It is hard to admit that my chronic lung disease is having more than a physical impact on me. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a relentless, cruel disease and sometimes it causes me to behave in ways that leave me feeling ashamed.
This disease sets me apart from most of my peers; people often wonder why I can’t do the things other young adults can as the symptoms of this disease can be invisible. IPF has changed the way I interact with other people and my environment. I am more impatient and impulsive than I was before my diagnosis.
I am thankful that I’m aware of the problem that has developed and I am working on how to correct my behavior. It is particularly bad on days when my physical health is worse. Back in September 2017, I wrote about emotional outbursts and wondered why they might be happening. I guess that a part of me feels out of control, and this is exacerbated by anxiety that is manifesting as anger.
While I wasn’t an anxious person before my diagnosis, I think it’s impossible to avoid anxiety with IPF, because so much about this disease is uncertain. I wonder whether anxiety is also responsible for my impatience that is steadily increasing as my condition worsens. By examining my surroundings, the time of day, or how I feel, I am starting to find some answers.
For example, the fatigue that accompanies this lung disease can be incredibly challenging to manage. Simple tasks like getting up in the morning take a lot of effort, and sometimes I am running late due to fatigue causing me to hit the snooze button. I have no one to blame but myself when this makes me late, but it makes me impatient while driving. While impatience is understandable in someone who is running behind schedule, I find it particularly frustrating to be late because of intense fatigue that hinders my efforts to get up on time in the morning.
When I go to the store to look for an ingredient for a new recipe I am trying out or something from the pharmacy, it takes a lot of physical energy to run that errand. So, when the item I want is not in stock, I feel angry. Sometimes I say more than I should and my disappointment is obvious to the store clerks which makes them feel bad.
I feel impatient at work meetings that seem unimportant to me. But who am I to determine what’s appropriate? A discussion topic that is relevant to one of my colleagues or the families I support should matter to me, too. However, I feel my patience running low when I deem something insignificant in the “grand scheme of life.”
Sometimes I wonder if it matters if we send that email this week or the following one. Or how many times we have to review a process that is already working. I look at these things from the perspective of someone living with a life-threatening disease, and while that viewpoint may seem unfair, that is my predicament. I wish everyone had a chance to see things this way because it helps to identify what is meaningful in life versus what is inconsequential.
I’ve shared a few examples of when I feel impatient and angry, but sadly I can think of many more. I am continually looking to understand my behavior better and find solutions. I suspect others living with IPF may be able to offer some insight.
Have you experienced an increase in impatience or impulsivity since your IPF/PF diagnosis? Do you know why? Have you found ways to deal with these behaviors?
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis 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 Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.