You probably never fully appreciated your health until you had to face the fact that you now have pulmonary fibrosis and that it is not going away. You feel angry and depressed. It is hard to get beyond the question "Why me?" How can you learn to cope more successfully with your condition?
Effects of Chronic Illness
Once past the shock and despair, people with chronic illnesses often find that their condition requires that they live healthier, more health-conscious lives.
People commonly work through what Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has identified as the five stages of adjustment as they learn to accept a chronic illness. There are feelings of grief, powerlessness, and fear. This is natural as you move through the stages. There is no fixed time schedule for your passage through the stages of adjustment, and many times the stages overlap. This means you won't be able to say, "Now I'm done with depression; next, I'm going to do bargaining." Sometimes you may feel you are experiencing several of the stages at once. This, too, is a normal part of one's progress towards the final stage of acceptance.
The Five Stages of Acceptance
1. Denial. You are not ready to deal with the loss of your good health, so you deny your illness. You may feel that the doctor got the wrong lab report. You deny the seriousness of the condition; you're not going to let it concern you. This denial can take a dangerously defiant form. Statements like, "I'm going to eat, exercise and take or not take my medications just as I please!" mustn't become rules of behavior. Teenage diabetics are often great deniers of their condition and can get themselves into serious trouble if adults do not intervene.
2. Anger. You're mad at everything and everyone. "I've paid my dues, had my yearly checkups, and went to church on Sundays. It isn't fair!" People around you seem to go on as if your problem doesn't exist, and that makes you mad. Or, worse yet, they hover around you, telling you how to live your life, acting as if you already have one foot in the grave. If you stay in this stage, you'll become bitter, and people will begin to avoid you.
3. Depression. The problem really hits you. You cry, feel sorry for yourself and generally give up. You find no joy in anything. Sorrow can lead to depression and hopelessness. These feelings can become self-destructive.
4. Bargaining. You make a last attempt at reaching a compromise with reality. "If I only overeat on weekends, that won't be too bad." "If I give more to charity, I won't have another heart attack." The danger of remaining in this stage is due to the fact that chronic illnesses don't make deals and don't accept bribes.
5. Acceptance. Having gone through the previous four stages, you now accept your illness as part of your self, a reality to be lived with, not escaped. You recognize that your best chance for future happiness lies in your understanding of your condition, and your disciplined commitment to its control.
When you have been diagnosed with IPF you will have a period of difficulty adjusting and coping. It may even take over your life. You may develop post-traumatic stress disorder. (PTSD) Getting treatment or counseling as soon as possible after post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms develop is really important. The National Institutes of Health has a great piece on this at their website.
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
Signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder typically begin within three months of a traumatic event. In a small number of cases, though, PTSD symptoms may not occur until years after the event.
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms are commonly grouped into three types: intrusive memories, avoidance and numbing, and increased anxiety or emotional arousal (hyper arousal).
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
Symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing may include:
Symptoms of anxiety and increased emotional arousal may include:
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can come and go. You may have more post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms during times of higher stress or when you experience reminders of what you are going through.
When to see a doctor
Always contact a doctor or seek counsel when you feel it’s getting out of control.
"One of the things I learned the hard way was it does not pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and
making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself."
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."