Emotional side effects: I haven’t... - Asthma UK communi...

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Emotional side effects


I haven’t posted on here for ages but I’m finding the emotional side effects of my asthma attack difficult to deal with and could do with some advice/someone to tell me I’m totally normal! 😂

I find I get upset once I start to recover, a paramedic once told me it’s a good sign because when I’m having an attack I’m in flight or fight mode so my emotions switch off but when they come back it’s a sign I’m recovering.

Well today, after spending most of my afternoon and evening in A&E I keep crying. Usually I can pull myself out of it but I can’t shake it off today, maybe I’m being too hard on myself. I know it’s a combination of tiredness, the attack itself, medication and hormones but I just feel upset and restless, hence why I’m on here and not sleeping. Had to have that horrible blood gas test which always makes me feel yuck and slightly wimpy and I’ve had magnesium which I find is great for my breathing but it wrecks havoc on my emotions.

Luckily, I have a very supportive partner but as it is still a relatively new relationship he’s still getting used to the recovery side of things and the ups and downs and I don’t know what to do with me, so with the best will in the world, he won’t.

Like I said any advice/someone to reassure me this is perfectly normal/an understanding ear, would be greatly appreciated.

19 Replies

Hi RD23 you aren't alone in this the emotional side of recovery can be hard. I am recovering this week from an asthma attack on Saturday/Sunday in the wee hours. I ended up in A&e and the first time was given a neubliation. At the time I went into deal with it mode like I always do. Afterwards when I got home razz I still was dead it mode, It was only Monday and yesterday when I came down off that feeling did I realise how emotional it had been for me.

Being emotional afterwards in the recovery stage is always different in the way I feel. I think this depends on when and how it happened. This time waking up with asthma getting worse and it being the wee small hours. Then the experience of just going to A&e is hard and the time spend there nearly 6 hours. Wishing I hadn't had to keep my husband up all night in an uncomfortable chair. Sunday morning coming home to mothers day but it wasn't that bad in the end as my daughters made me a special afternoon tea help me emotionally recover that day.

All of these feelings that I described and what you said is normal. Don't be ashamed or guilty or blame yourself, beating yourself up about it I.e should have taken more care of myself.

Lastly why don't you talk to asthma UK helpline see asthmauk.org . The nurses on here are not just there for just helping you with the mechanics of asthma but the emotional side too. Look at asthma UK recovery page on how you feel after an asthma attack.

I hope this really helps you know that what you feel and have felt is not uncommon.

in reply to elanaoali

Yes thank you. Hope your are feeling better soon and are on the road to recovery.

Think it’s just got me down as my asthma appeared to be improving but I had an attack two weeks ago and now this one so I feel like I’m back at square one. I’m under a specialist who’s been brilliant and has added spiriva (think that’s how you spell it) to my medication which has been helping.

I just end up feeling bad for my partner, my parents or whoever has to rescue me from A&E as I hate feeling like I’m taking them away from what they should be doing.

Like you say, it also depends on the nature of the attack to how emotional I am, I’ve been a lot worse but I don’t think it helped that I felt like I wasn’t being given the right treatment.

Thank you for your reply, it’s reassuring to know that other asthmatics experience the same thing. Hope you feel better soon.

You are completely normal sweetheart. I’m in the exact same boat. I got out of hospital yesterday and all day was on off crying. Don’t think people realise the amount of emotional strain it puts on our bodies. It takes me a very long time to get my emotions back on track and I thank my lucky stars I have an excellent respiratory nurse at the hospital. If you ever need to talk I’m here and I’m pleased you’re on the mend xx

in reply to Amyloulou

😊 thank you. Definitely, I think people only see/think about the physical strain but it’s mentally and emotionally draining as well, I also find the amount of medication I’ve had affects my emotions too.

Hope you are feeling better today and are on the mend and thank you, it’s reassuring to hear from other people going through the same.

in reply to RD23

Thank you I’m far from getting better but was discharged because they needed the bed. Steroids can make your emotions worse I was on them for 3 month last year and know one could say hello to me and I would bust out crying. It’s lovely to find people who know exactly how you are feeling if you find any tips on how to relieve your emotions please send them my way thank you and get well soon xx

EmmaF91Community Ambassador

Hi you’re completely normal!

