Voices from the UK's pulmonary hypertension community
Myra, 69, lives in Somerset and was diagnosed with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) in 2014. She also has other health conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and chronic kidney disease.
“The pandemic was really difficult to start with. I just felt really angry and sad. I cried a lot at the beginning, and I do still occasionally burst into tears.
I couldn’t stop watching the news. I knew it was making me worse because I would cry afterwards but I needed to know all the facts and figures.
I also got very stressed about people I knew ignoring the rules. I got very angry about that.
I had to keep reminding myself that it was their choice and that I didn’t know their circumstances. I think I was feeling that they just didn’t ‘get it’.
A huge thing for me was not being able to see my children and grandchildren so it just made me realty cross seeing people still hugging right at the beginning. I had to keep reminding myself to let it go, but it wasn’t easy.
I was petrified of catching covid. I kept thinking, what am I going to do? I might die, and I don’t want to die yet.
All those sorts of things were quite huge. About three or four months after the pandemic all started, I had a telephone appointment with my GP, and I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
We talked about various strategies [to help] but I didn’t particularly want to see anyone [for therapy] and I still don’t.
I have had a lifetime of working with people with mental health conditions or learning disabilities, so I feel I’ve got strategies to help myself.
Practicing mindfulness helped, but it was art that made the biggest difference. I returned to art whilst shielding, and it’s been amazing. I still draw every single day.
I took out a subscription to a company that sends you art materials and sets you a daily challenge to draw something, and I’ve been doing it ever since. You post your pictures on Instagram and it’s really nice when someone says they are good.
Drawing takes me to another place really, into my own headspace.
I’ve had four vaccinations now and I think that has made me more confident. I’m still wearing masks, still washing my hands, and I really don’t care what other people do.
My mental health is loads better now. The art and the mindfulness has made a massive difference.
I still have my moments, and I still get days when I feel really flat and down, but I know there is always someone worse than me and I’m still here at the end of the day.”
~ Myra told her story to the PHA UK in the summer of 2022 ~
Life is short, and that is exactly what the last couple of years have shown us
The lack of control is probably what I struggled with most
I wasn’t willing to go back to work and put her in danger
Every corner I turned during the pandemic was scary, but my specialist centre gave me hope