I shouldn’t have to fight so hard to live with COPD

Emotional fatigue is part of what makes it hard for me to do what I must do

Caroline Gainer avatar

by Caroline Gainer |

Share this article:

Share article via email
Main banner for Caroline Gainer's column,

Do you suffer from emotional fatigue? I do.

Mayo Clinic describes emotional exhaustion or emotional fatigue as accumulated stress from challenging events. The symptoms can be physical or emotional. I believe most of us felt a degree of this fatigue because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which set off feelings of isolation and depression. Unfortunately, there’s been a recent uptick in cases of COVID-19, and I’m still hesitate to leave the house.

Many of us with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) already find the disease to be isolating; the pandemic just made it worse. Thankfully, some of us can use modern technology, like Zoom and FaceTime, to keep in touch with friends and relatives.

I don’t know all the ways that emotional fatigue has affected me, but I take measures to lessen the physical symptoms and have found some success. Some measures aren’t available to me, though. Mayo Clinic, for instance, suggests that those of us with emotional exhaustion get rid of the stressors in our lives. That sounds like good advice, but I can’t cure my COPD.

Recommended Reading
mesenchymal stem cell therapy | COPD News Today | megaphone illustration

FDA warns AstraZeneca about false or misleading claims for Breztri

Taking necessary steps

Many mornings, I struggle to get out of bed. I may need to get up to attend a meeting, do housework, or make contacts, but sometimes I end up going back to sleep. I know it’s my choice, but emotional exhaustion makes it difficult.

Exercise is one of the best ways to improve my mood, but some days I just don’t want to do it. Skipping one day might be OK, but with me that can lead to two, which can lead to three, and so on. My struggle thus continues. I’ve learned that it helps to keep myself accountable, sometimes by using Fitbit to keep track of my exercise days.

Some days my struggle with emotional fatigue is intense and some days it’s easier, but every day I struggle. And that’s even though I feel my life is important and that I’m helping others. If I can conquer the negative and get moving, I’m almost always glad that I did.

Life with struggle can be beautiful

You may think only someone depressed can see struggle as beautiful and that I need a therapist. I do see a therapist, but I don’t have clinical depression. Instead, I have COPD and emotional exhaustion.

These conditions make me struggle, but I want to live. How would you deal with waking up in the morning and being too tired to want to get up? What if you do skip that one day, then two days, then three because of your exhaustion? You may not feel rested, but you say to yourself, “I can’t go on like this, so I’m getting up, changing my attitude, and accomplishing something today.”

You vow to resume that exercise routine because you know it’ll improve your energy level. You renew your work to help find a cure and do all you can to serve the COPD Foundation, American Lung Association, and many smaller groups across the world that can help make life more enjoyable for COPD patients.

I draw my strength from my many friends at the COPD Foundation. I cannot let them down and give up. That’s one of the reasons I try to overcome my emotional exhaustion.

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.