As the global pandemic continues to disrupt the daily routines, medical care, and exercise programs for our Parkinson’s community, stress levels are high and spirits may be dwindling. While these are normal reactions to prolonged isolation and uncertainty about the future, they can lead to a not-so-healthy mental state, and they can be detrimental to Parkinson’s symptoms in the long-term. In order to survive – and even thrive – during this time, the ability to channel our inner resilience is critical.
According to the APA, resilience is how we adapt in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or stress. Whether or not we display resilience is strongly linked to whether or not we believe we have some control over the way our life plays out. The more control we believe we have, the more resilience we tend to show in trying times.
How can we channel our inner resilience if it’s starting to dwindle?
One way is to read about others who have been through challenges and survived by channeling their inner strength and fortitude. These stories offer us perspective and hope that things can always get better, no matter how bad they seem. We’ve compiled the reading list below that includes seven true stories of survival to help you channel your own inner resilience.
NOTE: If you purchase any of these books from Amazon.com, AmazonSmile is a no-brainer way for you to support the Davis Phinney Foundation. On your first visit to AmazonSmile (https://smile.amazon.com/), you’ll be asked to select a charity that will receive a donation every time you make an eligible purchase. Amazon saves that information so that every time you shop through smile.amazon.com, a portion of that sale will automatically be donated to us. Every dollar counts!
7 Stories of Resilience
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
In this time of adversity and uncertainty, it’s easy to lose our drive to engage with life. Even getting dressed and brushing our teeth can feel pointless when we’re confined to the house. Published in 1946, Man’s Search for Meaning is filled with Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s meditations on what gives our lives meaning: purposeful work, love, and courage in the face of difficulty. Read this for a reminder of what really matters at the end of the day.
Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
Ishmael Beah’s memoir reminds us of how much we have to be thankful for, even in the midst of a global pandemic. He recounts fleeing at age 12 from his village in Sierra Leone after it was attacked by rebels, being separated from his family, and eventually being claimed as a child soldier for the Sierra Leone Armed Forces. His story is a true tale of endurance.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
If Louis Zamperini were alive today, he would laugh in the face of anyone who said these times were challenging. “Louie” was an Olympian turned airman whose plane crashed into the Pacific ocean in 1943. He survived for more than a month lost at sea before being captured by Japanese troops and spending two years enduring physical and psychological torture inside their POW camps. In one of the most epic stories of survival from World War II, we learn about the capacity of the human spirit to endure and overcome any obstacle.
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice by Anthony Ray Hinton
Turning on the television these days can send even the most optimistic person into a hopeless downward spiral. In The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice, Anthony Ray Hinton restores our faith in the goodness of humanity. At 29 years old, Hinton was falsely accused of murder and sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent 27 years as an innocent man on death row, determined to maintain his hope, humor, and joy. Anthony Ray’s story can inspire all of us to overcome even the most difficult of challenges.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
This world classic is a record of a young Jewish girl’s life while she and her family spent two years in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. While 2020’s quarantine can be challenging, Anne’s story allows us to put our own time at home in perspective.
Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela by Nelson Mandela
How can we begin to cope with a situation that seems to have no end in sight? Looking at Nelson Mandela’s life as a South African anti-apartheid activist (including more than 26 years in prison) gives us guidance on how to have courage in the face of fear, patience in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, and perseverance when others say it can’t be done.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
In her popular memoir-turned-movie, 26-year-old Cheryl Strayed chronicles her impulse decision to hike 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail, completely alone, after her mother’s death and her own divorce. She was a novice with no training, no phone, and very little money, yet she managed to survive. As we find ourselves navigating a new terrain that we know very little about, Strayed’s journey inspires us to keep putting one foot in front of the other and shares how doing just this helps us reach the other side.
There is no doubt that many elements of this global pandemic are outside of our control. However, we can strengthen our resolve by recognizing that we can choose how we react to this event and by taking positive steps to continue to live well.