What Parkinson’s Taught Me | Emma Lawton | TEDxSquareMile

What Parkinson’s Taught Me | Emma Lawton | TEDxSquareMile


Translator: Morgane Quilfen
Reviewer: Theresa Ranft Hi everyone, I’m Emma, and just under four years ago,
at the age of 29, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I can’t control my own slides
because my hands are shaking too much, so someone’s controlling them for me. It’s you, that’s where
I need to look. Thank you. I’m going to do this every time
I need to control it. Thank you. I want to talk to you
about what Parkinson’s has taught me during that time. It’s very subtle. (Laughter) I was diagnosed just under four years ago at the age of 29. I wasn’t expecting Parkinson’s. No one is at that age. No one is. If you’re a girl under a particular age, I think it’s quite rare
for women to get it, and it’s definitely rare
for 29-year-old women to get it. I’d had a strange feeling
in my right arm for a long time. Something that I couldn’t pin down
to anything in particular. And I’d been ignoring it. And it was eventually
that my dad said to me, ‘Go to the doctors, get it sorted. You need to get this sorted,
it’s really important’. And I did. And they took me for brain scans, and I thought, ‘Ooh,
we’re getting serious now. This is getting a bit —
it’s kind of risky territory’. But I’m still thinking, ‘Probably a trapped nerve,
or a carpal tunnel at worst’. I was never thinking
anything more serious. And the brain scans — while I was waiting for them
they said to me, ‘It could be Parkinson’s disease, it could be Huntington’s disease,
or it could be Wilson’s disease’. And in the weirdest thing
that anyone’s probably ever thought, I was rooting for Parkinson’s, because the other ones you die from,
and I wasn’t ready to die. [29.04.2013] This was eventually my diagnosis date. It took a little while to get there, but it was actually a day that for me
was a day of decisiveness, not a day of sadness. It was the day where I knew
how to move forward and how to proceed with things. It was also a day that I had
my family around me. We went on a fun family day out that day,
because we were all together, we just thought, ‘We’re here,
let’s do something fun’. And it became the day that I knew
where my support network was, that they were around me,
they were there for good to help me. And every text I got,
I got more and more positive in return. One of my juniors at work
sent me a text saying, ‘Trust you to get
an old person’s disease’. And I thought, ‘Great,
that’s the level we’re going for’. (Laughter) We were back to normal immediately. There’s 127,000 people currently in the UK
living with Parkinson’s disease, I am just one of those people. But I have been given an opportunity
to tell my story countless times, and I think that’s because
I put a slant on it that is a positive one. It’s definitely easy for people to digest, but it’s also made it easier for me
to come to terms with it. Because ultimately,
I was dealt this big, old, ugly package of Parkinson’s and I thought,
‘What am I going to do with it? I’ve got to find out what to do with it
to make my life good, and make my life strong,
and to make decisions for myself’. And I realised that actually, I couldn’t change
what was happening to me. [C8H11NO2] I had a lack of dopamine in my system, and that is something
that is a massive deal. If anyone knows anything
about Parkinson’s, Parkinson’s causes a lack of dopamine, a chemical which controls temperature,
mood, your movements, the way your brain communicates
with every single muscle in your body. You’re fighting a battle
against your brain and you’re not going to win. But I thought, ‘I can repackage this. I work in branding, I can repackage this and actually make it something
that works for me and that I enjoy’. So I’m still dealing with the same thing, but I’m dealing with it in a way that leads me to positivity
and happiness, ultimately. And I’d love to share with you the ways that I’ve actually
found happiness in something as big as Parkinson’s. Some is through what I’m wearing. Obviously, this makes me happy. So I’m going to share with you
my ten ways to find happiness when it really doesn’t want to be found. These are the ten ways that I’ve looked
to what I have as a situation and actually made it my own, and made it something
that I’m happy and proud of. Don’t look for happiness. Ultimately, if you go searching for it, you’re not going to find
anything long-term. I’ve looked for it in the form
of men on white horses carrying armour and things like that. I’ve looked for it in the bottom
of Häagen-Dazs tubs. I’ve looked for it in the bottom
of the scrolling page on ASOS. I’ve looked everywhere for it. And ultimately, you find happiness
for a fleeting time with those things, but happiness comes from within, and I know that’s a massive,
massive cliché, probably everyone’s told
you it a thousand times. But if you’re happy in yourself
and who you are, then you promote happiness to other people and that comes back to you sevenfold. The people around you
will be happier as well. Never bring a prop on stage
when you have Parkinson’s, you can’t be trusted. (Laughter) It’s okay to say
you are having a shit day. It’s okay to not be okay, you know. You can base on that old saying
which I love, which is, ‘You can cover a turd in glitter
but it will still be a turd, essentially’. (Chuckling) If you experience the worst of days,
then you will experience the best of days. You have to feel that unhappiness to feel the happiness
that you get from a good day and from good things
that are happening in your life. And ultimately, by saying to people,
‘I’m having a terrible day’. And being honest, and by actually being someone that has
to go out and talk about Parkinson’s, I’m doing everyone a misjustice if I’m selling it as something
that is amazing, and it’s all about
tinsel tops and things like that. It’s not. It’s actually incredibly hard. But by being honest with people,
they know how to treat me, they know what I expect from them,
what I do and don’t want help with. And it makes it easy for all of us. Because every time I tell someone
I have Parkinson’s, I know it breaks their heart a little bit. It may be the tenth time
I’m telling someone but it’s the first time
they’re hearing it. Be impatient, with yourself, not with other people, because that does not lead
to happiness on anyone’s time. Be impatient with yourself
and don’t settle. I could have very easily
hidden in a corner, with slippers on, on a chair,
done nothing for the rest of my life, and no one would have judged me for it because it’s a big thing to deal with. But I do more now
than I’ve ever done before, and that is because I feel
like I have nothing to lose. What’s the worst that could happen?
I’ll get Parkinson’s? Done that, you know. (Laughter) It’s alright. So, because of that, I kind of go out
and do more than ever before. I would encourage
other people to do the same. Live as if it’s the last opportunity
to do something. Say yes more. I say yes too much, and to be fair
I need to say no a little bit more, because I don’t sleep, ever. But it’s definitely a great opportunity
to try new things, when you suddenly
get thrown into a situation where you’re dealing
