Why mornings became difficult after my COPD diagnosis

There are many resources to help address depression due to COPD

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by Caroline Gainer |

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is cruel in that it can cause some of our good habits to be replaced with bad ones. For instance, my mornings used to be very productive, but after COPD turned my life upside down, mornings became a struggle, and I no longer looked forward to the day ahead.

Eventually, I reached out for help and found several ways to manage the fatigue and depression that resulted from living with COPD. Hopefully, some of these solutions can be helpful to other patients.

Mornings prior to COPD

Before I was diagnosed with COPD in 2013, I used to jump out of bed, run to the kitchen, start the coffee, and throw on my clothes. After brushing my teeth and hair and applying makeup, I was ready to challenge the world. I was a lean, mean working machine and rarely sat down except to eat. I was on the go for 16 hours a day or more. COPD changed all of that.

Mornings after COPD

After developing COPD, I’d wake up some mornings and say, “I don’t want to get up yet,” and then go back to sleep. While there were many things I could still physically do, I often had no desire to do most of them. However, I didn’t have help with housework, so most days, I’d harass myself into doing something. The fact that I got extraordinarily little done accelerated my self-loathing. This in turn led to a deep funk, and all I wanted to do was sleep.

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Finding solutions

On one of those dark days, I decided to take advantage of the virtual counseling sessions offered by my health insurance plan. During my first meeting with a counselor, she determined that I wasn’t clinically depressed, but rather was suffering from situational depression, which was a relief.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Clinical depression is the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn’t the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition.”

I found the sessions so helpful in managing everyday issues that I have continued with them. My counselor helps me stay focused.

The second solution I found was the COPD Foundation, which provides numerous resources. After reading an article on the foundation’s website that addresses living and coping with COPD, I recognized that I was experiencing the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I read more articles and determined that the nonprofit was a class act.

I joined the COPD Foundation’s online community, COPD360social, and was so impressed that I decided to get involved with the organization, along with the American Lung Association.

One of my education professors once told me that if in all my years of teaching I could advocate for one student, I would be a success. Little did I know that one day, I would end up advocating for adults as well.

There’s something very invigorating about helping others avoid the struggles I’ve faced. Telling scared patients that COPD is not a death sentence helps reinforce that knowledge in my own mind. Telling them that there are ways to slow disease progression reminds me to eat well, get enough rest, exercise, keep a positive mental attitude, take my medications, avoid exacerbations, and just keep on keepin’ on.

Exercising and regaining the strength I’d lost during my pity party was another important practice that helped me get out of bed each morning. As one of my dear COPD friends would say, I got over myself and started looking to others.

Mornings now

After taking all of these steps to overcome my feelings of depression and get more involved in the COPD community, my mornings started to look different. Nowadays, I wake up and get out of bed, feed the cat and dog, and make coffee. I take my medicine with applesauce to make it go down more delightfully and use my maintenance inhaler. Then I get dressed, brush my hair and teeth, and apply makeup. At this point, I’m ready for my day, which is now only 14 hours long and includes multiple breaks.

I may be moving more slowly these days, but I now look forward to each day instead of dreading it.

Note: COPD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of COPD News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.