Combating Social Isolation
You have been diagnosed with COPD. How exactly will your life change? A diagnosis of COPD means almost every aspect of your life is about to change. However, physical changes aside, your social life could have the biggest impact. Combating social isolation and balancing your mental health can be a continuing battle. In fact, some say that 2 years from diagnosis they have totally different friends, interests and hobbies. The time has come to build a new village and a new community.
COPD is a day to day disease
COPD is a day to day disease. You never know how you will feel day to day. Keeping a social calendar gets tricky. The focus of your energy will be on your own maintenance. Plans are often cancelled. Friends stop calling. It's OK. Pare your friends down. One or two good ones will be more than sufficient.
Dealing with social isolation
No longer able to keep up with able-bodied people, your gym buddies will disappear, and so will your walking group. I couldn’t attend the annual dances or volunteer for family events or much of anything for that matter. At first it's hard and it's frustrating and it's lonely but your focus is shifting inward. Your life needs to be revolving around you now.
No feeling like feeling lonely
Loneliness is a terrible feeling and sometimes loneliness is not about not having people around. Sometimes it is about the people around you that refuse to understand you and your illness. If they understood, they would accommodate you. Friends and family will say they understand but in fact they won't get it and they refuse to listen. They continue to offer you remedies like getting more sleep, exercising more and eating better. Although these things help to manage your disease, none are a cure. We need to carve a new life that encourages us to be healthy both physically and mentally.
Where do I get a social life?
Sometimes, it is necessary to create a new social life. You can grieve your lost life, acknowledge it and move on. Some of us need a village and for some it's an entire community. I like to have contact with others that have COPD because I learn from them and from them, I find gratitude. Finding an in-person peer support group is a good first step. Most groups meet on a monthly basis. If you can't find one, start one. In today’s bold new world there is no need to live in isolation. I know a little bit about computers, tablets and cell phones. Even if you have never touched one you should give it a try. This is the gateway to a powerful new life of education, learning and knowledge.
Surfing the internet for socialization
The first place to surf is Facebook. They have (support) groups of all varieties. You can search for a COPD (certain kind of) group and you will have dozens of choices. Focus on diet, exercise, mental health, the choice is yours. Most groups are closed groups meaning only those that belong can read comments. This makes groups more private.
The second place to surf is YouTube. Anything you would like to know or do or make is demonstrated on YouTube.
The third place to surf is Pinterest. It is a search engine of anything you could possibly want to know or do or experience.
As we age, things naturally change and with chronic illness the things we can achieve will change. Things won’t be like they were but it is still OK. It’s all in the way you look at it and how you control the stories that your mind tells you.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to COPD?