British Lung Foundation
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How do you cope?

Hi there, this is probably a silly, self-pitying question. I live alone, no family and I'm finding it more and more difficult to cope, it's mainly fear, when I'm sat here not feeling great I start to get a feeling of immense fear and then panic starts to creep in. I sometimes think I may be better off not existing. I just wondered how other people deal with these sort of feelings, if they have them. My apologies for being so depressing. Take care, Richard.

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42 Replies

This is just a suggestion but is there a Breath Easy group near you ? If there is it may be a good idea to join. Meet new people who can also understand your illness.

Hi, I am a member of the local breathe easy group; it meets monthly March to November. I'm actually the voluntary press officer for them. I'm not really a very good advertisement for them when I feel like this, I feel like I'm letting them down.

Richard, there is no need for you to apologise. Your feelings are completely natural, and you aren't alone in feeling this way, especially this time of year. There are many people out there in the same situation as yourself. Being truthful, I cant help you myself but do sympathise. Best step is to visit your GP, and tell him/her your feelings. Or you could ring the nurse at 03000030555.

There are so many people in this forum who are so helpful and friendly. If you haven't so already, browse around and get to know them. Quite a bit of humour as well. Wishing you well, love from Annie80 xx

Hi Annie80, thanks for your reply. I have been on this community for a while and always found it helpful. The daft thing is, I graduated with a degree in psychology majoring in the psychosocial effects of COPD on quality of life! I'm also studying for a diploma in CBT. I'm already on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication so there's not much more my GP can do. Take care,Richard

Hi Richard, sometimes I think knowing TOO much about psychology and CBT stops us from being able to benefit from it! I don't know what stage you are at with your COPD but could you manage to volunteer for a local charity shop or something? My friend lives alone and can sometimes feel quite isolated and she volunteered to help at her local Scope shop, just 4 hours a week, and finds it really helpful. She explains that it is only 4 hours so not too onerous, she can sit still at the till for most of her shift but that it does give her something to look forward to each week and the opportunity of talking to people face to face.

Whatever you decide, please don't ever feel that you are putting on others by speaking of your fears on here. Auntymary xx

Hi, I'm advanced stage - lung function 30%. I don't think I would manage too well, I struggle to control my symptoms even when I'm on a good day, but that's me not the condition causing the problem. I'm probably just getting things out of proportion and need to get a focus on everything. Take care,Richard

Hi Richard, I'm more or less in the same situation as you, although lung function nearer 20% than 30%. Although my son lives with me I don't see a lot of him because of his work and social life. I have gone though all you're feeling, the fear is horrendous but please do try not to let it get a grip of you, I am just beginning to conquer my anxiety after a good six months of being crippled by it, to the point of even being afraid of answering the door when I know who is on the other side and hyperventilating. Today, I let the Tesco delivery man in all by myself! Onwards and upwards! As soon as you feel the fear coming, breath in slowly to the count of two and out slowly to the count of four. Relax your shoulders so they're not hunched up and at the same time try and distract yourself, if I'm in the kitchen when it starts, I let the cold tap run over my fingers and watch it, if I'm in the lounge I play solitaire, anything to take your mind away from that feeling of fear. Anxiety/fear is very common in copd, you need to try and get a grip of it as it will certainly get a grip of you at any opportunity! This is just from my experience Richard, everyone is different. You can gain control, I never thought I would, I was a gibbering wreck, but it's starting to get better and bettwr. All the best. Libby

Hi again, should have said, I started using avoidance methods to cope, don't do this, don't do that, and it was the worst thing I could have done, you just get more and more anxious, so I started trying to do those very things that would set me off, and it's working bit by bit. L

I don't know if I'm using avoidance techniques but I know that I do tend to stay within my comfort zone when I go out, it does lead to a tedious and boring life though. I also tend to avoid social situations to avoid anxiety / panic attacks.

I thought I had these under control, obviously not.

