‘I walk like a drunk man but Parkinson’s doesn’t define me,’ says Billy Connolly

Oct 15, 2021
Billy Connolly has been battling Parkinson's disease since 2013. Source: Getty

As many of you may know, beloved comedian, style icon and personality machine, Billy Connolly, has been fighting a long-term battle against the unstoppable, having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013.

After years of tackling symptoms, which impact movement by way of stiffness, slowness or tremors, Connolly made the difficult decision to end his five-decade-long stand-up comedy career at the end of 2020.

Speaking to the ABC’s 7.30 program on Thursday night, Connolly elaborated on the impact his diagnosis has had on his life. “It has its moments and it’s just weird. Like, I am in a worse state than I realise sometimes,” Connolly shared.

Despite this, the 78-year-old says he still holds optimism for the future, stating that “Parkinson’s doesn’t define” him. “I try not to think about it,” Connolly says.

“I walk funny, I walk like a drunk man, and I see people staring at me sometimes and that reminds me that I’ve got it. I get invited to places to meet people who have got it and talk about it, but I can’t imagine anything worse than sitting around talking about it.”

Although Connolly says he doesn’t like thinking about his diagnosis, let alone talking about it, he knows that sharing his story can be powerful.

“A woman came up to me in Portland, Oregon … and she said, ‘Because of you, I took up fly fishing. But because I’ve got Parkinson’s, I can’t tie my flies or my hands shake,'” he shared. “She said, ‘You’ve got me in terrible trouble. I have to take people with me who can tie flies.'”

“I thought, I’ve done something good with my life to get that result from that woman … it’s a lovely thought.”

Connolly’s new autobiography Billy Connolly windswept and interesting: My autobiography was released this week, and is available in all major book stores.

Connolly’s partner shared on Twitter a lovely message in support of Billy and his new autobiography.

If you’d like to know more about Parkinson’s disease, you can find support via Parkinson’s Australia, here.

Do you know someone living with Parkinson's disease?

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