COPD journey: From Fear to Control

COPD journey: From Fear to Control

You might feel that COPD has taken a lot away from you, and that your life – as you knew it – is gone. So, what do you do about this – about feelings that are getting in the way of you having your best possible life with COPD? In this series of blogposts, we’re looking at seven common emotions found in life with COPD, and finding pathways to help you begin to work through them so you can go forward to live your best possible life with COPD!
Emotional issue #2: Fear
“Knowing I have COPD scares me. A lot. I’ve always been a strong person so I can’t let anybody know how frightening this is for me.”
Wow, that’s a lot to cope with – having a progressive, currently incurable lung disease and being frightened about what comes next, while trying to stay strong and calm for your loved ones. That’s a whole lot to deal with!

Ask yourself...
“Have I ever been fearful or afraid related to my COPD?”
If so, what is my specific fear?
Am I afraid...

  • If I go out, I might have a breathing attack?
  • I’ll get a cold that turns into pneumonia and have to be admitted to the hospital?
  •  I’ll get sick and go “downhill” and never gain back what I’ve lost?
  • Afraid for my loved ones if something should happen to me?
  • Something else?

It’s Normal
Before we go any further, it’s important to know that it’s normal to be scared about having COPD and the feelings it may bring on. Give yourself a minute to let that sink in.

“Okay, so it’s normal for me to be scared. What now?”

Well, a big part of these fears is feeling like things are out of your control. But when you learn about COPD and how it's possible to manage it, you will be more in control, have less fear, and more confidence to go forward and live your best possible quality of life.

Fear vs. Concern
There’s a difference between being fearful and being concerned. Being concerned about something can be good. It shows that you’re giving thought to what’s going on. And once you know what’s going on, you can use what you’ve learned to make things better. When you do this, you’re changing your fear and lack of control to action and hopefully taking control of the problem. Here are two examples of common fears and how learning to manage your COPD effectively can help.


COMMON FEAR: “I’m afraid I’ll get out in public and have a breathing attack.”

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN: Using the right breathing techniques, and doing them correctly, can go a long way in helping you move more air in and out of your lungs and stay in control of your breathing. Watch our videos on instagram to learn different breathing techniques that can help you gain better control.

COMMON FEAR: “I’m afraid I’ll have a COPD exacerbation (a period of worsened symptoms, usually due to a respiratory infection), get pneumonia, go downhill, and never fully recover to where I was before that exacerbation.”

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN: If you know about early warning signs of a possible COPD exacerbation and work with your doctor to stop those symptoms before they get worse, you have a much better chance of staying well, staying home, and keeping on living your life. You can also get timely flu shot and pneumonia vaccines to prevent severe infections.

This is not to say that if you learn about managing COPD, you will float through the rest of your life with unicorns and rainbows, but it does mean that you’ll have a much better chance of being prepared, more in control, and much less fearful.

No doubt about it. COPD is a progressive, currently incurable lung disease – and who wouldn’t be scared about that?  But if you know what to do, you can manage it. There’s a lot to learn, and it takes some time. We’ve just scratched the surface here. But, you know what? You can do it! Your knowledge is your power. You no longer have to fear COPD.
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
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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 or anxiety, contact an authorized medical or behavioral health provider.