with something so new. Remember that everyone
is going through something as well. It might be something tiny to you,
but it might be something massive to them. And actually, by being kind
to other people and realizing that — you know,
the guy that pushes past you on the train, he might have had
a really rubbish day at work; the woman who is letting
her child cry in the corner, and you stood there tutting at them, someone in their family
may have just passed away. You don’t know
what’s happening in their lives. And actually, by being
more tolerant of others, it makes you happier in yourself. I suddenly realized, as someone in London,
it’s an incredibly fast-paced place. Everyone’s rushing
to get somewhere and do something, and pushing other people out of the way. And it’s nice to take the time
to consider what other people are feeling. That tolerance comes back to you
like a boomerang, because if you’re kind to other people,
people are ultimately kind to you. It takes sometimes a while to get there, and it might not be the same kind person, but it comes back to you eventually. Wear flat shoes,
I cannot stress this enough. (Laughter) If you have unhappy feet,
you have an unhappy mind, and that’s all I can say about it. I’ve got a slight heel on today,
but we’re talking like tiny, and it’s upsetting me slightly. Wear trainers whenever you can
because it’s just — when you’re diagnosed
with something like Parkinson’s, you can wear them to clubs
and get away with murder, it’s fantastic. But some people trot around town
all the time in heels, and I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry they have
to wear heels all the time, because no one is happy in heels. No one! If they’re saying they are, they’re lying. (Laughter) I like to say this sentence to myself because I think I’ve been very, very lucky
in the people that I have around me, but I found my port in a storm
before the winds came. I knew who my people were
before I needed them. And that meant that
when I looked for them, they were there. And I knew that I was sorted,
and sturdy, and supported. Sometimes, if you think
people are going to be there, you’re not 100% sure
until you need them whether they are, you may not have been there
for them in the past, they might hold a grudge. And having a support network
when something bad’s happening, or when good stuff is happening, is really, really incredibly important. It’s great to stand on your own, but it’s also really important
to have a team around you that are there cheering you on. Don’t grow up. I don’t mean like die or anything, we’re not going to get that dark. I mean, don’t be a grown-up. Run around, do what you can. Enjoy yourself. Wearing trainers definitely
helps with that, I find. People don’t laugh at silly things enough. I’ve been laughing in my head
at the name Trump since this whole fiasco happened. (Laughter) I feel I’m the only one doing that, I’m hoping other people here
do that every time as well. Great, that lady is nodding. Fantastic! It’s kind of running on the grass
when you’re not supposed to and doing stupid things, wearing tops like this
when you’re supposed to be a grown-up. When suddenly you’re dealt something
that’s really massive, you realise that actually you can’t be
ashamed of yourself anymore, you have to just get on
with being yourself and doing what you do. And it’s incredibly freeing! But I think children have it right, they have it set in their minds
what they want to do, they’re just going to do it and have fun. As we grow up, that kind of gets
shaken out of us a little bit. This man’s socks here
are filling me with great joy, because he’s the man that likes colour. We should wear more colour,
and be happy, and be children at heart. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but really appreciate
the small stuff that you can do. I would say I never really appreciated
steady hands, a firm handshake, being able to talk clearly, until those things became
more difficult for me. So, don’t get hung up
on the day-to-day little things if you possibly can, but appreciate the things
that you take for granted. I hug someone now and it feels
like I’m about to attack them because it’s all kind of —
or I’m frisking them or something. (Laughter) It’s great to know that you can go
into a room and feel confident, and present yourself confidently, and having something like Parkinson’s
stops that from happening. But I now appreciate
the things that I can do so much more than I ever could before. So the tiny things that I’m left with,
that I know I can still do, being able to stand up
in front of a room of people, fills me with so much joy and happiness
because I can still do it. And screw it, I’m going to it
for as long as I can! Find something that is your cause, of what you want to stand up for in life, and stand up for it. Mine is slightly narcissistic,
because it’s Parkinson’s. I mean, that’s ridiculous. I should have other causes
that I look up to as well. But actually, before I was diagnosed,
I didn’t really fight for anything. Now I fight for my own life,
my own existence, and what I want to do in my life. And I fight for others. I’m a kind of mouthpiece
for those people as well. It’s made me realise there are other causes out there
that I could lend myself to, and I could do more for them. Maybe not be such a narcissist. But I never had anything that I cared about
that passionately before. I never did charity work,
I never did anything like that. Being diagnosed made me realise that we have an opportunity to do
those things to help people. We have a mouth, we have arms,
we can do things to help people. And finally, my point is: I stand in front of you as someone who physically
looks nervous, looks scared. Perhaps it might seem
a little bit frightening if you’re in London
and you see someone shaking, in the times we’re in at the moment, everyone is aware
of what everyone else is doing and keeping an eye on people. But if you look into my eyes
and you hear me speak, you know who I am, you see me as a person. And I have the opportunity,
I can tell my story, people know who I am. But a lot of people don’t have
that opportunity. It’s knowing that the body is just a shell
for the good stuff that’s inside. The brain and heart is where
the important stuff happens, that’s the magic. And it’s looking into people’s eyes
when you talk to them, it’s being more tolerant to people and knowing that
we’re all the same, ultimately. But I have been left
with a fantastic Parkinson’s situation out of my slightly rubbish package
that I was given at the beginning. That is not a different package, that is what I was given to start with. I was given Parkinson’s, I haven’t changed that in any way,
there’s no way I can change that, my chemical make-up is still the same. But the way that I see it
is completely different. The way I feel about Parkinson’s
is completely different. The way that I feel about the world
is completely different. I would just implore you
to look at your own situation, see what you can do
to make yourself happy, because being happy
is an incredible thing. And ultimately, it’s in our hands. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “What Parkinson’s Taught Me | Emma Lawton | TEDxSquareMile

