Stepping Out of Hiding to Find a Happier Version of Myself
Columnist Ann Reynoso makes a plan to become a better person and PF advocate
My inspiration for this column came from looking out my window, which was built high up and close to the ceiling. I call it “God’s Window,” because every morning, I can look up to the heavens, and every night, I can see the stars. It’s beautiful when the sun is shining and calming when it’s raining.
Gazing through this window has allowed me to take a good look at my life, actions, and reactions. Because of my pulmonary fibrosis, I have been hiding away, trying to make peace with my illness by living in denial.
I’ve discovered I can be uncooperative when it comes to festivities, often making excuses about how difficult and exasperating it is to carry my portable oxygen equipment. But I’ve realized that it’s not my illness holding me back — I’m the one stopping myself from having fun.
On several occasions, I’ve been asked to join friends and family on day outings, but find myself making excuses as to why I can’t go. These may include not feeling well, being tired, or not wanting to expose myself to any viruses. I began to convince myself that I was losing all my loved ones, when, in reality, I was shutting myself away from the world and they were losing me.
I have allowed myself to believe that I don’t deserve to walk among “normal” people, since I don’t feel normal. I’ve had a hard time shaking off the awkwardness of having to wear a nasal cannula and lug around portable oxygen tanks. I get self-conscious every time someone takes a second look at me.
I also refuse help, even when I know I might need it — especially on the long walk from the parking lot to my doctor’s office. The medical staff are always so nice and try to convince me to use a wheelchair, but I don’t want to seem weak.
Through all of these feelings of inadequacy, I have allowed myself to miss out on the fun of living my life. I’ve been hiding for far too long, and it’s time to take action. I recall the words my mother told me, which I have been using since I began writing my column: “Never hide your illness.”
Because I want to live my best life, I’ve decided to create some goals for myself. I’m a person who must create a plan, otherwise, I get lazy about reaching my goals.
For starters, I want to find a much happier and more balanced version of myself. To do this, I will need to make amends with my family and longtime friends. Second, I’d like to meet other newly diagnosed patients who also struggle with accepting their illness. And third, I want to put my desire to become a better PF advocate into action.
I realize these won’t be easy tasks, especially since working on my self-confidence and self-awareness has been a battle for me. But I am determined to find a happy balance for myself. I can’t help others if I’m not on the right path.
One thing I’ve decided to work on is not thinking about my past or worrying about my future. With a rare, chronic illness, I must learn to live for today, in the moment.
I’m learning to accept that I am human, so there will be times when I struggle with my confidence. This is when I will need to be courageous, silence the critical side of me, and express gratitude toward myself.
Only after I’ve achieved these goals will I be ready to step out of hiding, advocate for my community, and help others find the best version of themselves. I know this will be hard, but I’m up for the challenge.
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.