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  • Hi everyone, I'm Emma,

  • and just under four years ago, at the age of 29,

  • I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

  • I can't control my own slides because my hands are shaking too much,

  • so someone's controlling them for me.

  • It's you, that's where I need to look. Thank you.

  • I'm going to do this every time I need to control it.

  • Thank you.

  • I want to talk to you about what Parkinson's has taught me

  • during that time.

  • It's very subtle.

  • (Laughter)

  • I was diagnosed just under four years ago

  • at the age of 29.

  • I wasn't expecting Parkinson's.

  • No one is at that age. No one is.

  • If you're a girl under a particular age,

  • I think it's quite rare for women to get it,

  • and it's definitely rare for 29-year-old women to get it.

  • I'd had a strange feeling in my right arm for a long time.

  • Something that I couldn't pin down to anything in particular.

  • And I'd been ignoring it.

  • And it was eventually that my dad said to me,

  • 'Go to the doctors, get it sorted.

  • You need to get this sorted, it's really important'.

  • And I did.

  • And they took me for brain scans,

  • and I thought, 'Ooh, we're getting serious now.

  • This is getting a bit -- it's kind of risky territory'.

  • But I'm still thinking,

  • 'Probably a trapped nerve, or a carpal tunnel at worst'.

  • I was never thinking anything more serious.

  • And the brain scans --

  • while I was waiting for them they said to me,

  • 'It could be Parkinson's disease,

  • it could be Huntington's disease, or it could be Wilson's disease'.

  • And in the weirdest thing that anyone's probably ever thought,

  • I was rooting for Parkinson's,

  • because the other ones you die from, and I wasn't ready to die.

  • [29.04.2013]

  • This was eventually my diagnosis date.

  • It took a little while to get there,

  • but it was actually a day that for me was a day of decisiveness,

  • not a day of sadness.

  • It was the day where I knew how to move forward

  • and how to proceed with things.

  • It was also a day that I had my family around me.

  • We went on a fun family day out that day, because we were all together,

  • we just thought, 'We're here, let's do something fun'.

  • And it became the day that I knew where my support network was,

  • that they were around me, they were there for good to help me.

  • And every text I got, I got more and more positive in return.

  • One of my juniors at work sent me a text saying,

  • 'Trust you to get an old person's disease'.

  • And I thought, 'Great, that's the level we're going for'.

  • (Laughter)

  • We were back to normal immediately.

  • There's 127,000 people currently in the UK living with Parkinson's disease,

  • I am just one of those people.

  • But I have been given an opportunity to tell my story countless times,

  • and I think that's because I put a slant on it

  • that is a positive one.

  • It's definitely easy for people to digest,

  • but it's also made it easier for me to come to terms with it.

  • Because ultimately, I was dealt this big, old,

  • ugly package of Parkinson's and I thought, 'What am I going to do with it?

  • I've got to find out what to do with it to make my life good,

  • and make my life strong, and to make decisions for myself'.

  • And I realised that actually,

  • I couldn't change what was happening to me.

  • [C8H11NO2]

  • I had a lack of dopamine in my system,

  • and that is something that is a massive deal.

  • If anyone knows anything about Parkinson's,

  • Parkinson's causes a lack of dopamine,

  • a chemical which controls temperature, mood, your movements,

  • the way your brain communicates with every single muscle in your body.

  • You're fighting a battle against your brain

  • and you're not going to win.

  • But I thought, 'I can repackage this.

  • I work in branding, I can repackage this

  • and actually make it something that works for me and that I enjoy'.

  • So I'm still dealing with the same thing,

  • but I'm dealing with it in a way

  • that leads me to positivity and happiness, ultimately.

  • And I'd love to share with you

  • the ways that I've actually found happiness

  • in something as big as Parkinson's.

  • Some is through what I'm wearing.

  • Obviously, this makes me happy.

  • So I'm going to share with you my ten ways to find happiness

  • when it really doesn't want to be found.

  • These are the ten ways that I've looked to what I have as a situation

  • and actually made it my own,

  • and made it something that I'm happy and proud of.

  • Don't look for happiness.

  • Ultimately, if you go searching for it,

  • you're not going to find anything long-term.

  • I've looked for it in the form of men on white horses

  • carrying armour and things like that.

  • I've looked for it in the bottom ofagen-Dazs tubs.

  • I've looked for it in the bottom of the scrolling page on ASOS.

  • I've looked everywhere for it.

  • And ultimately, you find happiness for a fleeting time with those things,

  • but happiness comes from within,

  • and I know that's a massive, massive cliché,

  • probably everyone's told you it a thousand times.

  • But if you're happy in yourself and who you are,

  • then you promote happiness to other people

  • and that comes back to you sevenfold.

  • The people around you will be happier as well.

  • Never bring a prop on stage when you have Parkinson's,

  • you can't be trusted.

  • (Laughter)

  • It's okay to say you are having a shit day.

  • It's okay to not be okay, you know.

  • You can base on that old saying which I love, which is,

  • 'You can cover a turd in glitter but it will still be a turd, essentially'.

  • (Chuckling)

  • If you experience the worst of days, then you will experience the best of days.

  • You have to feel that unhappiness

  • to feel the happiness that you get from a good day

  • and from good things that are happening in your life.