  1. A funny bit I have found is when I go in to a store, security follow me because my frozen facial expression makes me look suspicious. When I show them my parkinsons card to explain why I am the way I am they say sorry, I laugh.

  2. How are your nonmotor symptoms Emma, don't give up on a fix, Dr's are having success for Parkinson's with umbilical stem cells.

  3. This girl is amazing .She got so much love in her voice . It's sad that people like her get entangled in such avoidable dilemma . Disease such as Parkinson evolves because people lose contact with soil and the Sun's Uv . We suffer our so called intellect . We are being wrongly educated and driven away from nature . There is certainly remedy for the disease.

  4. I was 29 when my symptoms started I'm now 36 and it's took this long to get a diagnosis it's not what I wanted nobody does but I can relate to Emma and she is a true inspiration,just watching her video has made me look at life a whole different way thank you Emma for sharing your story and please don't ever feel it's narcissistic because you helped me and I'm sure a lot of other people thank you again for this video

  5. Thank you Emma, for using this health issue to reach out to others and give us such a lesson on positive thinking and being grateful for what we have and even what we don't have. I have some tremors and also have had lyme and love how you keep forging ahead despite your condition. You are an inspiration. May God bless you and watch over you.

  6. Onset at 18, finally diagnosed at 51. Finally getting a name for this demon was a day to celebrate indeed! I went from a frustrated with the world person to a happy person in a very short period. Like you, I was thrilled to know I was going to see the future. Thank you so much for this!