Hi Zoee, thanks for your reply. Some of the BE members are meeting this month, I will be going along; although I feel out of place sometimes due to a fairly large age difference. I'm 49 and the others are quite a bit older, although this doesn't really matter, I tend to feel as if I have to be on my best behaviour so I don't get told off, lol. This is probably me just feeling sorry for myself. Take care,Richard

Hi Stitch. I have enough trouble looking after my aquarium and that's more or less established uniformly. Take care,Richard

I try to do everything myself, I want to continue with my independence as long as I can. Housework etc gets done just takes longer and more slowly. I do make sure that I spend enough when food shopping for free home delivery though. The practical aspect is more frustration than anything.

Don't beat yourself up over a little bit of self-pity Richard, I think we all get moments like those. The trick is not to let them get the better of you ;) which I know is easier said than done. I've just suggested to Katlover, on another question, that she gives relaxation CD's a go to see if they'll help with her panic attacks.

The winter months don't help as far as depression is concerned, I know I always feel worse once the dark nights set in and can't wait for some 'proper' warm sunshine.

Zoee's suggestions are good too :) especially when she recommends discussing your feeling with your GP. I told my GP about my depression and that I didn't want to take medication (I take enough as it is) so she recommend I see a psychotherapist. I haven't taken this any further at the moment and am still thinking about it.

Keep on keeping on, we are all here for you


Thanks Elian. I've got a couple of relaxation tapes, although I prefer classical music. I'm on 'mood' medication and I also did quite a long stint with a psychologist; apparently I made major progress whilst seeing her.

I'm seeing my BLF nurse tomorrow so I might have a word with her about this. Knowing me though, I'll probably say that everything is fine. Take care, Richard

Hi Richard

From your post, and correct me please if I am wrong, it sounds like you are not lonely as such but alone and pretty scared of what the future holds at times. I live alone and have felt like this some of the time - usually when I am ill, as normally I am quite happy living on my own. I think these feelings are quite normal when we have a chronic condition. I went to an expert patients programme, and the one thing which surprised me, (don't know why it should) was that whatever condition peeps had they all had similar concerns.

Try not to beat yourself up - you sound to be putting a lot back into your meetings and doing pretty well with your course in CBT - good on ya. I take my hat off to you with your degree and majoring in the psychosocial effects of copd - it's very different being on the other side - that's only when you can get a true understanding and I am sure you can do so much good following on from your CBT course because you really 'get it' and will have empathy.

I'm probably of the age of the folks at your meetings and I would hate it if you were on your best behaviour - please be yourself and not on guard - that's pressure that's unnecessary.

Good idea to speak to your BLF nurse.

Good luck Richard.

Love C xxx

Hi Richard, there's already been some very good advice in the answers. I do have a family around me, and I've also had these horrid feelings around 'what's the point', 'the world would be a better place etc', depression is such a struggle and a fight. I am so impressed that your have acheived so much (speaking as someone who left school with nothing, and been quite phobic about education since). I am interested in your thoughts about the pyschological effects of COPD, I'm only 6 months into having the badge, and feel like I've been to hell and back a number of times. What has helped is the support on here, people who know (havn't told everyone because of the shame of 'bringing this on myself' because of being a smoker) I have COPD tend to think I am doing fine, yea, get a breathless at times, cant dance the night away like I used to, but they just dont get it, on this site people do, and I find that such a comfort. I was wondering if you could use your knowledge in anyway, maybe supporting others ? Dont know richard, but you sound like someone who has a lot to offer and the world would be a much poorer place without you. xxx

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Thanks Medow. I'm an ex-smoker, although I sometimes wonder what difference it is making. I still disguise how bad my condition is from other people, some just wouldn't understand anyway. I intended on completing the CBT diploma and hopefully specialising in CBT for chronic illness, if not specifically COPD. I found personally that the psychological aspects of COPD are overlooked or ignored although that is slowly being addressed. I fully agree that this community is superb in the way everyone puts others first and the advice and support is excellent. I'm proud to be a member of this community. Take care, Richard

I totally agree with medow.You would have so much to offer,please dont let it go to waste! All of us, with this illness,have times of feeling like you,even those of us,with familys,I dont think they can fully understand,what it is like...

