Person within a brain looking past demons

Shaking Off Those Psychological Demons

COPD opens the floodgates to many psychological demons. Some of the demons that plague me are depression, embarrassment, fear, and feelings of worthlessness.  I know that I am not alone in these battles. COPD isn't nice to us; it plays havoc with our physical bodies and our emotions. We really have to work at overcoming these emotions. We have to find the skills we need and use them.

A smoker's remorse

For me, it started with embarrassment. I was already angry with myself for abusing my lungs with tobacco. Unfortunately, the first pulmonologist I saw felt it was her solemn duty to make sure I was mortified by the mistakes of my past. Since I had quit smoking before I was diagnosed, it was surprising to think that someone could be so compelled to rub my nose in my mistakes.

Feelings of embarrassment over the self-inflicted damage to my lungs stayed with me for quite some time.  When discussing my COPD with people, I even prefaced many conversations with "well you know, I smoked".

I wish I could turn back the hands of time and make those healthy changes sooner. But since I can't, the best that I can do is concentrate on the positive steps I am taking to improve my health.

Depression and loneliness

When we have a disease it is easy to slip into a state of depression. Depression makes us feel lonely. These particular emotions can be mentally crippling.

I had spent a good portion of my life keeping depression at bay. My mother suffered from some form of it and as a child, I took a personal oath that I would never be like her. When I have those feelings the best thing I can do is get up and move. If you are feeling this way, get out of the house, maybe run an errand. If you see someone you know, strike up a friendly "hi, how are you". Reach out to others.

Feeling self-worth

My self-worth dwindles when I focus on the limitations this disease has caused. Sure this disease has made it difficult, even impossible to do things that once were easy. This is a slippery slope - one that can lead to feelings of despair. The bottom line is that dwelling on it allows it to become the elephant in the room.

When I quit smoking, I found that walking was a great diversion. I could sit and crave a cigarette or I could get up and take off walking. For me, this holds true for eliminating feelings of worthlessness too. When I take a walk my mind shifts into a better gear.

Shaking it off

When you are struggling with negative emotions, do something. Exercise, walk, dance, or do whatever it takes; but shake it off. If your mobility is limited, try breathing exercises. If nothing you try helps, reach out to a friend or a support group. Don't let those emotional demons set you back. Shake them off. I know this is easier said than done sometimes, but we will never win the battle if we don't try.

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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.

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