  7. I seriously cried this whole video. Partially feeling bad for you and partially feeling bad that able bodied people like myself take advantage of our health everyday. Your outlook on life is so inspirational to me. I found your video researching Parkinsons; as my grandma was diagnosed just early this year and it has progressed tremendously. Thank you for this video <3

  8. My mother has Parkinson’s disease She had taken levodopa for 2 years. But, October last year she had one injection of Apokyn (apomorphine) with bad side effects, the doctor wants her to take another one but I disagreed. 9 weeks ago a friend at work, introduced me to Best Health Herbal Centre, after telling her my mother’s problem. I ordered 2 bottles of Parkinson’s disease herbal formula from Best Health Herbal Centre, which my mother only used for 6 weeks and the result was extremely marvellous and my mother Parkinson’s disease was totally reversed. Am so happy to see my mother happy again.

  9. I really want to thank her! She is the spirit I want to become and am trying to become! Just went through a breakup (that was yesterday) because my partner was cheating and it’s weird because I don’t feel angry right now. I feel proud of myself that I can be happy and look forward. Of course it’s going to be hard but I have my people around me.

  10. You are truly an inspiration Emma. My partner has lived with Parkinson's for 12 yrs now. Gets tough as it progreses. The difficulty for him now is mobility, body parts freeze, and speech slurred so socializing is a problem for both of us.

  11. My sister in law, whom I love deeply, has this insidious bloody disease. She was diagnosed at 49 and now is 57+ yrs old and it starting to really kick in, symptoms are starting to appear bilaterally (both sides of her body) and she is falling a bit as well.

    It so hard for everyone in the family circle, but especially the patient!!….they were such vibrant, alive people and this malfunction of the brain is stealing them from a life they should have had. Stealing them away from us as well. My wife and I are determined to care for our loved one to the fullest extent of our abilities. Please donate something, anything! to Parkinson's Research…Stem Cell research holds great promise for this affliction as does Deep Brain Stimulation.

    p.s this young lady is a true inspiration and I would be proud to be her friend, pen pal, acquaintance…she is truly the most rational, openly lovely person with this disease other than Mr. Michael Fox I have read/watched. May science save her and millions others.

  12. The pain and stiffness she is feeling right now as she tremors, I know it feels like running a marathon. 48 here PD DX. God bless her.

  13. whenever she is touching that package made my curiosity excited a lot… but i appreciate that attention grabber. Actually she seems like twinkling star..

  14. Me too getting diagnosed with Parkinson's disease sooner than later , this women is beauty with brains ,I am just 20 yrs old about to get Parkinson's disease I would kiss her and marry her and we would live a life extraordinary

  15. I am thankful for you, Emma. I was diagnosed with PD January 2014 at age 60.  Thank you for being willing to stand up and let others know more about PD and we all need to have a sense of humor when dealing with this ailment.

  16. thank you Emma 💙 your talk is inspiring and heart warming. I love your sense of humour! A big hug from Mexico

  17. I don’t have parkinson’s in particular, but a mitochondreal one and struggle with the same symptoms. I can’t tell you how much I relate to this.

  18. For those who suffer from the disease, have you ever tried near infrared light therapy and cold showers? If you're ever going to try these, i suggest that you also change your diet (if you haven't done so) for a low carb diet, avoiding all vegetable oils (including soy), margarine, and all things with sugar (that goes for some fruits also).

  19. Parkinson's indicates unresolved rejection, massive amounts of abandonment, rejection and hope deferred. I read a book called"A more excellent way" by Henry Wright.

  20. Thanks Emma. I have Parkinson's too and much appreciate your presentation. Sharing to enhance awareness is very important. Keep going.

  21. This young woman is a wonderful human being, who gives us back the hope in humanity's incredible power to overcome hardships in life against all odds. Both her message and her delivery are absolutely genuine and spotless – and this opinion comes from someone who has worked in the public speaking "business" for twenty-odd years. Out of +60 TED talks I watched over time, I only saved four as "examples of fine speeches", and Emma's is one of them. It has been a privilege listening to you, mylady. Your strength and obvious joy of living is inspiring for all of us.

  22. I am proud of you, I am inspired by you. I start being a carer this week in a care home. I will think of you and love them the best way i can.

  23. I stopped my tremors, easily bleeding, hallucinations, and a lot more problems by Not taking my repinorole medication!

