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The Emotional Pain of COPD

Many with COPD suffer physical pain, other than the breathlessness that almost all of us with a respiratory condition suffer. I am lucky as a part from cramps I have not suffered much with physical pain. However, like many others I have not managed to avoid the emotional pain COPD can bring.

As has been discussed in other articles we do grieve for our past lives.

I used to be very active, walking up mountains, and enjoyed long treks in the wilderness. I was an outdoor man with a challenging physical job too. Now unable to walk far, and using a mobility scooter, it is easy to see the vast changes I had to make in my life.

Some of us have family that accuse us of being just plain lazy good for nothings, that there is nothing really wrong with us. It’s all an act. Some lagging behind when out are told to get a move on. Stress makes us worse and more breathless. The result is often that some of us decline to leave our home. Sadly I had problems with less-than-sympathetic family, whom I have now disowned. We have to be strong. To be positive in the face of hardship. Not to be afraid of letting go of anything that is bad. Whoever and whatever it is.

Some of us grieve not only the loss of our past life, but a partner too.

Some partners walking out the door, unable to cope with caring for their partner. I remember when first becoming disabled worrying how my wife, Lynne, would cope with my disability. In my mind Lynne did not buy into my disability. Looking after me, a man with breathing problems, using oxygen for mobility, that could not even walk far. I decided to sit Lynne down, and talk about us. With tears in my eyes I gave her the option to leave. To make a new life for herself so she would be able to find another fitter partner. The tears becoming tears of joy hearing Lynne telling me not to be so silly. That she loved me, and was going nowhere.

Sadly for some that is not the case. With some partners opting out the door to a new life. Leaving their grieving partner to suffer not only the loss of their old life, but partner also. My advice is to sit down and have an honest heart to heart with your partner. Be truthful. You might be surprised at just how much support, and love your partner has for you.

Most my friends were great. I did not want sympathy. Just understanding. For them to understand everything takes me longer to do. I am in the slow lane. I need friends and family to respect that. I use oxygen and my friends as are most people, cannula blind. Only one now ex friend and his wife looked at me horrified when first seeing me with a cannula. The kind of look that asked if I was carrying a deadly disease, like the bubonic plaque. They made excuses to leave as fast as possible. Needless to say I never wanted to see either of them again.

We also have to fight our other demons.

Sometimes when we are having a setback we become depressed. Being one of life’s positive creatures it is rare for me to become morose. But there have been times when I have dwelled in a bottomless pit of self-pity. A black pit of grim thoughts. Coming from me, probably one of the most positive COPD writers you know, I expect that shocks you. Proving I am not immune from pain. There is only one answer to a ‘pity party’. That is to climb out of it, as hard as it might seem at times to do so. Moving that body helps. Visiting friends, talking to loved ones, having a day out, enjoying a hobby, or maybe, and I am very guilty of this, treating yourself to something nice even if it seems a little expensive. A good comedy film does wonders for me too. Anything that brings a smile to our faces will help get us out of the ‘pity party‘.

I have many friends worldwide on the internet. I love the diversity. People from many cultures, and countries. Places I have never been, or will ever visit. I love chatting about different customs, cultures, foods. But have one rule. A rule you need to adopt too. No negative people allowed. Strike negative people off your list. You do not need them. You need positive people only. Not any that have a whole tale of woes to tell. Fill your life with people who make you feel good is my advice.

Being in a long-term illness can make you feel lonely.

I know at one time. In the early days. I felt as though I was the only person in the world that had lung problems. I felt very alone and isolated. Even though I had Lynne. It was only after research, and a short while after starting my first blog I realized there were so many others suffering breathlessness out there. I realized there were very many thousands of us, feeling isolated and alone, in all parts the world. This is where the internet has really become our friend. If you don’t belong to one already it is time for you to join a self-help group such as the one I started a couple of years ago, We strive to breathe easier‘ is a place where very many others with COPD are. Members ask, and receive answers to questions. Soon learning whatever we are experiencing might be unique to us, but not everyone. A COPD support group has a vast pool of knowledge you can dip into. A place to receive help and empathy.

As you have probably noticed we all share much in common. By sharing, supporting, and being positive we can live good lives, and learn to laugh, and enjoy life despite the hardships. Remember. The majority of us die with COPD rather than because of COPD so we have to learn how to deal with it. I hope you have enjoyed reading this. Till my next article. Keep that body moving. Smile but most of all Breathe easy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • The mama
    2 months ago

    I have just recently discovered this page, read 1 article about showering and I did what was suggested!! Wow! What a difference that article made. I had wanted to ask about how people with COPD showered or bathed. The article suggested putting on a hooded robe after shower/bathing!! I hadn’t realized how much more effort (and sob-ness) it took to dry off with a towel!! I am so appreciative of that helpful hack!! Thank you so much!!!

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    2 months ago

    HI The mama – Thank you so much for letting us know how much that helped. We’re thrilled to know that you benefited from one of the suggestions made. I hope you find many more helpful hints.
    Regards, Lyn (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi The mama, and thanks for providing us with the positive feedback about suggestions made for taking showers with COPD. It’s always gratifying for us to know we are providing practical tips for our community members. Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

  • dawnish
    2 years ago

    Hi. I just want you to know that everything you wrote hit home. Other people don’t have to be hard on me. I do a good job of doing that. Now I really do my best to turn that frown upside down. I get rid of that negative thought and look at a good story on the net that is an uplifting animal story. Animals have always been my passion. To get away from the chaos if where I’m living,I get out my coloring book and pencils,such fun,or I read a good e-book. Thanks again for telling me that I’m not alone withe those thoughts. This site is doing wonders for my happiness,thanks

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi (again) dawnish. Thanks for your comments here and we also appreciate the value you’re finding in our website.
    Warm regards,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • buckybuck
    2 years ago

    Once again, Derek, you’ve written somethig we all can relate to! Thank you! Such good advice you give concerning keeping negative people out of your life. It may be a hard thihg to do especially if it’s family, and I do believe they are owed an explanation. In doing such, you may find that they just we not aware how negative they are and how it affects others. So two goods cam come of it!

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