Ambassador Leader Highlight: Doug Reid

Written by the Davis Phinney Foundation’s Community Engagement Team 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and in this month’s HPC Leader Highlight, we feature Doug Reid: a Davis Phinney Foundation Ambassador who lives with young onset Parkinson’s (YOPD) and who has navigated mental health challenges as part of his journey with Parkinson’s.

MEET DOUG REID

As a Colorado-based Ambassador, Doug is a familiar and friendly presence in our office in Louisville, CO. Doug isDoug Reid in the snow always willing to help as a volunteer from stuffing envelopes for mailings and serving as a panelist on our Living with Parkinson’s Meetup to helping at in-person events and anything else that may come up.

DOUG’S MENTAL HEALTH JOURNEY 

Doug’s Parkinson’s journey is a testament to the benefits of facing challenges head-on and always striving to live well.

Doug was diagnosed with YOPD in 2010, and his diagnosis exacerbated depression he was already experiencing. This impacted his relationships and led to isolation that deepened his depression even further. This isn’t rare: Research shows isolation contributes to significant worsening of depression.

Moreover, like all of us, the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to increased isolation for Doug. For him, though, this drove home how important it is to reach out to friends, family members, and others within his community, and he recommitted to efforts that prioritized all aspects of his health—especially his mental health.

Doug advocates for the value of consistent exercise and for being open to exploring a holistic array of treatments. His aspiration as an Ambassador leader is to “pay it forward” by sharing the awareness and skills he has developed since his diagnosis.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM A CONVERSATION WITH DOUG 

WHAT IS YOUR WHY? 

“Idle time leads to isolation, and isolation leads to depression.” — Doug Reid

Doug became an Ambassador after he stopped working, because he found that having responsibilities improved his mental health. He shared that it is critical to socially push yourself and be an active member of the community, establishing accountabilities and responsibilities based on your interests as well as capacities.  

WHAT ISSUES ARE MOST SIGNIFICANT IN YOUR PARKINSON’S COMMUNITY?  

“A lot of people live with YOPD, and many don’t seek resources or support. There are many reasons for this, including stigma and a sense of isolation that can be hard to break out of.” — Doug Reid

As a person with YOPD, Doug has experienced being the youngest person in the room with his diagnosis. He knows how isolating this can feel. Early in his Parkinson’s journey, Doug was hesitant to go to programs such as Pedaling for Parkinson’s. However, when he started to attend, he was surprised at the lively energy in these classes.

Doug Reid at Leadership ConferenceAfter seeing how these events helped people live well, he was hooked and started actively seeking more of these opportunities. Connecting with the Parkinson’s community can be a great way to avoid isolation–and the depression so often accompanying it.

HOW CAN PEOPLE MANAGE THE MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES OF YOUNG ONSET PARKINSON’S?  

“Reflect. Celebrate smaller wins. Allow yourself to feel good having people in your life, and do what makes you happy.” — Doug Reid

Doug’s way of navigating mental health challenges related to Parkinson’s include monitoring his overall health, getting out and being social, and staying focused on the positive.

Doug recommends doing what it takes to stay connected with friends. It can be tough–especially with Parkinson’s–but Doug says it is important to keep finding ways to keep doing what you enjoy with friends. Identifying opportunities for this brought an important vibrancy back to Doug’s everyday world. 

WHAT PERSONAL STRENGTHS HAVE HELPED YOU? 

When asked about his personal strengths in navigating his healthcare journey, Doug pointed to his unique attitude and motivation to be social. These strengths have led him to participate in support groups and he currently co-leads one focused on deep brain stimulation (DBS).  

“Fight apathy–say yes to opportunities and force yourself to do things. Every victory counts. Parkinson’s is a not a death sentence, and you can live a happy life.” — Doug Reid

DOUG’S Final ADVICE 

When we asked Doug what additional advice he had for people navigating life with Parkinson’s, he focused on self-awareness and self-advocacy:

“Don’t be afraid to try new things, including therapies, medications, etc. If you stay focused and pay attention, you will likely find that you know what you need and are the best to identify what is working and what is not.” 

Additional Resources 

2023 Interview with Doug

Webinar about DBS Support Groups, Featuring Doug

Our Ambassadors

Parkinson’s Well-Being Map Tool  

Emotional & Mental Health for Parkinson’s 

WEBINAR RECORDING: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Parkinson’s 

Davis Phinney Foundation Mental Health Blog Archive 

The post Ambassador Leader Highlight: Doug Reid appeared first on Davis Phinney Foundation.

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