Having a chronic disease, such as pulmonary fibrosis, is not easy. Not only do you have to deal with the physical aspects of your condition, but there can also be emotional issues as well. It’s common for people with a chronic disease to experience a wide range of emotions. It’s helpful to understand why those feeling may occur and what you can do to cope. Learning how to manage your feelings can help improve your overall wellbeing.
Why the Flood of Emotions?
Even if you’re well adjusted, centered and realistic, it can be a blow to be diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. It’s not uncommon to find your emotions all over the place. Remember, everyone is different, and you may not experience every emotion listed. But some common feelings that may develop include:
- Anger: Don’t be surprised if you feel angry or frustrated. It’s normal to wonder why this happened to you or feel it’s unfair. Maybe you’re mad at the way your lung disease has disrupted your life.
- Guilt: Guilt may also start to surface. You might feel guilty if you can’t do what you used to and certain tasks fall to family members. It’s also common to worry about becoming a burden to your loved ones.
- Depression: Another common emotion you may feel if you have been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis is depression. It’s normal to feel sad over the loss of your health or possible activities you can no longer do.
- Anxiety: Chronic disease also often causes anxiety. It’s common to worry about the life changes you are experiencing or wonder what the future will hold.
Coping with Your Feelings
It’s clear that dealing with a chronic disease can elicit a variety of emotions. But there are things you can do to cope with your feelings in a positive way.
Be honest with yourself: Denial is a powerful coping strategy but in the long run you have to confront your physical illness and acknowledge your emotions. Feeling sad or angry or frustrated does not mean that you are weak.
Talk about how you feel: Burying your feelings and trying to get through it alone is not your best strategy when it comes to dealing with a chronic illness. Whether you talk with a partner, friend or a counselor, it can be helpful to express your feelings and help you process everything.
Educate yourself: Learning more about pulmonary fibrosis from reputable sources, such as your pulmonologist, can be helpful. Some fears about PF may be due to a lack of knowledge or the wrong information.
Consider a support group: Sometimes talking with someone who is going through the same thing can be helpful. Joining a support group for people with chronic lung disease may help you feel understood and give you a sense of comradery. If you are interested in a support group for people with lung disease, your pulmonologist may be able to help you locate one in your area.
Do something that recharges your spirit every day: Having to deal with a chronic disease can deplete your emotional reserves. Mix in family responsibilities, employment and everyday hassles of life, and it’s no wonder you might feel overwhelmed. Make it a priority to find ways to relax and recharge. Whether it’s listening to music, journaling or spending time with your family and friends, do what works for you.
Manage what is within your control: If you have pulmonary fibrosis, you may feel a lack of control. As your lung disease progresses there will be physical activities that become increasingly difficult. Accept help graciously when you need it. You control your outlook and the tone of your interactions with friends and family. Be engaged in your healthcare.
This article was co-written by Dr. Jeremy Feldman and MaryAnn DePietro, B.S. CRT