I always get emotional after a bad attack, and whilst I usually managing to contain the tear until I’m home, I have had occasions where I’m crying in either a&e or in the middle of the night on the ward 😳😅. For me it’s usually caused a combination of tiredness, hydrocortisone/prednisolone and too many nebs, although the emotional fall out after life-threatening attacks is usually much greater.

As your paramedic friend says, in really severe attacks your body switches off your fight or flight mechanism (sympathetic nervous system), and turns to the ‘freeze’ response (parasympathetic nervous system usually used for rest and digest). This freeze response is your brain thinking it’s not going to recover, and so ‘feigns death’ (like a rabbit when caught by a fox) and causes you to dissociate slightly, calming you down for a ‘relaxed death’ and to try and trick the predator into releasing you (like that’s going to work with asthma 😂😅). When the docs then give you drugs and improve your breathing you then switch back into fight or flight mode and you go back to being aware and stressed (that rabbit survives and runs off).

Usually the big emotional fall out happens when your brain has time to regroup and realise how close to dying you came. It’s technically a form of PTSD which we then usually pull ourselves through in a few days/week with little help needed, and we become more weary/nervous of triggers etc for awhile (like the rabbit, nervous/scared to leave the burrow, then it does but it’s still scared, then it’s done it so often it doesn’t think about it any more).

With life-threatening attacks/near fatal attacks our brains will either over or under dramatise the memory of the event and its aftermath. For me I know I tend to underestimate how bad it was, but I’ve just had some fall out from an attack last summer because I only just found out that they were minutes away from incubating me before I slowly started to improve (this I don’t remember at all although I remember a discussion about ITU 🤷‍♀️) which got me thinking ‘s*** I did nearly die’ 😅.

My advise is to let it run it’s course. Crap TV/films, sleep, lots of comfort wherever you find it (friends/family/food 😂), and admit to yourself how bad you got but that you’re not that bad now!

Hope your breathing stays stable and that your mood start to improve soon, and that understanding one of the reasons your so upset help (at least you know it’s not you but your brains way of coping!). You are not alone! I’m here if you need to talk x

in reply to EmmaF91

Excellent summary of what goes on!

Thank you.

I’ve cried in the middle of A&E so many times and was shaking when the doctor came to do the blood gas test in my wrist as I hate that test, not that anyone would enjoy it!

I’m glad you’ve said that about the combination of medication as I always find that, especially after magnesium, it’s brilliant at getting rid of my wheeze but it knocks me about after.

Sorry to hear you’re feeling that way at the moment, I can remember sitting on the sofa for two days I a row and crying after a really bad allergic reaction where I thought I was going to die as my arms wouldn’t move because I had that little oxygen in my body at the time. Funny though how your body and mind soon trick you into forgetting and you get back to normal.

Thank you for your reassuring words and hope you feel better soon too.

Sorry to hear that, have you got a specialist you can get an appointment with?

I’m still working on finding out the best ways to recover emotionally. A good Netflix binge and just letting my emotions run the course is generally what I do. I have a tendency to push myself to get better though maybe sooner than I’m ready as I’m determined I won’t let it beat me. Probably something we all do or we’d never be able to recover. Physically, I find the only thing that gets rid of the ache in my ribs is lying in a hot bath.

Rest up and take it easy, here if you need any advice or someone to talk to.

Hi, sorry to hear you're having a tough time. You are perfectly normal. I agree with all the other posts in saying its really important to rest up and let your body recover. I liken having asthma to having a mugger inside our own bodies, we never know when its going to strike. Back in my teens I used to fight it tooth and nail and end up tipping myself into another attack. Now if one starts I immediately stop what I am doing, take reliever inhaler and if suspect allergen, strip clothes off and if not too wheezy bathe and wash/rinse hair. Take time out, watch rubbish films, TV etc. It is exhausting getting through a bad attack and your body as well as your mind needs to recover. Crying is good, I also find a good swearing session helpful but that depends on who is around at the time. Hope you feel better soon.