  24. Emma is brilliant. My sister was diagnosed a few years ago in her 50s. It's a horrible illness but progress is being made all the time and it's important to remain positive & get on with life as much as is possible. Well done Emma & good luck for your future.

  25. Such an incredible inspiration to positivity – a wise head on young shoulders. Apologies for the self-promotion, my burgeoning channel is dedicated to the Cure Parkinson's Trust – a sub, like, comment or share would help spread the word to gamers.

  26. This was a terrific inspiring talk that no matter what situation you are in the advice can be applied to all of us. My problem is invisible I am in constant pain and try to live each day one day at a time. Some days I can hardly walk but still do as much as I can. Thats all any of us can do. I never give up that I will one day be pain free again. Enjoy life its the small little pleasures that are all around that make living great. When the weather is great rejoice. When plants start to come out after winter enjoy them.
    I agree that having good people around you is vital and not always easy to find. Find things to be grateful for. When I see some one in a wheel chair or on crutches I am grateful that I can still walk even if I am in pain.

  27. I'm 16 and my fingers shake and I noticed that I have a difficulty in expressing myself because my voice trembles as well. I noticed this when I was still in grade school, when I was 13 yrs. old. Medical facilities here in our place in not advanced and when I had my check up, they told me that it's because of using cellphone but I think that's not the case since I am not that expose in technology and I still have no phone in grade school. So I began researching about it and all the symptoms of parkinson's disease are clearly what I've been experiencing right now. This is really inspiring for me seeing how she's happy about her situation. Honestly, I worry about my future because of this shaking that I've been experiencing especially because I'm still young but seeing how happy she is, it makes me feel good because we are in the same situation. I hope that I will be confident as hers in the future so that I can deal with my illness as well because I really have low self esteem and it just makes my shaking worst especially when I am reporting infront of the class or if I'm reading books infront many people. But i know that everything happens for a reason.

  28. Love your presentation, my brother, 78 years old has just found out that he has Parkinson's , he has started medication and there is a small improvement. I checked this out (googled) and there is a possibility that Vitamin B , especially B1- B6 and B12, may be helpful. it has worked for some. It's worth checking out, you never know , wish you well, take care.

  29. You are truly an inspiration and the most beautiful, positive and strong hearted women I’ve seen. This video needs more views

  30. There was an MD that I read about in the 1980s that used B-12 to against alzheimers and he said he cured patients but he was shut down because he found truth about disease. The same thing will happen when a physician uses raw vege diet for Parkinsons.

  31. emma — thank you so much for your inspiring words. i was diagnosed a year ago and i'm still having problems with happiness. i've made this my urgent goal so i can get happy as soon as possible. thank you again for helping me "shuffle" towards my goal!! (lol)

  32. This woman is truly inspiring..i saw my aunt suffering from this disease, its hard and worse than what we could see or hear from someone really suffering…Emma is a winner to me.. i meant she was fighting a battle with her brain, she won the battle already!!! One of the best TED episodes.. Thanks!

  33. Why have you 'thumbed downed ?? Courage ! For these sufferers. Frightening. What a courageous young woman!

  34. Thank you Emma. I am now 80 years old and was diagnosed with PD 3 months ago. I havd no outward signs but have been trying to deal with the internal problems for the 20 or so years and for the last 3 or so years my problem has been balance and gait. Watching you gives me a lift.

  35. Wow, such an inspiration.. and very brave from Emma.
    i remember Muhammad Ali suffered the same disease 🙁

  36. So proud of her to be so strong! and i am happy people stood up while clapping, very touching ending.

  37. Brave girl welldone I have a work collegue who has early parkinsons .I searched you tube and found and hour long lecture on"Neuroscience nutrition &parkinsons "interesting take on it .Also the new "Plant based doctors in u.s a maybe somewhere to look They are having some sucess with m.s and many other conditions ,,,,,,, Best of luck with it ,,,

  38. Emma. You are a ray of sunshine that the whole world needs. You are beautiful, an inspiration, and a voice for all that struggle with finding happiness within themselves.

  39. I need to hear dat message I love da way she explained it, this made me remember dat no matter what I'm goin thru otha could be goin thru worse & whateva I goin thru I need to make da best of it my God bless u Ms. Emma in da name of Jesus

  40. This country needs to create safe neighboorhoods where children can run and play outside with their friends like it used to be 50 years ago. Nowadays, children are developing diseases that belong to the ederly and it is due to the lack of exercise and outside activities. USA, please…stop building future inspirational stories such as this one. Our children deserve better than that.

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