Finding a Way to Address Mental Health Setbacks

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by Jen Cueva |

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Lately, I’ve realized I’m in a funk and don’t know how long I’ve been going through this season of my life. I feel overwhelmed. But is it connected to my cross-country move last year? Or perhaps I continue to struggle after recovering from COVID-19. 

I love the Southern California weather, and I can be outdoors all year and enjoy nature’s beauty. What’s wrong then, you ask? I don’t know, and that’s OK, too. Sometimes life is overwhelming, and we can’t pinpoint what’s pushing us near the edge. 

I’m the type of person who wants to support others while often hiding my own emotions and feelings. That’s not to say I’m not emotional, but I tend to hold back my feelings for a long time until everything comes gushing out all at once, like a waterfall — minus the serenity. 

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‘Wine Down’ and Join Me in Promoting Self-care

After PHighting for my life with pulmonary hypertension (PH) for more than 17 years, adjusting to new norms, and ultimately redefining myself, I’ll admit that I’m a different person today than I once was. I find that now I can easily grow anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated, and angered. Sometimes this change causes me to hurt the ones I love most. 

I feel a gnawing inside me that I tried to decipher and put aside, but it continued to bother me. It is near my heart, but not like the chest pains, palpitations, and heaviness that PH causes me to experience. This is different, but what the heck is it? 

My entire life, I’ve thought of myself as a genuinely good person who tries to make the best decisions, although at times, as my family will tell you, I’ve fallen short. That’s OK; we all do. I’m human. What we do afterward is what matters most.

But how can we do what’s best when we have no idea what it is? What if the world around us feels like it’s closing in on us every day? 

The other day, I was having difficulty with self-motivation. No matter what I tried to refocus my energy on, I failed. My brain fog and confusion increased, which only set me back more. When my husband, Manny, returned from work, he asked what was wrong. I fell apart, tears streaming down my face. 

The next day, I called my mom in Texas. She was there with other family members celebrating high school and college graduations. When she asked how I was doing, I fell apart again. I told her that I’ve messed up so many times in my life, and I regret things I can’t go back and undo.

She reminded me that we all mess up — it’s part of life. I said I feel like I’m not doing enough, and I don’t feel I’ve accomplished much in almost 50 years. At times, I don’t like the person I’ve become. But why? 

Yes, I’ve changed through the years, but why can’t things be like they were before? What will happen in the future? 

Due to this ongoing struggle, I accepted that I needed more help. My primary care physician suggested I see a psychiatrist, but I didn’t think it was necessary at the time. Nevertheless, I made an appointment. Talk about anxiety!

The psychiatrist told me my anxiety was out of control. Additionally, my brain fog and lack of concentration were lingering after I had COVID-19. But the psychiatrist had a plan. While I wasn’t too keen about it initially, we agreed to start new medications at the lowest doses for a month. 

I owe it to my mental health to give it a try. Plus, I want some of my old self back. Mental health has affected all aspects of my life. But with PH and my other coexisting illnesses, the psychiatrist said, I have more on my plate than I realize. She was attentive and wanted to help me feel my best overall.

So it looks like I have a new player on my medical care team. Taking care of my mental health is critical, and I’m proud of myself for seeking help. Here’s to climbing out of this hole. 

If you are struggling with mental health challenges, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has helpful resources on its website. 

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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


Cathy Brown avatar

Cathy Brown

Big hug to you, Jen, and I'm glad you're getting help. I've been treated for depression and anxiety most of my life, so I know all about psychiatrists and meds. I hope you start feeling happier soon. You've given so much encouragement to me in just the short time I've been on the forums. You are making such a difference, and I want you to know that.

Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Hi Cathy, thanks so much for your kind words of encouragement. You're so thoughtful, and I'm delighted that you find the forums encouraging. Our members, like you, are what makes the forums the best.

I appreciate you reading my column and sharing your experience and support, my PHriend. It's always easier to relate to those who have been there.

Take care of yourself.

- Jen


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