Over summer, I have had a lot to think about. Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease has triggered me into re-evaluating my career path. I started training in Counselling and Psychotherapy way back in 2002 and this career has far exceeded my hopes and aspirations, in so many ways; something I try to pass on to those Counsellors and Psychotherapists who now come to see me in my role as their Clinical Supervisor.
Sadly, Parkinson’s is a one way ticket into increasing disability. Already, at the ripe old age of forty-five years, I use a walking stick and rely on medication to keep my body working. Apart from my walking stick, you would be forgiven for not knowing that I am registered ‘Disabled’; most of my symptoms are not visible. One symptom, however, that is going to have a major impact on my career relates to my speech.
At present, thanks to my medication and to practice, speech problems are not all that evident to other people. Occasionally, a slight slurring can be heard of and, once in a while, a client may ask me if I’m French, Australian, Dutch or Canadian due an occasional ‘twang’ or ‘lilt’ in my pronunciation. I don’t mind that; French, Australian, Dutch and Canadian accents sound pretty cool! Over time, however, that is likely to worsen and I will need to accept that speech difficulties may make my work as a therapist impossible. I am told that this could happen in as little as three-six years.
Good Advice Remembered.
Not being one to be easily defeated and definitely being one who likes to stay a ‘step ahead’, I have used my reflective thinking time, over summer, to think about how to proactively respond to my new circumstances. Someone once told me “Stick with what you know, what you are good at and what you have a passion for”. That was great advice. I decided that if, one day, I have to stop providing therapy in-person, then I could combine my knowledge with my other passion; writing, to create some self-help books for the General Public and training books for Counsellors and Psychotherapists.
I also have a passion for writing short stories and poetry and I have written for my own enjoyment since childhood, through to today; hence why I also write this Blog. The question is, do I have the skills to be able to turn this hobby into something that could be a new source of income, longer term? I decided to research my options and I found a course that will teach me skills in writing in different genres, short fiction stories, poetry, writing for the radio, novels, life writing, writing for children as well as adults, writing non-fiction, scriptwriting, editing processes and getting published.
A qualification in those aspects of writing will most certainly be an asset. I am lucky in having always been encouraged to practice writing, since early childhood and, having grown up amid the world of film, television, radio and theatre, I have a good insight into what goes in to making a written work that would translate to the performing arts.
I have already altered my work schedule and, apart from finishing off another course I am already working on, in Art Therapy, this week I start my ‘Diploma in Creative Writing’ course and I am incredibly excited about it.
I now only work two days per week in clinic in-person; Sundays and Tuesdays. I will continue to see clients for Counselling, Psychotherapy and Clinical Supervision via Skype, from home on other days of the week but, outside of Sundays and Tuesdays, the rest of my week will now predominantly be dedicated to writing. Being a Writer is now going to be the larger part of my life, not the smaller, and making that decision feels good.
Live in the Present.
Sometimes, life ‘throws’ challenges at you. The key, I believe, is to see an opportunity in everything. My dream was always to live in a beautiful, rural village in an old cottage not far from the sea and to write. I have achieved the old cottage in a beautiful rural village not far from the sea but it has only been the onset of Parkinson’s that has ‘kicked’ me into re-setting my priorities; writing is no longer a ‘One day I intend to…’, but is now an ‘I am currently…’.