COPD journey: Feeling alone and lonely

COPD journey: Feeling alone and lonely

You might feel that COPD has taken a lot away from you and that your life—as you knew it—is gone. So, what can you do about feelings that are getting in the way of you having your best possible life with COPD?

In this series of blogposts, we look at seven common emotions found in life with COPD. We find pathways to help you begin to work through them so you can go forward, confident and empowered.
Different kinds of loneliness
There are different kinds of loneliness. The one we’re going to look at today is what we’ll call Loneliness/Alone-ness. This is when you feel alone because you don’t know anybody else with COPD, wondering if you’re the only person who has it. You might also feel alone even if there are people around seems they don’t have any idea of what it’s like to live with COPD.
The other kind of loneliness has to do with isolation, which is when you are physically alone, you tend to stay at home, not go out, and rarely have visitors. (We’ll talk about isolation in an upcoming blogpost in this series.)
Emotional issue #4: Loneliness/Alone-ness
“I’m all alone. I must be the only one who has COPD. I don’t see anyone else who has it. Others can’t possibly know what it’s like to be so short of breath.”

Does this sound familiar?

Do you ever feel like you’re the only one with COPD?

Have you ever felt, or do you still feel, like nobody understands what you’re going through?

It’s normal to feel sometimes like you’re the only person with COPD. Some people with COPD stay at home and never go out. So, although they’re out there, you may feel alone because you don’t see them.
Or maybe even though others are right there with you – good people who you know love you – you might still feel that nobody can possibly understand what you’re going through. And to be fair, if a person doesn’t have COPD and live with shortness of breath every day, that’s right, they can’t completely understand.
It can get better
So, let’s see…you have COPD, you have trouble breathing, you don’t know anybody else who has it, and nobody understands what you’re going through. That might sound like a hopeless situation, but wait… there are things you can do to make things better! Here are some suggestions you can start on today.  
Getting to know others and informing loved ones
There are millions of people with COPD. They live with it every day and they understand. Get to know them. Check with your local hospital and ask if they have a pulmonary rehabilitation program in person or online. If they don’t, ask to speak to their respiratory therapy department and find out where the nearest pulmonary rehab is. Ask also if there is a local breathing support group in person or online. You can also do a Google search for “pulmonary rehabilitation” or “breathing support group near (the name of your city or town).”

Facebook and the COPD Foundation have great online support groups. Each one is a bit different from the others – find the best one for you. There are also harmonica groups in person and online for people who have trouble breathing. (Don't worry, everyone is welcome and you don't have to know anything about music!) The COPD Foundation has a live support-harmonica group that meets every month.
Educate your loved ones about COPD. Invite them to join you at a support group meeting, pulmonary rehab, or harmonica session. Your loved ones want to help you in the best way possible. Sometimes they just don’t know how. You can show them.
It can hurt to be lonely. It can make you feel sad when you’re lonely. And when you have COPD, there’s already enough hurt and sadness. But it really helps to know you’re not alone. Connecting with others and helping your loved ones learn about COPD can help!
Copyright ©2023 Jane M. Martin
This series of blogposts is based on the “Take Back Your Life” Framework and the “Take Back Your Life” Framework Companion Guide: Pathways to Helping You Live Your Best Life with COPD, and Live Your Life with COPD – 52 Weeks of Health, Happiness, and Hope by Jane M. Martin, BA, CRT.  Discount code: LYLPEPBuddy10
“Live Your Life with COPD” on Facebook

This blogpost is not intended as medical advice or to take the place of an authorized medical or behavioral health provider. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or other emotional issues, contact an authorized medical or behavioral health provider.