Working Life, COPD and depression: "We are sick, but we are not useless."

Published 24 Sep 2019 • By Louise Bollecker

Pascale, 60, lives in southern France and has COPD. She suffers from depression because of her job, and perhaps her illness as well. She explains how working again saved her and helps her feel better every day.

Working Life, COPD and depression:

What were your first symptoms of COPD?

I think I've had it for at least 20 years. I coughed a lot, had a lot of mucus, and I would lose my breath. At that time, my family doctor told me that I had asthma. In 2010, I decided to stop smoking, my body no longer wanted cigarettes and I was becoming more and more out of breath. I quit smoking in February 2010. 6 months after I quit, I was still not seeing any improvement in my breathing, so my doctor sent me to the pulmonologist. It was there where I learned that I had stage III COPD with emphysema.

Pascale image

How did you react to the diagnosis?

I cried, but I thought I was not going to let it take control of my life.

What impact has COPD had on your professional life?

In the company where I was at the time of my diagnosis, colleagues were kind, but the disease was invisible. It was not like people could see my condition. This was difficult for me to recognize because I felt the impacts of this disease every day. Therefore, I stopped working in 2014 because I became depressed because of the work I was doing. I don't know if it was directly related to the disease. I talked to my doctor about what was going on, but I never took any medication for it.

Today, what treatments are you taking for COPD?

I take Ultibro (Glycopyrronium Bromide) and Seretide in the morning and evening

How did you find the energy to get back to work?

I have recovered the energy to work because it is what makes me live... the fact of seeing people or serving of something... I've had a fixed-term contract for 8 months as a telecounsellor in a social security organization, 35 hours a week. I can't benefit from a part-time job and I didn't ask for one. I was too happy to have found a job at 59!

My colleagues appreciate me, and this time, they do "see" my illness and are understanding and take care of me. I have energy because I see people every day, take the bus, talk to people, and tell everyone around me how bad tobacco is for everyone. Work saved me.

What advice would you give to someone diagnosed with COPD and still of working age?

We have to do something with our lives. We are not useless. We are sick, but there are worse things on this earth. You have to see the positive side and not let yourself get depressed!

Many thanks to Pascale for sharing her story!

And you... when you became diagnosed with COPD, were you able to continue working?

avatar Louise Bollecker

Author: Louise Bollecker, Community Manager France

Community Manager of Carenity in France, Louise is also editor-in-chief of the Health Magazine to provide articles, videos and testimonials that focus on patients' experiences and making their voices heard. With a... >> Learn more

1 comment

on 27/09/2019

Since having breast cancer and the treatment of  radiotherapy it has left me now with emphysema copd I get very breathless it takes me all my time to walk around my chest hurts so bad when I cough I used to suffer with asthma but since I had the radiotherapy it has now given me emphysema I take 2 puffs of salbutamol morning and night and 2puffs of seretide morning and night but now they have put me on braltus and I take that inhaler once in the morning it comes with hard capsules you have to put one in close it then press side to break capsules then as you suck in it is supposed to vibrate and then when finished you empty the machine and throw away the capsule, but I was going to rehabilitation exercise they wouldn't let me do excercise but I did enjoy the therapy talks but while I was there I had to be sent home twice with terrible chest infections they sorted out for me some stand by antibiotics and steroids, but I had to use those twice but I do have some more I have been in hospital for my infection for 2 days I was put on a nebulizer and was given much stronger antibiotics also had loads of blood tests  and because the antibiotics were stronger was told that I now could have liver disease but was told I could go home they are still keeping a watchful eye on me  still have the cough but have just had more blood taken at surgery but have to go back for 2nd part of my m o t also have to take a water sample  in and have my flu injection  but I still have to wait for my results and that Is quite worrying as I hate the thought of my cancer spreading but my cough is not helping this is my page on my emphysema. Tiger .

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