Pulmonary Hypertension Taught Me the Folly of Being Scared
Let’s talk about fear and feeling scared.
That deep fear. The fear that’s in your marrow, bubbling under the surface. It’s always there. It’s been there ever since (insert the worst thing that’s ever happened to you). A death. Losing your job. A chronic illness diagnosis. The moment that happens to you, the fear appears. It’s big. It’s bold. And it’s ready to take over your life.
Suddenly, your world becomes smaller. Leaving the house seems impossible. Talking to people seems to take more energy than you have. Take a shower? HA! Why would I? What if I couldn’t breathe, and I passed out? Then what?
With fear comes anger. Anger toward people who can go to the grocery store, and go to work, and visit friends, and have a glass of wine with such ease. It’s so unfair and you’re angry and so unbelievably tired of being scared ALL THE TIME.
I lived in this zone, for many months. Pulmonary hypertension created a fear that I didn’t even know existed. My world became as small as the path from my bedroom to my kitchen. I stopped showering. I stopped eating. I laid around in my bathrobe, watching old movies and crying constantly. I seemed unable to break free.
Until one day, I had an “aha” moment, a moment that stopped me in my tracks. Suddenly my brain went, “You fool! You still have so much life to live! Do you want to waste it being afraid of what MIGHT happen? Be braver than that.” And there it was. None of us have any idea how long we have left on this earth. Did I want to waste what precious time I had left being afraid? Being angry? No. I refuse to let that be the end of my story.
Learning to live above the fear doesn’t happen overnight. You have to learn to take it slow. Shower, and trust you won’t pass out. Get dressed — in real clothes! Put away the yoga pants; break out the jeans. Go to the grocery store. Go to a friend’s house. Trust that your body, which has been through so much, has the ability to do this, too.
Try to let go of the anger, and jealousy of other people’s “normal lives.” We don’t know their stories. They most likely suffer in their own ways. Being angry and jealous won’t do anything but weigh YOU down.
That fear never will completely disappear. But instead of it being the driver of your life, it will become a backseat driver. And some days you may even leave fear in the dust of your tires, as you drive away.
You have the ability to make changes in your life. To live a happier life. A life not completely based around fear. Take it slow. One small step at a time. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Turn to people you trust to talk about your feelings and fear. I promise, people can relate (including me). Reach out. Tell me your fear, and how you overcame it.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News 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 Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.