  • And ultimately, by saying to people, 'I'm having a terrible day'.

  • And being honest,

  • and by actually being someone that has to go out and talk about Parkinson's,

  • I'm doing everyone a misjustice

  • if I'm selling it as something that is amazing,

  • and it's all about tinsel tops and things like that.

  • It's not. It's actually incredibly hard.

  • But by being honest with people, they know how to treat me,

  • they know what I expect from them, what I do and don't want help with.

  • And it makes it easy for all of us.

  • Because every time I tell someone I have Parkinson's,

  • I know it breaks their heart a little bit.

  • It may be the tenth time I'm telling someone

  • but it's the first time they're hearing it.

  • Be impatient,

  • with yourself, not with other people,

  • because that does not lead to happiness on anyone's time.

  • Be impatient with yourself and don't settle.

  • I could have very easily hidden in a corner,

  • with slippers on, on a chair, done nothing for the rest of my life,

  • and no one would have judged me for it

  • because it's a big thing to deal with.

  • But I do more now than I've ever done before,

  • and that is because I feel like I have nothing to lose.

  • What's the worst that could happen? I'll get Parkinson's? Done that, you know.

  • (Laughter)

  • It's alright.

  • So, because of that, I kind of go out and do more than ever before.

  • I would encourage other people to do the same.

  • Live as if it's the last opportunity to do something.

  • Say yes more.

  • I say yes too much, and to be fair I need to say no a little bit more,

  • because I don't sleep, ever.

  • But it's definitely a great opportunity to try new things,

  • when you suddenly get thrown into a situation

  • where you're dealing with something so new.

  • Remember that everyone is going through something as well.

  • It might be something tiny to you, but it might be something massive to them.

  • And actually, by being kind to other people

  • and realizing that -- you know, the guy that pushes past you on the train,

  • he might have had a really rubbish day at work;

  • the woman who is letting her child cry in the corner,

  • and you stood there tutting at them,

  • someone in their family may have just passed away.

  • You don't know what's happening in their lives.

  • And actually, by being more tolerant of others,

  • it makes you happier in yourself.

  • I suddenly realized, as someone in London, it's an incredibly fast-paced place.

  • Everyone's rushing to get somewhere and do something,

  • and pushing other people out of the way.

  • And it's nice to take the time to consider what other people are feeling.

  • That tolerance comes back to you like a boomerang,

  • because if you're kind to other people, people are ultimately kind to you.

  • It takes sometimes a while to get there,

  • and it might not be the same kind person,

  • but it comes back to you eventually.

  • Wear flat shoes, I cannot stress this enough.

  • (Laughter)

  • If you have unhappy feet, you have an unhappy mind,

  • and that's all I can say about it.

  • I've got a slight heel on today, but we're talking like tiny,

  • and it's upsetting me slightly.

  • Wear trainers whenever you can because it's just --

  • when you're diagnosed with something like Parkinson's,

  • you can wear them to clubs and get away with murder,

  • it's fantastic.

  • But some people trot around town all the time in heels,

  • and I feel sorry for them.

  • I feel sorry they have to wear heels all the time,

  • because no one is happy in heels.

  • No one!

  • If they're saying they are, they're lying.

  • (Laughter)

  • I like to say this sentence to myself

  • because I think I've been very, very lucky in the people that I have around me,

  • but I found my port in a storm before the winds came.

  • I knew who my people were before I needed them.

  • And that meant that when I looked for them, they were there.

  • And I knew that I was sorted, and sturdy, and supported.

  • Sometimes, if you think people are going to be there,

  • you're not 100% sure until you need them whether they are,

  • you may not have been there for them in the past,

  • they might hold a grudge.

  • And having a support network when something bad's happening,

  • or when good stuff is happening,

  • is really, really incredibly important.

  • It's great to stand on your own,

  • but it's also really important to have a team around you

  • that are there cheering you on.

  • Don't grow up.

  • I don't mean like die or anything,

  • we're not going to get that dark.

  • I mean, don't be a grown-up.

  • Run around, do what you can.

  • Enjoy yourself.

  • Wearing trainers definitely helps with that, I find.

  • People don't laugh at silly things enough.

  • I've been laughing in my head at the name Trump

  • since this whole fiasco happened.

  • (Laughter)

  • I feel I'm the only one doing that,

  • I'm hoping other people here do that every time as well.

  • Great, that lady is nodding. Fantastic!

  • It's kind of running on the grass when you're not supposed to

  • and doing stupid things,

  • wearing tops like this when you're supposed to be a grown-up.

  • When suddenly you're dealt something that's really massive,

  • you realise that actually you can't be ashamed of yourself anymore,

  • you have to just get on with being yourself and doing what you do.

  • And it's incredibly freeing!

  • But I think children have it right,

  • they have it set in their minds what they want to do,

  • they're just going to do it and have fun.

  • As we grow up, that kind of gets shaken out of us a little bit.

  • This man's socks here are filling me with great joy,

  • because he's the man that likes colour.

  • We should wear more colour, and be happy, and be children at heart.

  • Don't sweat the small stuff,

  • but really appreciate the small stuff that you can do.

  • I would say I never really appreciated steady hands, a firm handshake,

  • being able to talk clearly,

  • until those things became more difficult for me.

  • So, don't get hung up on the day-to-day little things

  • if you possibly can,