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  1. Clarity Now

    Dual Diagnosis

    My husband, an athletic, stable, hardworking father and attorney, was diagnosed in 1987 at age 33. PD "Syndrome" affected all five of us in the family over the horrific 27 years John suffered until he died in 2014 in a nursing home, leaving behind three broken-hearted daughters. John muscled through four DBS surgeries, which seemed to help some with the tremors. The most painful part of his disease were the symptoms he had that everyone in the family was carefully trained to deny because they were "socially unacceptable" in his family of Ivy-League values. John became horribly depressed, anxious, and psychotic about eight years after diagnosis. He became addicted to benzos to treat the anxiety; however, a benzo addiction mimics PD symptoms. By denying his addiction, his health deteriorated more than PD alone would command. The depression caused him to attempt suicide several times; again, the issues driving his depression were never confronted. He was even violent, attacking our oldest daughter and me one early morning, which led to his arrest and retirement from law. We separated and eventually divorced after 27 years. John was paranoid and accused me of things I had not done. Our oldest daughter didn't speak to him to five years after he beat her up at age 11. When she was older and safer, she resumed a loving relationship with him. Two of our three daughters have suffered mental illnesses and drug addictions. I, too, was very ill with depression caused by living with a crazy situation. PD stole John's body slowly over the years. He adapted. The worst part was having the disease rob him of his mind and emotions. If others notice signs of depression or misplaced anger in a PD patient, consult a good psychiatrist who has experience treating PD. Talk about it. Don't pretend the disease is responsible for every malady; some family issues need resolution. And be sure to protect the children. Our daughters were used by grandparents to be the caretakers and companions for John, which was unfair and unhealthy for them. No other family members would help, except from a distance. The damage done to our daughters cannot be fixed. Parkinson's is a bad disease that affects the entire family. Everyone suffers, and everyone needs support and treatment.