Last Sunday, I thudded up the stairs to my apartment, making as much noise as possible, unlocked the door forcefully, and slammed it behind me. As soon as I entered, I rummaged through my cupboard, frantically looking for a medicine cup. I raised my voice at my boyfriend, asking him, “Why didn’t you clean out the medicine cup that I asked you to find?”
As I looked around, filled with anger, I saw the trash that needed to be thrown out, dishes that needed to be cleaned, and a table that was housing more prescriptions than plates. I focused on the mess that was in front of me, picking it apart and complaining about everything I could.
This fit of rage wasn’t because of the trash, which only consisted of a few containers of leftovers from the night before. It wasn’t about my boyfriend not cleaning out the medicine cup after I told him to find it. My anger didn’t have anything to do with the dishes that were waiting to be washed in the sink.
Hours before I entered my house, I was in my care clinic getting an X-ray, only to be told that I had developed pneumonia and bronchitis. I was projecting my frustration and the hurt I felt within my own body. I was feeling exhausted, breathless, and trapped by my illness. Instead of airing out the hurt I was feeling inside and the mental pain it was causing, I lashed out at the insignificant annoyances that were in front of me.
After being told I was sick, I was at war within my own mind. I thought about all the things I had been doing lately. I was overwhelmed with “what-if” scenarios. My racing mind left me wondering whether I had been pushing my body too hard. I started to self-blame and criticize my every move. Convincing myself that I was at fault seemed easier than accepting the reality that the situation was beyond my control.
What my body decides to do hour to hour, or even minute to minute, isn’t any fault of my own. Yet, fighting for control over my body is something I do on a daily basis. Being diagnosed with pneumonia made me feel anxious, angry, and disappointed. When I came home feeling defeated and worn down, I turned these feelings outward and projected them onto things that were insignificant. I wasn’t touching on the deeper emotions and the physical hurt.
In the midst of these fits, it is hard to catch myself acting this way. Usually, it takes someone calling me out on my behavior in order for me to stop and really address what is going on. I give those closest to me, including my boyfriend, family, friends, and even some members of my medical team, credit for the patience they have with me. Actually stopping to reflect on how I’m feeling, crying it out, and just walking away to give myself space to clear my head really helps me through these difficult moments.
It’s usually best if others just let me release my anger, even if that means incessantly complaining about dirty dishes, rummaging through bags under the sink, taking out the trash, and stomping down the stairs. I have always projected my physical pain and mental struggles. It’s a way to release my emotions without actually talking about what is truly bothering me.
It’s never OK to stay in this mindset. Having others to talk to and to help me express my physical and mental hurt in a healthy way is what I really need. Sometimes, I just need to complain about the unwashed medicine cup before I reach that point.
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.