Human interaction is one of the essential components of well-being.
It is not unusual, however, for young people with Parkinson's disease to begin limiting their personal or professional activities in order to hide symptoms like tremor and slurred or slow speech from friends and co-workers. It may seem easier to avoid people than to explain symptoms you have not yet managed to accept yourself.
Another reason some young people withdraw is the apathy and depression which often accompany Parkinson's disease. Even those who have always been more extroverted may find that they no longer have the interest or motivation to stay connected with others or pursue new relationships.
Even when you do not feel like it, socializing is important and can improve your quality of life with PD immensely. Some people find it more important to remain engaged with the friends they had prior to diagnosis, others distance from those relationships and become involved in the PD community or successfully do both. Focus on whichever feels most right for you. The goal is to have some type of regular interaction with people, other than family members, who can provide support.
Consider becoming involved in a support group. Young people often put off attending support group meetings. They worry about not having enough in common with the typical, older Parkinson's patient who is in a different stage of life. Keep in mind that the APDA National Young Onset Center helps develop young onset support groups throughout the country. Contact us if you would like our help starting one or finding one near you.
If you prefer connecting on an individual vs. a group level, consider our Person-to-Person program. This long-running program connects young people with PD to one another. After completing and submitting your profile, we are able to match you with others who are similar in some way(s) including: age, age at onset, number/age of children, or professional, personal or PD-related interests.
Young people living with PD sometimes find they especially want to avoid socializing when it is related to dating. It may be helpful to keep in mind that every single one of us brings certain experiences and conditions into our relationship with others, and most couples, at one time or another, face challenges. A diagnosis of YOPD may require you and a partner to attend to certain aspects of the relationship more planfully, but it should not require you to abandon a romantic relationship altogether.