The last few weeks have been challenging for me, my patients, LOUD Crowd members, and my friends and neighbors living in SW Florida following hurricane Ian.

For me, it was the second Category 4 hurricane that has affected the community where I live and work, and to say I was dreading its occurrence would be an understatement. Hunkered down in my neighbor’s laundry room with our dogs, we spent 24 hours listening to pounding rain and howling wind rip shingles off her roof and for a few moments, imagined how horrendous it must be for people in Ukraine who have suffered for days and weeks in basements while bombs explode around them.

The days after the hurricane without power or internet reduced communication to text messages with friends and claims adjustors, face to face communication with neighbors that we have hardly known, and hours of manual labor including raking, cutting, and hauling debris. And, all of it culminating with a few of “why me again” good cries.

Several weeks have passed now, and mental and physical fatigue, while still present, have given way to some semblance of a normal routine of work and daily life, though one only must step outdoors and see the piles of debris and canopy of blue roofs to realize it’s anything but normal. At times I feel irritable, and then quickly try to shift to a place of gratefulness, recognizing that some people have lost everything.

Resilience in the Face of Parkinson’s or other Disease Diagnosis

Several years ago, I wrote a blog post about resilience in the face of a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

The ongoing changes in functional skills and living with the uncertainty that comes along with PD or any degenerative disease diagnosis can lead to significant adjustment difficulties including symptoms of depression and anxiety and a wavering sense of self. I am guessing not too different than what some people suffer after a natural disaster.

Yet, I see evidence all the time among my patients that many people with a medical diagnosis of Parkinson’s, aphasia from a stroke, or the aftermath of head-neck cancer treatment somehow muster the strength and resilience that is necessary to persevere through the challenges life sometimes presents.

Resilience has been described as a dynamic process whereby individuals cope with and exhibit positive behavioral adaptation to stress, challenge, and adversity. Research studies have demonstrated that resilience is composed of several elements, including, but not limited to, cognitive factors such as creativity, intelligence and maintaining perspective; personality characteristics such as having a positive/optimistic attitude; the tendency to resolve sources of depression and anxiety to maintain sound emotional well-being; and social factors such as a belief of social support and sense of connectedness to the environment.

Individuals who are resilient have coping strategies which may include the ability to view the obstacles in front of them as challenges to overcome rather than hopeless barriers.

Individuals with health challenges who maintain a positive attitude, optimism, and happiness, and invest energy in controlling the variables over which they have control, and not focusing on or magnifying challenges that are out of their control can lead to longer lives, less disability, and increased quality of life.

We Get by with a Little Help from Our Friends

On Thursday September 29, the day after Hurricane Ian, I had a few email messages come through my phone from LOUD Crowd members letting me know that they were ok but would not be attending class that day. On the subsequent days other members began to check in, a testimonial to how important our weekly gatherings have become not only for maintenance of communication, but for support and friendship.

This October begins the 7th year of the Charlotte County LOUD Crowd. Some members have attended the weekly class faithfully since its inception, and I have witnessed over the years the impact an after-therapy group like this can have in supporting resilience.

The American Psychological Association suggests “10 Ways to Build Resilience,” which include:

 (1) maintain good relationships with close family members, friends and others.

(2) avoid seeing crises or stressful events as unbearable problems.

(3) accept circumstances that cannot be changed.

(4) develop realistic goals and move towards them.

(5) take decisive actions in adverse situations.

(6) look for opportunities of self-discovery after a struggle with loss.

(7) develop self-confidence.

(8) keep a long-term perspective and consider the stressful event in a broader context.

(9) maintain a hopeful outlook, expecting good things and visualizing what is wished;

(10) take care of one’s mind and body, exercising regularly, paying attention to one’s own needs and feelings.

And if I might add… sometimes it just helps to have a good cry!

Photo by Roberto Hund:

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My MissionTo enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate  and empower. Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP * FiTOUR® Group Exercise Instructor * Voice Aerobics® A Whole Body Approach to Voice Practice

             Voice Aerobics the heART and Science of Voice Practice