Shaking Off Those Psychological Demons
Last updated: October 2021
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
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.
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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