I’m Living With IPF and Need to Slow Down
I’ve always been guilty of putting too much pressure on myself.
While I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) five years ago, I still haven’t learned how to slow down and avoid putting so much pressure on myself. This is despite the disease causing me extreme fatigue, breathlessness, a dry cough, and other symptoms. I’m still trying to keep up with my peers and keep commitments I’ve made.
Before I was diagnosed with IPF, I never prioritized sleep and could push through all-nighter study sessions when I was in college. I don’t try to stay up all night anymore, and haven’t for many years, but occasionally I still stay up too late to work on a project.
Some of the pressure I feel now comes from wanting to improve my work performance and meet my financial goals. My job is chaotic and occasionally requires long hours, but I love it. I want to establish my career, save to buy a house, and begin thinking about getting married and starting a family. But having IPF makes meeting those goals a challenge.
I’m also at a time in my life when spending time with my friends and maintaining my social connections are important to me. I want to have the time and energy to go out to dinner or coffee, or visit a friend’s new baby. I have a hectic social schedule and sometimes the pressure I put on myself “to be a good friend” is unbearable.
I am worried that I don’t have the energy to put in the work required for my job and keep social engagements. If I invest in my career, will it mean I won’t have time for my friends?
Additionally, I sometimes don’t feel mentally sharp, and I must remember that brain fog is a very real side effect of living with IPF, along with memory loss and mental fatigue. I put pressure on myself to perform quickly and to remember tasks and processes as if I weren’t under-oxygenated. I’ve even begun writing out processes at work and color-coding my calendar to remember certain things, but it still doesn’t feel like I’m doing enough.
I recently told a close friend that I needed to slow down, and she agreed. She reminded me that I have experienced acute exacerbations and that I have to contend with the side effects of anti-fibrotic medications, leaving me with poor lung function.
Only so many hours
I have given this a lot of thought over the past couple months and have concluded, as the saying goes, that “there are only so many hours in a day.” I do need to slow down. I want to start taking time after work to rest and relax, and to cook a healthy meal, because nutrition is important for managing chronic illness.
I do make time for exercise, but not time for my body to rest and repair from it, because I stay up late when I should be sleeping.
I can’t do this anymore. I am living with IPF, a life-threatening lung disease, and I need to slow down and find effective ways to reduce the pressure I put on myself. But I don’t know how to do that.
I wrote this column with the idea that putting it down here would help keep me accountable. I want to have a more relaxed and a less chaotic November.
In what ways have you slowed down since your diagnosis of IPF? Please share in the comments below.
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.