The Silent Struggle

Last updated: April 2023

It is true that when you have a chronic illness like COPD, your daily suffering will be a struggle that others cannot understand. 

My symptoms go over their heads. I am never truly sure if they want to understand or if it is just too much for them to understand.

Gasping for air and unspoken fear

I see them from the corner of my eye, just watching me as I am gasping for air, and sometimes, I can see the terror in their eyes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last long enough for them to ask me what it feels like.

Once my breathing has recovered and the event is over, everyone simply moves on as if nothing is wrong. But I know better.

After these events, my lungs continue their decline.

The silent truth behind shortness of breath

Doctors, friends, and family have never asked me to explain what happens or what it feels like when the shortness of breath episode is in full swing. They assume they know what is happening, and everyone has their own special opinion of what can heal me.

But their assumptions are often very wrong. Since we all suffer from the same disease but with different symptoms, how can they know what is happening when they don’t ask?

Just once, I would like to be asked about how it feels. I would never want anyone to feel the anxiety that comes from being unable to catch their breath.

I would never wish them to feel the terror I do when my lungs fail me, but I would like to be acknowledged. Maybe they don’t care to know, or perhaps they are not brave enough to ask for fear of finding out the truth.

It isn’t easy to watch, but I think it is a question I would ask because I would want to know. Saying it out loud helps.

It is cathartic, and if only someone listened, I would be happy to tell them.

Blame, guilt, and unfair consequences

Some people could be feeling guilt every time they look at me. After all, they smoked as much as I did or perhaps more and loved it the way I did, but they didn’t get caught.

They have not had to pay for their sins the way I do every day. In spite of that, many will still point the finger at me and say that I made my bed, and now I should lie in it!

This attitude is far from playing fair and should not be tolerated.

Living life on my own terms

It is up to me to live my life in a fashion that I approve of and do my best for myself. Regardless of what others think or feel, I still have a good life and am entitled to be heard.

When people don’t ask, I won’t tell.

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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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