The Dark Side of Asthma

I want to get real for a minute about mental health and asthma. No one on earth would wish to have asthma. At least no one who has ever actually struggled to breathe, and it’s not glamorous to have asthma, that’s for sure.

For the past few months, my asthma has not been ideal. I was seeming to have flare-up after flare-up and I was becoming increasingly discouraged. I am a respiratory therapist after all, I should be able to get this under control. Unfortunately, my body had other ideas. This winter season has been particularly difficult with dramatic swings in temperatures where I live in the Midwest.

Mental health and asthma

Sometimes our asthma can take us to some pretty dark places and affect not only our physical health but also our mental health. Especially when our breathing is holding us back from doing things, we are unable to do. I know for me, I tend to become more withdrawn. I’m usually quite the social butterfly, but when my asthma is acting up, I am the complete opposite.

I guess I don’t want to feel like I am a burden on anyone nor attract attention to myself because of my asthma acting up. I don’t want sympathy, but I do want people to know that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows all of the time.

It is okay to talk about mental health

It’s okay to talk about our mental health. There has been a huge stigma surrounding mental health for a long time, and it’s time to break that wall down and stomp on it. Keeping feelings and emotions bottled up for fear of being judged can only lead to more issues for yourself down the road. I am a huge believer in the importance of finding people who understand what we as asthmatics are going through.

I have several close “asthma buddies” that I can call or text or get together with for coffee who just get it. We vent to each other about how we are coping with our flare-ups. We share our frustrations but also our triumphs and good things. Personal connections are such a vital part of our asthma journey and we aren’t meant to walk this path alone. If you are really struggling please call your doctor as they will have resources to help get you feeling better both physically and mentally.

Looking at asthma from a different perspective

It is human nature to mourn our former self or the life we wish we had without asthma. It is hard not to think of all of the “what ifs” like "what would my life look like if I didn’t have to take daily inhalers and avoid certain triggers"? What I have learned to do (which is still really hard sometimes) is to try and look at it from the other perspective. How has having asthma impacted my life for the positive?

Bear with me here for a minute as I’m pretty sure you want to throw a book at my head. For me, having asthma has connected me with the most incredible group of asthma friends both near and far who I can call at any time of the day or night. Having asthma has given me the compassion and understanding I needed as a respiratory therapist. It increased my ability to be able to relate with the people both on a mental and physical health level that I care for.

If you are feeling alone on this asthma journey and feel it impacting your mental health, please know that you aren’t alone. We are on this path together and even though it is really hard to get past the really tough times, it is possible. Don’t be afraid to pick up that phone and call a friend. You aren’t a burden. You are a blessing.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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