We Can Overcome Sarcoidosis’s Mental Stranglehold
A chronic health condition like pulmonary sarcoidosis can have a mental stranglehold on a person, causing fear, anxiety, and stress that we must learn to live with.
Such a stranglehold can hold you hostage both mentally and physically.
When I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, I immediately thought it’s only a diagnosis, and it’s not etched in stone. But my pulmonologist explained to me that things would change for me, and not necessarily for the better.
I believed him because I trusted him and we have a history together, but I wasn’t going to allow him to have the last word on how I live.
So much for self-worth
I’ve always been a reckless adventurer, so I decided to continue living with tempered caution. It’s worked out so far, except when sarcoidosis tried to bench me. After two spontaneous pneumothoraces, I had to slow my roll regarding how I was living.
Thanks to pulmonary sarcoidosis, I became disabled, so my days as the family breadwinner were over. So much for a sense of self-worth. It almost seemed reactionary that when I was considered disabled, my mental strangleholds reared their ugly heads and consumed my efforts at rehabilitation and progress.
One of the daily challenges I face is watching television. I remember when I was hospitalized, with the exception of tests, physical therapy, and reading, all I did was watch TV. There really isn’t much to do in a hospital, so it’s up to us to change the narrative about how rehabilitation and progress will go. I’m guilty of sitting in front of the television for hours, even watching shows I’ve seen before. I’ve reached a point where my children tell me to get out of the house and do something different. Before society as we know it changed, I used to go to the gym every day to get a short workout.
Another stranglehold that seems to consume me is procrastination. I’ll start my day by telling myself, “I’m going to do this today!” But once I get started, my mind drifts to something entirely different. I tell myself I’ll do it tomorrow. Then I realize that with my health condition, tomorrow may never come.
Admittedly, I have other small strangleholds I can control to my benefit, but it’s important that we realize that these strangleholds exist in our lives, and it’s up to us to break ourselves free from them.
Strike while the fire is hot
Now is the time for all of us to overcome those mental challenges and obstacles that we deal with daily. I’ve noticed that some of my strangleholds happen at certain times of the day. For example, I’ll eat lunch at a certain time of day to coincide with a particular television show, a habit I picked up in the hospital. I’ve since adjusted my routine to eat before or after the show. When I could still go to the gym, I would go at that specific time so that I had something productive to do to help me relax.
It’s been a while since I worked on a video project, but this week I changed that by forcing myself to find an old and unfinished one. I found one, but faced another obstacle: editing the video. It took me some time, but I figured it out, and I must admit, the challenge felt great. I challenged myself and won — much like living with a chronic condition and knowing you’ve made progress.
My next adventure will be a page from my son’s playbook. I’ve always told him to take chances with what he loves to do, and he did just that. He’s wanted a new camera since last year but couldn’t get one. So, he saved his money and decided to take a chance on himself by purchasing it. The look of joy and accomplishment on his face told a story I’d been looking for since 2017. As a father, it felt awesome.
Now it’s time for me to start taking more chances on myself and to stop feeling frustrated. Tomorrow may never come, but today, I want to smile knowing I accomplished something meaningful for myself.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.