Pulmonary hypertension is an illness with a dramatic emotional impact: in addition to a range of physical symptoms there can be extensive emotional symptoms depending on the severity. Regardless of its impact, PH leaves the sufferer with challenges every day, that can undermine even the strongest of individuals.
At a recent facilitated focus group, participants (PH patients) talked about the daily barrage of negative self-talk that erupted frequently in their battle with pulmonary hypertension. Some of the thoughts mentioned included:
“I can’t”; “Will it get me?”;
“Who am I going to disappoint today?”;
“I hate my body sometimes!”;
“I am betrayed”;
“I am trapped”;
and “What will be my battle today?”
From a counseling perspective, each one of these thoughts produces an intense array of emotions.
Given the demands of daily life, and physical strains of managing the illness, many emotions get trapped in the body, thereby creating an enormous build-up of unresolved feeling. This not Emotional Impact of the Illness For more information on PHA Canada’s psychosocial resources, please visit: www.phacanada.ca/psychosocial. only makes daily physical challenges much harder—as we know our emotional state impacts our physical state—but it also leads to emotional crises. In this light, it is helpful to highlight the emotion that is triggered by the illness, and understand the feelings more deeply so we can start emotionally healing.
One aspect of emotional healing that is profoundly helpful is it makes us feel more in charge of our life, undermining one of the central aspects of the illness: “feeling out of control.”
According to patients, the negative emotions that are most prevalent in their PH journeys are:
- Depression & Hopelessness
- Guilt & Shame
- Self-Pity & Entitlement
- Grief & Loss