Are You Scared? Don’t Be.

Are You Scared? Don’t Be.

Are You Scared?

When I was first diagnosed with COPD a few years ago, I was terrified. What did this diagnosis mean? Was my life over? Was I going to die? Would I linger like a Victorian invalid on my fainting couch while someone tended to me? Actually, that one didn’t sound so bad.

Facing this disease can be a scary thing

When you’ve just been diagnosed with a major chronic illness, it’s natural to be scared for your health and for your future. Your life will change. You may have fears depending on caregivers, about losing mobility and autonomy, about death. You may fear that when we are active you’ll get short of breath or worse, get in an exacerbation.

As always, you are not alone

An article in QJM: An International Journal of Medicine in 2008 stated that “Panic disorder has been found in up to 32% of depressed COPD patients and is a leading cause of Emergency Room visits1.” Now, remember this is way beyond feeling a bit anxious sometimes. We’re talking about Panic disorder with a capital P. This means overwhelming fear. This means panic attacks out of the blue. And a third of us go through that. So if that many suffer from Panic disorder, it’s a good bet that even more of us feel scared in lesser degrees.

Let me help: COPD is not an automatic death sentence

A big percentage of patients live decades after their diagnosis, especially people who take care of themselves. And luckily, there are lots of ways you can take care of yourself: Eat well; get help if you are depressed or anxious; quit smoking if you are a smoker; go to pulmonary rehabilitation; keep your mind engaged by learning or having a hobby; stay on your medical regimen; and keep active.

It’s natural, but don’t let yourself fall into the trap of being so scared that you refuse to live the life you have. Don’t give up on yourself. There is still a lot you can contribute to the world. You are still you and you still have purpose. It may be different than it used to be, and it may be different than you thought it would be, but you can find your new purpose.

You are more limited in what you can do, so do what you can

Keep as active as you can, whether that’s running a marathon (there really are runners with COPD) or simply walking down the hallway to a different room in your house. Both are admirable pursuits and both will help your health.

As for me, I’ve been diagnosed for about six years now. I’m not able to do as much as I could back then but I do my best and keep on keeping on. I take a walk every day to take photos. I read a lot. I do as much as I can with my teenage son because he’s my top priority. And I write about how COPD has affected me and changed me, not always for the worse. I never thought I’d be a writer and an advocate, but, hey, life is funny like that.

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.
View References
  1. Simpson A, Rocker G. Advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: rethinking models of care. Qjm. 2008;101(9):697-704. doi:10.1093/qjmed/hcn087

Comments

View Comments (9)
  • SuziRopiequet
    5 months ago

    GREAT support article, thank you so much!

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    5 months ago

    We love to hear your positive comments and that you find value in our articles.
    Barbara Moore (Site Moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi again, Suzi, and thanks for letting us know the value you found in this material. I’m sure Michelle will be pleased when she reads your comment. Regards, Leon (site moderator)

  • LynnInUtah
    5 months ago

    72 years old. Quit smoking 6 years ago. I don’t fear Death. I am totally not able to do only eat and sit. It took 27 years to get to this point. I am tired.

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi LynnInUtah,
    Not being chained to a pack of smokes and a light is total freedom for me. I hope you feel the same way. Its not easy to quit but once you do and feel the advantages it is amazing.
    Congratulations
    Barbara Moore (Site Moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi LynnInUtah and thanks for your post. Congratulations on being smoke-free for six years. That is one of the best accomplishments you can achieve for managing your COPD. You can be very proud of what you’ve done! Keep up the good work! Leon (site moderator)

  • uptowngrl55
    5 months ago

    Thanks, I needed that! The article was spot on for me & we have to remember that new cures are happening everyday! We need clean air, so get out & vote!

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi uptowngrl55
    Your comment is spot on. There are some very exciting medical breakthroughs everyday and we need to follow those people that can make it happen. Vote and have your voice heard.
    Barbara Moore (Site Moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi uptowngrl55 and thanks for your post. Glad to hear this article by our own Michelle Vincent resonated so clearly with you. Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

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