a woman with an inhaler is in clear distress, as dishes are piled up in the sink and her phone lights up with doctor appointment alerts

Feeling Overwhelmed (Part 1)

Last updated: February 2022

Editor's note: This is part 1 of a series. Be sure to check out part 2!

It doesn't take much to get that overwhelmed feeling when dealing with being short of breath daily. We wake up each morning not knowing how our lungs will greet the morning. Even if my breathing is good upon waking, what will happen by this afternoon? It can prey on the best of moods and eat away at the best of intentions.


Overwhelmed just writing it

Most of us have similar days or weeks of taking medications, doctor's visits, trying to do household chores that are no longer easy to complete, still working or financial instability, the list goes on. Whew! I'm overwhelmed just writing it. Then there are the obligations that cannot be avoided that cause such anxiety. The invitations to family events like a wedding or reunion, even a funeral. How do we get there? Can I breathe? How far is a walk to the entrance or the bathroom? I have a mile-long list of everything that could go wrong.

Routines and simplicity

When I start feeling this way, I know I have to find a way to get back to calmness. First I try to identify what is causing me to feel so overwhelmed. We like to blame everything on our illness, but sometimes it has nothing to do with it. It is just part of life and being a responsible adult, whether we want to or not. If I have kept to my normal routines of journaling and meditation, identifying the problems is usually fairly simple.

Problems and answers

Some issues that cause me to feel out of sorts, anxious, or overwhelmed, and my own solutions to them are listed below.

Falling behind with housework

Falling behind with my housework causes me a great deal of anxiety. It never used to but now I know I move a lot slower, taking a great deal longer to complete the work. This happens when I have unplanned activities or days of not feeling well. When it does happen I can not look at the entire project, but break it up into achievable tasks. I list by importance to me, which is usually any untidiness directly in front of me. Even if I have to throw items in a basket to be sorted through later, at least I have made the area look neat. I have to remember, not everything needs to be done today. I can dust today, sweep, or mop tomorrow. It still gets done.

Many doctor's appointments

Too many doctor's appointments closely scheduled can cause me a lot of stress. It seems like all my yearly tests come due together. I have quarterly visits as well, along with lab work. I try to schedule appointments like that two weeks apart. It provides some breathing time in between. If I accidentally set up an appointment at a time I am not comfortable with, I will reschedule. I have learned to keep my calendar of doctor's visits within my comfort zone or as much as possible.

Big decisions

Big decisions are always overwhelming. I used to make them quickly, but now I dwell on them for days and weeks, working myself up into a panic attack. Before I get that bad, now I open a notebook and make two columns, titled pros and cons. If the decision concerns money, I look at my budget and see if it fits into it. If it is for my health, does it provide me a better quality of life? Working this way puts everything into perspective and I can focus on the correct decision without worrying needlessly.

What do you do when become overwhelmed? What situations have you found yourself in that cause anxiety? Let's find answers together.

Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.

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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 COPD.net 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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