My COPD support system helps me avoid negative thought patterns

Finding friends I can be open and honest with is imperative

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by Caroline Gainer |

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I recently posted in COPD360social, the COPD Foundation’s online community, that I’ve been requiring more sleep than usual. That represents a change in thinking for me. Normally, I would’ve told myself, “Get up. What’s wrong with you? Are you going to sleep your life away?” Or, “Get up and get the stink blown off you; you’ll feel better.”

These thought patterns do not lead to satisfactory results for those of us with conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). I may need another cup of ambition some days, but I must not ignore signs of an oncoming exacerbation. One of those signs is needing more sleep than usual.

Another saying that I’ve personally found egregious is that you shouldn’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Although this encourages me to keep pushing myself, it can also lead to me doing too much. The latter is common for me, so I must take steps to guard against overexertion.

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Hope for a better tomorrow keeps me happy today

Turning to my support system

My post on the COPD360social page reflects my comfort level with this group. We all need people with whom we can be painfully honest, people who won’t judge or jump to conclusions. In the workplace, I was always afraid that someone would think I was lazy.

I included other information pertinent to my situation in the post, such as having swollen lymph nodes in the back of my neck and being able to hear drainage in my ear. I knew from experience and my COPD action plan that I needed to take it easy and carefully monitor my symptoms.

I also shared these issues with a friend from the COPD Foundation who suggested I go to the doctor immediately. My friends at the foundation are calm and collected and don’t panic over such information. It’s imperative to have people who won’t overreact in these situations.

Sometimes I just need to hear myself say something aloud. The other person doesn’t need to provide any advice or information; they only have to listen. Active listening is an important skill that’s not readily found in the general population, I’ve noticed.

We all need a support system that can help us steer clear of harmful thought patterns. My friend is a part of mine, as is the COPD Foundation. I can say how I feel without fear of reprisal.

I am training to be a peer coach because I want to be part of that support system for someone else.

Are you a part of someone’s support system? Or do you have your own? Please share in the comments below. 

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.