Mental health and severe/brittle asthma - Asthma UK communi...

Asthma UK community forum

16,541 members21,115 posts

Mental health and severe/brittle asthma


I saw my asthma psychiatrist yesterday. I completely love her (not in the crazy creepy patient falls in love with their dr kind of way just in that she's so lovely and good at her job) .

When I first started going to the respiratory dept at queen Alexandra in Portsmouth and they said I had to see her as a holistic approach to managing my asthma (Now i suspect they actually thought She would establish I wasn't taking my medication but tests and showing of side effects proved I was I just metabolise medication very quickly. Shame I can't metabolise fat in such a way hey) I was like "that will be one apt no way am I the type to sit and spill out my problems plus it's not bad enough that I need help"

How wrong I was. I had high levels of anxiety and I was genuinely grieving the loss of my job and life as I knew it. I worried constantly about the effect I was having on my kids and my family in general. I worried I was doing something wrong and it was my fault I was so ill. Or I was making it up in my head. But to me, it was something I had to deal with.

She helped me so much. I'm not going to tell you these problems have all gone away. Or it was easy. I have to work at it. Some days harder than others. But I understand them. I'm not alone. People might not get how it feels but they want to help you.

Some things she was quite blunt with. She said you are not making it up. I can show you scans and tests that shows all of us it's not your fault and so on. And at the time I felt a bit stupid like I'd been told off. but afterwards a big weight kind of lifted and I could see things a bit clearer .

Other things required me to talk it out and lead myself to answers and ways to help myself.

Yesterday we agreed I probably only need 3 more sessions. Which is sad because like I said I like her, but I walked out of there and I walked taller. I have worked through something I was so determined could not be done and I didn't need help for.

I am writing this because I think sometimes we trivialise asthma as a society. It makes us think our illness isn't that bad and so all the problems associated with it aren't genuine. You know what? Yes sometimes asthma is mild or well controlled and sufferers can lead a relatively healthy life I'm not going to say that it's a walk in the park for even those people though having a cold or being in contact with an allergin can be a nightmare, in general they can do the stuff they want to do.

But sometimes it isn't like that. I can't walk up the stairs or have a shower some days. I end up in resus a lot and then in wards with older ladies who smoked for 50 years. I'm 31 and never smoked. It feels unfair I shouldn't have to be there. But I am because what I'm suffering with, It's serious. And when it seeps into every part of your life because these days are more often than not it's genuinely life destroying and heart breaking. The medication we take can have absolutely horrific side effects. I have to sit and force myself to take my steroids some days. I feel sick at the thought of them because I know they are causing me so many problems. Then do you know what I feel? I feel guilty I feel that way because other have to deal with so much worse medication and side effects. And they do, but that doesn't make my feelings on what I am dealing with wrong.

Sorry for a long ramble but I spent probably more than 2 years torturing myself and thinking I needed to deal with it on my own. I was lucky I was kind of forced into getting help. I know not everyone is that lucky. If you are struggling please please ask for help. It doesn't have to be as hard as it is. Or even if it is you don't have to deal alone. I know it's cliche that asking is the hardest part but I get that it is. And starting to talk is also the hardest part. But you willl get through the other side and they might not make your illness go away, or even your problems but you will know how to deal with them and I would hope it will make your life so much happier.


9 Replies

I also wrote this post on my blog (which is mainly me whinging on) I hope no one minds


Very moving. Thank you for sharing.

Oh god I read your post and I understood word for word what you were writing and why you were writing it. I have the exact same experience and have probably written the exact same account. You are not alone and everything you feel is the same for me, and no doubt many other non-smoking asthma sufferers who continually are told "Do you smoke?" "your just anxious" are you worrying about anything?" .... the list is endless. The worst one is - well your obs are fine, and your chest is clear.... arghhhhh........ I argued these points until I too was referred to a respiratory counsellor who helped me to work through my issues, which were obvious to everyone else except me. Loss of ability to work, loss of being needed, loss of a very good friend, and the possibility of losing my marriage. It was just a vicious circle that I had to get my head round yes - but I also needed the "help' of my husband and kids too.

I'm glad to say it all came good. Thats not to say I'm fixed either. Infact atm I have nasty chest infection which has set me back. but - on the whole as long as I can stay relatively calm and not get involved in the problems of other family members - hell I'm a mam, this what mam's do.! haha anyway. life is a lot better. We have lot to thank these lovely counsellors for and I for one am very proud of myself for the progress I and my family have made.

i hope you feel better for writing your feelings down. It helps, it really does.

Take care love kimmy

Thank you for writing this. I have had asthma all my life but something went totally wrong last May and I've had all sorts of problems. Now. Even diagnosed with severe asthma and been on 40mg of pred for the last year. Everything you have written rings so true the guilt over my children and husband. I'm 33 and had so much time off work and trying to hold it together. With the help of a really close friend I have now asked for help to discuss things and have a telephone assessment this Friday with a psychologist. I am nervous about it but know that it needs to be done. Posts like yours make me and others I'm sure realise that the link between the two is normal. Hope you are well at the moment. Xx

Bless you. That was very moving. I'm glad your feeling much stronger and the therapy has helped you. Xx

I just wanted to say, I'm 19 and have brittle asthma and although it's not the thing which is stopping me living life right now (cluster headaches..grr) it is the thing which pops up and tries to kill me every few months. It also affects me at hockey: I play ice hockey and although every session is a real battle between me and my lungs -- my chest burns and I can't breathe and I have to stop every few minutes to gasp on my inhaler and tell myself "you've got this, you've got this" -- I still go 3 times a week (not counting games).

I am lucky in that most times this doesn't progress so even though it's very painful and can be scary and embarrassing, thankfully I don't usually end up in hospital from that. I really feel for people who have it worse than me and would end up in hospital every time if they tried doing what I do. So I know I'm lucky. But my God do I wish I could just play like everyone else on my teams, instead of having to fight my lungs to do the one thing I truly love.

Quite frankly, f*!k this.

Bless you for posting, very moving.

Thank you for all the lovely replies guys. I just figured the more we share about the harder to talk to parts of living with an illness like asthma the less alone we all might help others feel. I mean this in absolutely the most respectful way but asthma isn't an illness that is considered as life effecting as others. But it's effected every part of my life and even destroyed some parts. And yet I didn't think I needed or deserved help to handle all that and the fact that steroids amped my anxiety to the absolute max.

I feel so sad anyone else might be feeling that way as well. If sharing this can help even just one person then I would feel like I've don't something good.


Hi cconsta1,

I'm incredibly sorry to hear about what you went through. Just know you are not alone.

I am actually writing an article about asthma and mental health because I believe it is a very important issue that does is not spoken about enough.

I was wondering if I could receive your permission to include a quote from yourself about how asthma has impacted your life. I think it is very important that we eliminate the stigma surrounding asthma, because like you said, the condition can be trivialized by society.

Here is the link to the blog:

Thank you so much,


You may also like...