessarily earth shattering. I'm pretty sure if I can get comfortable with that I'll have fewer "If only I had" situations in future!
Something else that helps me with my "If only I had" situations is the diagnosis I received 10 years ago. Parkinson's Disease has given me a whole new perspective on life, small stuff, and emails. For the past ten years I've been trying to come to terms with this illness, trying to come to terms with how on earth did this happen and trying to come to terms with what might happen next. I simply don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I do know that I can take action now to lessen the impact of the possible negative things that may happen next.
The action I’m taking is exercise, in all its forms and types: walking, running, cycling, dancing...moving every day in every way. The more I do the better I feel. The same is true for my speech and language therapy exercises. The more often I do my voice exercises, the more confident I am that I'm being heard, the more confident I am that I can contribute to the conversation.
I am not alone in this. Every month, I join with my speech and language therapy support group where we are all speaking loud, being heard, enjoying life. Our group has gone from strength to strength over the past 3 years. It is truly uplifting to observe (and join in!) the voice exercises and discussions that everyone participates in, willingly and confidently. I'm tempted to say "If only I had recorded everyone 3 years ago, the progress we'd see" but why would I say that?
These days, I exercise because it makes me feel good. It’s an added bonus that exercise slows down the creep of PD - the creep that is PD! I’m pretty sure that exercise will become more and more critical in the treatment of all illnesses. I don’t want to hear myself say "If only I had exercised all this time..." but rather "well, I’m glad I did!". This is one "If only I had" I’m not going to dither over!
About the Author
Gary Boyle lives in Dublin, Ireland. He has Parkinson's Disease. Gary helps others who have Parkinson's Disease as well as professionals by sharing his experiences of living with the condition. Gary has been a great advocate for many with Parkinson's Disease in Ireland. You can follow Gary on Twitter @Gfboyle1.
Would you like to read more posts related to Parkinson's Disease? Check out 5 Tools to Improve Speech in Parkinson's Disease