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Paul's story - Parkinson's doesn't have me

"I was diagnosed with Parkinson's on 14 November 2010 at 9.45am. My life changed in minutes.

"I had convinced myself that I would be told that I was just under a lot of stress, then WHAM! Minutes later I was walking down the hospital corridor, numbed by the news.

"I got to the lifts and crumbled.

Paul on hiding Parkinson's from his wife

"In those early days I was in a pretty bad place.

Then I heard there was a Parkinson's UK open day coming up in Belfast. 

"I watched people go in, and some were in a pretty bad state. I very nearly got cold feet, but thankfully this has got to be the best thing I have ever done.

I now have a renewed value on my life.

"I met other people with the condition, as well as the Parkinson's nurse and the charity's Parkinson's local advisers.

"I owe a lot of gratitude to the Parkinson's UK team in Northern Ireland. Not only have they given me the courage to take control of the condition myself, but I now have a renewed value on my life.

"My new mantra is 'I may have Parkinson's, but Parkinson's doesn't have me'.

Taking control

"I hope that treatments will get better before my symptoms get worse. I know Parkinson's UK is doing everything possible to make progress happen quickly. In the meantime I've decided to do what I can to help myself.

"I took up art, and boy, has that opened huge doors for me, including an upcoming solo exhibition. I train in Shotokan karate 5 times a week. I compete against contestants who don't have Parkinson's – and win! I also sing in the Belfast Parkinson's choir.

Paul on learning to draw

Supporting Parkinson's UK

"I try to help the charity whenever I can, such as by giving talks to health professionals.

Get involved, help yourself and challenge yourself every day.

"I've received good care, but I had to go looking for it. Not everyone with the condition is able to do this. And professionals can do so much with the right knowledge and understanding.

"As bad as it was getting my diagnosis, I've done things I would never have had the opportunity of doing, and I have a fantastic group of friends.

"The best advice I could give to anyone in a position where I once was is get involved, help yourself and challenge yourself every day.

"I treat every day as if it is my first – telling myself today is going to be a good day."