How to Find Positives When Living With IPF
For most people, a new year brings new opportunities and often, a strong desire to bring on changes and try to achieve new goals. Some make those goals about physical changes, while others might look at social goals.
Some may choose mental or emotional health improvements, such as striving for tasks that will make them happy or engaging in activities that feel good for the soul. For those who want to improve their mental health, small but intentional changes to how one thinks about things can make all the difference in the world.
Someone who had to face this challenge head-on is Australian Olympian, Janine Shepherd. Janine was hit by a truck while riding her bike, leaving her a partial quadriplegic. As she lost the ability to do many physical things independently, Janine began to suffer from depression (something many IPF patients can relate to). She wondered if life could ever be good again. As she explains in her TED Talk “I Am Not My Body,” she reframed “why me?” to “why not me?” after a particularly life-changing experience with a young woman in the hospital bed next to her.
She let go of her dream to become an Olympic athlete. Instead, she embarked on one of the biggest challenges she’d ever faced: she rebuilt her life.
Janine’s TED talk can be applied to many different groups of people or scenarios, but is particularly relatable for patients living with a life-threatening illness such as IPF. For Janine, reframing her thoughts truly changed her life, and it can do the same for patients.
Below are some of the ways patients can strive to look for even small positives amidst the many negatives of living with IPF:
With having full physical abilities, it’s easy to become consumed in daily tasks that can make days fly by at lightening speed. But being forced to slow down due to your illness can seem burdensome and unfair. However, if you reframe having to slow down, life can be a lot more beautiful in slow and quiet moments. You can learn to appreciate the quiet — finding a sense of peace and calmness that couldn’t exist in the chaos of life before.
According to the literature, IPF patients have a shortened lifespan due to the eventual inability to breathe. This will always seem unfair to patients, but consider this: perhaps a life is better lived in quality than quantity. Most people naturally take life for granted, whereas patients diagnosed with a life-threatening illness learn to make the days count.
Others not understanding
One of the challenges of living with IPF is that it’s not a common disease, so most people can’t understand what it’s like regardless of their intentions. This might make friends disappear, when you can no longer do the things you once did, or share in their same interests. While this might make you sad, it could be said that an IPF diagnosis shows people’s true colours and shows you who your true friends are. Embrace the people who stick by you no matter how difficult it gets.
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