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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."

Parkinson's UK support

"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 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'."

Paul on telling his wife

"She felt that it was better just to get it out there. I took her advice and it was the best thing to do. I just go with the flow now - if I shake I shake."

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."

Giving back

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

"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."

Paul on learning to draw

"Not only does it control my tremors, but it just puts you in that nice relaxing place. When you're thinking you're in a dark place this sort of gives you a wee bit of hope."

Emma Lawton by the river

How do other people cope with Parkinson's?

People with Parkinson's and their friends and family share how they cope with the condition, and their tips for taking back control.

All real life stories