Anxiety sits just underneath the surface of our heart and with the tiniest change in our world, we are all a flutter.
Anxiety takes away our ability to focus and makes it challenging to hear what others are
It feels almost impossible to get a task done as we are scattered and confused about why we feel the way we do.
Given our struggle with pulmonary hypertension, it is expected that we would feel a great dealof anxiety. Our life is often tormented by many questions with few certain answers.
“How much will I be able to get done today without feeling flattened with fatigue?”
“Will I cope with the social commitments I have made?”
“Am I doing too much or too little?”
The list goes on and the questions collect around our heart unanswered. Anxiety builds withuncertainty and also with the expectation that we should know all of the answers.
Expectationoften converts to internalized pressure; the more it builds the more anxiety rules the day.
An important strategy with anxiety is to look beneath the surface. Anxiety is often the tip of the iceberg; it is all the feelings underneath anxiety that give it power and control.
For instance, embarrassment, sadness, shame, bitterness and despair may all be there
undiscovered. If they continue to be there collecting as “issues in our tissues” then anxiety
Some of the feelings may be for example:
- I feel sad;
- I feel despairing about PH and my ability to manage
- the illness;
- I feel scared of the illness’s progression. How will I cope then? I am terrified to die;
- I feel angry, confused, ashamed, guilty, bitter, etc.
When feelings are unacknowledged, they build up toxicity in our system. Each challenging
feeling also bombards our mind with negative self-talk. Our mind may say repeatedly “you are not trying hard enough to tackle your illness, you need to try harder.”
Honouring and releasing our feelings is the most powerful way to get our strength back.
Another strategy that is key to managing anxiety associated with pulmonary hypertension is to keep bringing ourselves back ‘to the moment’. Anxiety and worry can build whenever we try to predict the next hour, the next day, the next month and next year. All of our lives are soaked in uncertainty, all human beings will die and we don’t know when. With PH, the clock is harder to ignore. Each day can feel a day closer to death.
Staying focused on death robs us of being alive in this moment in time. In essence, all of
our lives are made up of precious moments when we bring presence and awareness to now. Moving into the now can be tricky when our minds are busy. However, one way we can do this is by being aware of our breath; focusing on our breathing instantly brings us into this moment in time.
Being in the moment is healing medicine for a terminal illness; the more we can live each moment, the more we can accept the uncertainty around letting go of life, as we know it.
With anxiety managed more easily, we may still have tough days through our battle with pulmonary hypertension. However, our meagre resources can go into assisting our physical struggle, particularly when our emotional world is more soaked in acceptance of what is and moments of peace.