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Participant Information

Terry Jean


I am asked to comment on the role art plays in my life as a person with PD, and/or the role PD plays in my artwork or creativity.

For me personally, there is no relationship between the two. I cannot take an intellectual interest in this subject. For me there is only the experience of it, and the truth of that experience is what I will tell you.

PD is a disease. I have it. We are all here for a short time on this earth. PD is a ticking-clock message of mortality, reminding me that I am likely to run out of time sooner than I would have if I were healthy.

When I am "off," I can't move. Motion equals life. I feel the urgency of my impending immobility ... never knowing when I will wake up and find the day has come that finds me unable to do the things that make life worth living.

I don't want to look back and wish I had done this or that while I had the chance. This is a great motivator and drives me to attempt things I had previously been afraid to try. I haven't the luxury of procrastination or insecurity, though both still plague me. But there's no time for that.

PD is the bad guy in the cowboy movie, shooting at my feet. I have no choice but to Dance Now. Other than that, PD plays no role in my art except to get in the way of it, making it slower and more difficult to do.

I can't tell you how many pairs of headphones I have broken, as I staggered across the room forcing myself to remain standing long after my drugs had worn off...because they wore off while I was right in the middle of something.

PD is an intruder and I refuse to be interrupted by it. Making music is what I enjoy the most. Nothing else comes close to being as interesting to me. Everything else pales (except maybe having children but time and circumstances had already made that unlikely when PD came along and changed the odds to impossible).

I believe we need a desire that strong in order to give us the will to keep walking, standing and living. Only a very strong love is enough to give us the strength to push off the ten ton weight that's sitting on our heads.

The disease is so depressing and it takes so much stamina to live with it, to work against it; without the joy of pursuing my real interests, I would be too disgusted to fight.

I am not my disease. My art is not about my disease. My disease does not interest me, except in the sense that if a bandit were climbing in your window to rob you, he would have your full attention as soon as you spotted him. And he would hold your attention for as long as necessary for you to strategize your self-defense or plan your escape or kill him. Beyond that, you give him no thought.

PD entered my house uninvited. I do not make it comfortable or give it a seat at the table. I ignore it as much as possible. I spent a lot of time processing my misery when I was first diagnosed. I thought people would come to my rescue if only I cried loud enough. Then when I discovered that they don't, I cried about that.

But that is a waste of time. There are so many other ways I would prefer to spend my time. The only time PD will get from me is what it steals, and it already steals enough. I won't GIVE it any. Every moment that I spend immobile, I begrudge. But every moment I spend thinking about my PD or whining about my misery, or being depressed, is a moment I've handed over to the thief.

I will not let PD enter into my art. My art belongs to me and I am not about PD. I intend to remain who I am. A "person with PD" is not what I am. I'm me. I am a person. PD is a disease. I HAVE IT. Please note that the I is over there (on the left). And the IT is over there (on the right). And the verb is in the middle, separating the two.