Try and see past the age of the others in your group,they all have the same feelings etc,& would probably be pleased to have a younger soul around, to lighten them up!!.As for having to behave,certainly not!!

Do hope things lighten up for you,some good advice has been given here,but I suspect you know it all, having done that course,congrats, by the way!! Just put it into action!

Hugs to you,go spoil yourself with something nice.

Cheers Wendells xxx

Hi Richard...

I've not been around here for long, but just reading what others have said to you and others here inspires me and makes me realise that there are people who completely understand what you and I and they are/have been going through. To me that's brilliant, and I'm sure you agree!

When my wife says to me - [as I sit in my chair here, out of breath and feeling like I've just sprinted 100 yards, although I'm just sitting here] - "A cup of tea would be nice", I sometimes wish I had the energy to strangle her!!!

The thought of standing, walking the 10 feet to the kettle, etc etc, daunts me and I focus on what I was told several years ago by a 90 year old lady...

"Life is the only terminal condition on this planet!!! All the rest is just a pain in the *ss. Be true to yoursel and you will find a way to cope with whatever life throws at you, even though it may not always be easy."

I wish you all the best during this difficult time for you. Talking always helps.



Hi Paul, thanks for your reply. The people in this community are inspirational without a doubt.

I am extremely grateful for the help everyone has given me this evening.

Take care, Richard

Hi Richard, sorry to read that you are feeling panicky and low. Humans do benefit from contact and social connection with others. And so no wonder you are feeling as you do!

As you have some insight and experience in psychology, are you able to identify your current needs?

And the when that is done, work out away to get your needs met? If you're not able to get out much ,then can someone come to you? Perhaps some gentle seated yoga - 1:1 ? Perhaps some hand and foot massage, some support with your household tasks, working with you rather than for you?

Food for thought maybe? Think strong eh?

Blessings to you.

I live with a very caring husband but I still get scary, panicky feelings. Not so bad since I've been on ADs, also have diazepam and if I'm feeling really scared and frightened I have one.

I am convinced alot is to do with the short, dark, cold days but have you noticed the nights drawing out. Hope Spring brings some relief to you Richard.

Lib x

i do live alone i have two cats ,i don't have family,sometime i have cramp in my lung inthe middle of the night,i learn to live with it ,i am just 52 years old,try to make the best of your life giorgio talate

Hello Richard

Great advice from everyone as usual. I'm only 53 with 30% function I'm doing PR at the moment which I think is great I use oxygen for the exercise and everyone gets on really well, I don't think age matters when you have something in common.


Hi Kimmy, I agree that age has no bearing in reality. Everyone has been superb with their advice and support. I did chat with my BLF nurse today. Not surprisingly the HAD test resulted in me scoring very high for both depression and anxiety for which I am going to see someone at the hospital this weekend, with the backup that if needed I can go down and ask to see them before my appointment. Hopefully, I will be okay until my appointment. Take care, Richard.

Hi Richard I do know how you are feeling. I live on my own and am not currently working. I suffer with depression too. How I cope with it is to make my own structure to the day. Every day I take my sisters dog out walking and most afternoons I visit my mum in her home. Other days I go down town or visit friends.

I also make sure I have a structured social life. I play darts twice a week and euchre and dommies with the boys once a week. If Man Utd are on Sundays I go to pub to watch them.

On nights I don't go out I cook myself a good meal, watch telly then come on here later. Or I might ring a friend. Fortunately I live in small village and know a lot of people. If I feel really lonely or down I trundle round local shops. I always meet people I know for a chat etc.

Work provides a natural structure but if you are not working then its essential to make your own structure.

