Once you’ve been diagnosed, the next step is learning how to live with asthma in your everyday life. Asthma is a chronic lung disease that is currently incurable; however, the good news is there are steps you can take to keep your asthma under control. Taking control of your asthma will help you to feel more confident and enjoy better quality of life, rather than letting asthma control you and your life.
How Chronic Illness May Effect Your Life
Chronic illnesses, such as asthma and chronic pain, can take a toll on your life when you have to live with them day in and day out. These conditions can be life-altering, and may leave you feeling as if living your “normal” life isn’t possible. Flare-ups come along and can feel like major setbacks, and may even lead to depression. Depression is a common problem for patients who live with chronic illness. Another issue is that you may not look “sick” to your family, friends or co-workers. They may doubt that you’re truly ill and suffering. Feelings of loneliness and isolation are also common. These issues are widespread, and experienced by most patients who must deal with chronic illness in their lives. Learning how to live with a chronic condition is challenging, but with a positive mindset you can dramatically improve your quality of life.
Develop a Positive Mindset
The patients who have a positive mindset are the ones who have the best quality of life after an asthma diagnosis. It’s normal to experience a period of mourning after diagnosis. You may mourn for the loss of the life you had previous to being diagnosed. Most patients experience the Seven Stages of Grief:
1. Shock and Denial: shocked with the diagnosis, denying that the loss is real and/or that you have a chronic condition.
2. Pain and Guilt: the pain of realization and the guilt that you may have caused your chronic illness.
3. Anger and Bargaining: anger at having the illness and bargaining with “fate” or God; that if this is removed from your life, you’ll live your life in a healthier way.
4. Depression: the true level of loss hits hard.
5. The Upward Turn: you start to adjust to life with your chronic illness.
6. Reconstruction and Working Through: you become more functional and look for practical ways to cope with your new life.
7. Acceptance and Hope: you’ve learned to accept your chronic illness and have learned how to cope, which leads to hope and a better quality of life.
Each person deals with grief in their own way. Many will go through all seven stages, while others may go through fewer stages. This list is not in any specific order; each person goes through these stages in a different order. If you find yourself feeling depressed after more than six weeks, you should consider seeking help from your doctor, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist, in order to get help through the grieving process.
Once your condition has become stable, then it’s time to learn how to achieve the best quality of life possible. You may be able to do all the things you enjoyed in the past, but if not, you can find new ways to enjoy your life. You may even find new insights to Life, and find new abilities you can focus on. Some people with chronic illness go on to write books, develop new skills and more. A positive mindset may also help to keep symptoms and flare-ups to a minimum. Developing a positive mindset can be challenging for many people, however, achieving a higher quality of life, in spite of your chronic condition, can be accomplished by following some basic guidelines.
Basic Guidelines for Learning to Live with Asthma
• Self-Education: this is the process of learning all you can about your asthma—learning what asthma is, how it’s treated, what causes asthma, etc. This method is helpful not only for the patient, but also for caregivers whose children have asthma. Self-education makes a patient more confident and better able to make informed decisions about asthma treatment and management.
• Life-Style Changes: may be necessary to help you better manage your asthma. Learn about your asthma triggers and avoid them as much as possible. You many need to also modify your home, diet, etc. in order to keep asthma stable and keep flares and attacks to a minimum.
• Asthma Medication: learn all you can about your asthma medications, such as side effects, along with how and when to take it. Consistent use of your asthma medication is also necessary to help keep asthma stable.
• Develop a Support Network: a support network (of family and friends) also helps you to feel more positive, while helping to keep feelings of loneliness and isolation away. You might ask your doctor if family and caregiver classes are available in your area, as these might help to educate your loved ones about your condition and how they might be able to help. You might also consider joining an asthma support group either online or in your area.
Asthma can be a life-altering diagnosis, but following these basic steps will help you to cope and adapt to your new life with asthma. Asthma doesn’t have to rule your life; developing a positive mindset is half the battle; learn how to control your asthma, rather than letting asthma control your life.