Hi RD23. As others have said don't feel bad. Having lived with asthma for 50 years I am still recovering from a 2wk hospital admission in Jan with 3days in ITU. At the time very hard on my family. In the last couple of weeks was readmitted and discovered I had developed Pulmonary Embolism s. I guess as family so distraught I had gone into overdrive and only this week accepted I had been seriously ill. I have a great team at the hospital and get great support from physio and psychologist.

It is normal to feel your a burden. And I keep saying just put me under the patio as some times it just feels like traditional g through treacle and disrupting everybodies life.

It doesn't help though that some medical staff perceive your upset state as an indication you are highly strung aNd distressedwhich leaves you feeling you have to convince them it's all just a bit of a shock..... That in itself can be tiresome.

Speak to your asthma team at hospital and ask them for support. It might not be great but it might also help.

Take care

in reply to Keithr24

Pulmonary Embolii ...? I have had two (eight years apart). If you have two, it'll be life-long anti-coags for you! My first was extraordinarily painful, the second one snuck up, made me unable to walk and I didn't know what it was. Predictably, I had problems with Warfarin, but fortunately there are now other anti-coags available. PEs are sneaky beggars, to be sure. Consultant said I obviously had a clotting disease, but went no further than that. It takes a while (6 - 8 weeks) to get over PEs, so take it easy.

in reply to Keithr24

Thank you and sorry to hear you’ve been so poorly.

A brilliant doctor in a different A&E did tell me I’m allowed to be anxious because asthmatics are human too! She was great and said she could understand why I was upset/anxious and that she appreciates some medical staff see it and make the wrong assumptions.

Hope you feel better soon

Been told on them for 6mths. Still painful to breathe and to sleep. But hey just another thing g to put up with

Hi, I've just read this post and sounds silly but I had a hospital stay this week due asthma exhabation and chest infection and came home and felt relieved and since yesterday and today just feel completely knocked out and crying. Not sure if it's the whole hospital visit, still not feeling great and not completely satisfied with treatment as still wheezy and coughing. Made to feel a bit fraudulent by the doctors as pf 350 and o2 95%. But you can hear the wheeze- with this the doctor said breathe through your nose- listened to my chest and said can't hear wheeze now!! But even when I breathe through nose I can still here the wheeze and so can my husband. I'm tired and fed up. Sorry for the rant. My work colleagues just think you take a puff of inhaler and hey presto your back to yourself!! Ggrrrr

in reply to Kempie132

Rant away. It is really frustrating and you feel like a fraud at times. No wonder we get emotionally drained.

My family keep arguing that I many not fit the Criteria but they know to look at me and in my eyes how I am.

This last trip the weekend doctor was about to discharge me. Glad the consultant was in who felt better to keep me..... Just as well as on the Monday into Tuesday was critical and ended up being put in ICU.

You know best how you feel. Don't give up

in reply to Kempie132

Totally agree with Keith, you know your condition better than anyone else.

I totally get the being made to feel like a fraud feeling; apart from one very bad allergic reaction where my SATS drooped to 70% they always stay at 100. I’ve been taken off nebulisers because of this despite the fact I have a very audible wheeze and am clearly struggling to breathe!

Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad because you’re not ‘text book asthmatic’ if there even is such a thing.

Some of my work colleagues are similar as people just don’t get how serious asthma can be. I get the, ‘it happens quite a lot doesn’t it’ comments and have to try hard to remember that it is their ignorance to the condition.

We’re all here if you ever need to rant, I’ve found it so reassuring over the last week to know there are people I can talk to who totally get what I’m going through.

Take care

I actually went into work this morning and I've come home as really not great- wheezy and pain under shoulder blade. Not helped by this weather. I've cried my way home as feel so flat and frustrated with this.. back to the doctors this morning !!

in reply to Kempie132

Sorry to hear you’re not well, this weather is totally rubbish for asthmatics!

I can understand how frustrated you are, I go into ‘Wonder Woman proving a point mode’ after I’ve been bad but then I do also know I have to be sensible and put my health first.

Hopefully your GP can get to the bottom of what’s going on.

Thinking of you as I totally get how you’re feeling xxx

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