We often talk about “resiliency” in our support groups. If you are living with or loving someone with a movement disorder, you know it well; it’s a way of life. Receiving a movement disorder diagnosis is like a fork in the road—it changes one’s life trajectory, sometimes making resiliency the only feasible route to carry on.
Erin and her grandpa
I always knew I wanted to do work dedicated to helping others, but I didn’t choose social work until my grandfather found himself within hospice care. I saw the compassion and care provided to him and immediately made the decision to go into a profession that allowed me to do the same for others. My social work studies focused on the aging population and eventually led me to working with the neurology population, and I have found my passion here.
I’m currently the senior program coordinator at Northwestern’s Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center in Chicago, IL. Here, I have seen time and time again the positive impact of providing counseling and assistance to individuals, caregivers and communities who are dealing with these diseases.
I love working alongside numerous strong, unique, funny, thoughtful, and compassionate patients and caregivers. I’m continually astounded by their strength, authenticity, and vulnerability. The patients and caregivers I work with push me to be better. They are all so deserving of tailored support and care. It’s with gusto that I meet the challenge of serving them with more novel, accessible, and impactful programs. Organizations like PMD Alliance help make that programming possible as they are an extension of resources for the people our center supports.
In addition to providing support and resources, part of my job includes providing a safe place to have tough conversations about what it means to live with or care for a loved one with a movement disorder. I try to facilitate open and honest conversations about what it means to be resilient. It’s not uncommon to have feelings like resentment and exhaustion in addition to being resilient.
At the end of the day, movement disorders are much more than the physical symptoms, and people are so much more than their condition. The inner strength of the people I work with is palpable. Every day, people with movement disorders navigate a world of uncertainty and this takes strength, courage, and a special kind of perseverance that I am blessed to see day in and day out.