From my Journal of 9/13/2010: After five years of trying to make a new life, some days I just don’t see how I can keep going. Asthma hit me for the first time last winter, and almost a whole year later, it’s still not under control. When asthma drops my lung function out of the “good range,” I feel like a Voldemort Dementor is sucking out all my energy, joy, and life. For the past three days I had to stay in the house all day, and to spend almost all the time in the small room I use as a home office. The air purifier works effectively there.
Even though this room’s bigger than an elevator or a closet and decorated nicely, I feel trapped in my house and out of control over everything that’s happening to my body. I can stand this for a little while, but it started driving me crazy about 36 hours ago. Now I want to do something explosive—scream, do something really major and destructive, I don’t know. Anything I think of would be a mess to clean up, so I’m stuck—trapped in my head. This morning I drove to a home decorating store and walked around just so I could feel my body moving and look at something other than the walls of my house. My being on disability eliminates therapeutic shopping (that means buying), so I could only look. At least I was out of the house.
When I came home I put on an Abba CD at HIGH volume. The neighbors probably couldn’t hear–we make space for each other’s craziness, anyway. I sang and danced around the house, with arm movements and everything. I picked up my dog’s front legs and made her dance with me. That helped a little. When I’m blue, baking usually lifts my spirits. Today, however, by the time I put ingredients for granola on the kitchen island, all I felt like doing was crawling in bed and crying. I hate asthma. So I crawled in bed and cried. Oh, were those sheets and pillows comforting! I didn’t want to come out.
I’ve learned how to live with heart failure. I promise myself I’ll learn how to manage asthma, too. With my breathing so iffy, I’ve put tons of things on hold: volunteering, outdoor concerts, eating outside, gardening, sun bathing. I don’t know the words to express how frustrated and trapped I feel. I think often of people who’ve lived with asthma for years, or function on less than two lungs and seem to keep a good spirit about it. I admire them, but don’t know if I can follow in their footsteps. I feel so alone, helpless and hopeless.
I made myself call my doctors today for help. One will see me tomorrow. I’ll probably cry in his office. The asthma educator thinks I’m on the right track and will talk with that doctor this afternoon to make sure. It’s been a while since heart failure knocked me down this far. I’m afraid the CHF and asthma will be too much for my system and I’ll leave this world sooner than I want to after all. I cry again.
O.K. I’ve rolled out of bed and put another CD on the player. I’m going to set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes. When it buzzes, I’ll have made it through 30 minutes. Then I’ll set it for another 30 minutes. Each segment’s a time in which I put one foot in front of another and, as a mentor said long ago, kept “acting my way into being.” I’ll blast the music, bake, and sing. I’ll make granola first, then something with the Portobello mushrooms before they spoil. If I still need to stave off the chasm of despair, I’ll bake a cake. My trainer will be totally happy to hear about that last one, I’m sure!
Update: The granola’s great. The Portobello dish wasn’t. Bigger mushrooms might make it better, but still not good enough to try again. My husband deserves an A+ for graciously eating a wretched dish. He even smiled and cleaned his plate. What a good guy—especially since every bite was an effort. I never did get to the cake. My mood went down the tubes again. One foot in front of the other only worked for a few hours. Tomorrow’s another day.
Learning: When it’s tough to keep going, follow the advice of AA and chunk the day down into manageable time periods. Affirm yourself for making it through that segment, then work on the next one. You’ll make it.