Bev x

Hi Richard

Just wondering how your doing today. It's blooming cold here, greater London xxx

Hi Medow. I spoke to my BLF nurse today, referred to a psychologist at the hospital. I go on Sunday. At the moment I'm struggling with my breathing, it never rains but it pours! It's freezing here also. I'm just trying to take things gradually and not have to go to hospital. Thanks for thinking of me. Take care, Richard

Thankfully, whatever was causing me to be breathless and struggling has eased off. I'm going to get myself a nice cup of tea.

Now that is great news !

Hi Medow, unfortunately I spoke too soon. I am in hospital due to breathing going out of control and a very high temperature. Luckily, my BLF nurse was around and organised things. The Dr is confident that I will be home on Saturday, that's why I have problems, the breathing never gets sorted out properly before I go home. Take care, Richard

Keep us posted Richard, that's a downer, is it a chest infection ? That's great the Blf was around, hope your on the mend, and hope they don't discharge you too soon, hope your having a comfortable night xxx

How you doing Richard ? If your still in hospital it's probably the best place, it is very cold x x

Hi Medow, I'm still in hospital now on the Respiratory Unit. Looks like they may actually get me right before sending me home. How are you keeping?

Take care, Richard

Try not to be a rush to be discharged. It sounds like you could do with a bit of care for a few days at least. Hope you are soon recovered. Take care. Thinking of you. x

Hi Richard, just wondering how your doing, hope they get your meds right, and get to the bottom of this before they send you home, it's still very cold out here, hospital is the best place with weather like this. I'm ok, was a bit fed up with the football yesterday, am a hammers fan, I do find thi weather hard on my breathing, but going out with a scarfe accross my face which seems to help, was convinced I was going down with something in the week, and drunk loads and loads of honey, ginger, lemon, and vit c, ate loads of garlic too, probably scared off any germs ! Do hope your on the mend Richard, keep us posted xxx

Hi Richard,

I hope you will soon be feeling better and will soon be fit for home and up for trying a positive action plan. Good news about the psychologist, really hope that helps you buddy..:-)


Hope you are feeling a little brighter and look forward to the return home. Remember if you are feeling low then you can always call me here at the BLF helpline for a chat? 03000 030 555. Take care n keep smiling.


Hi Helen, thanks for the message. I am being discharged tomorrow morning, I managed to stay an extra day as I didn't feel well enough to go home; the staff nurse agreed. I'm not sure if I am looking forward to getting back home. The mental health care team was supposed to see me on the ward on Sunday - they were informed that I was in hospital - no one turned up, then that evening I got a phone call asking why I missed the appointment. Not much faith in the 'team' from my viewpoint. Anyway, take care everyone, Richard.

Keep us posted as to how you get on. Try to get your appointment with the mental health care team re-arranged before you are discharged and take care.


Hi Margaret, I am going home this morning, slightly more positive as my breathing feels a little easier, some anxiety lurking though. As long as I can keep the anxiety and panic under control then I should be fine. I will speak with my BLF nurse about seeing the mental health team once I am home. Take care, Richard.

Hello Im new to this site and am just scanning through some of the questions. I have a fantastic family living fairly close but actually live on my own. I have had many major ops so am very used to bad health before this latest diagnosis of COPD which really hit hard just before christmas when I had my youngest grandson staying and I just couldnt breath. I had to phone my daughter and then she phoned my son to come round. I have never ever had to call them out no matter how much pain I have been in or how ill what a failure I felt. I had always always been the strong head of this family, worked my whole life raised 4 kids and helped with 4 grandson now of various ages and here I was having to ask for help. I showed how vulnerable I really had been all these years and it was horrible feeling but!!!! you know what I finally rembered what had got me through all the really big ops, having my bladder finally taken away and living with my accessory (as I call it) having my kidney tubes cut and connected lol anyway all that my addage IF I cry and scream and moan will I be cured !!! and the answer is most definately NO!!! so you know what I had better get on with it and aim to go back to Vegas maybe next year ha ha. Good luck to you and please try and find a goal or something to set yourself and I truly hope that helps xx

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