Greg

(from the perspective of a teenager)

When you think of having asthma, what comes to mind?

A character a bit like Greg – the star in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, maybe?

Pop culture references to asthma always seem to portray it in the same light – and such representations are usually far from being accurate. In fact, asthma has been notably stigmatized in Hollywood feature films for a long time – further perpetuating the stereotype that those who have asthma are nerdy, weak, and overemotional.

The truth of the matter is that having asthma does not dictate your personality or who you are as a person… which is exactly where Hollywood gets it wrong. Having asthma simply means having to take a little extra precaution in looking after yourself, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

While it may feel intimidating having to use your inhaler in public, or revealing that you have asthma to your friends, the reality is that most people really don’t care and if they are real friends, they will support you no matter what. David Beckham has asthma and that hasn’t defined him, nor has it stopped him from being totally awesome in his chosen career. PINK lives with asthma too, yet she’s still managed to travel the world, be a mum and have the most sensational entertainment career.

It’s really important to understand that dealing with the stigmas associated with asthma can lead to anxiety and a higher risk of depression – which in turn worsens asthma symptoms. The fear of social judgement can also result in reduced inhaler use and an avoidance in taking medication, which may have serious outcomes and places you at risk of asthma flare-ups and attacks.

Asthma is serious, but if you manage it well, you can still achieve your dreams So, it’s about time the stereotypes concerning asthma are broken down. If asthma is something someone feels they must hide, the stereotypes aren’t going to change. It’s about embracing and accepting that having asthma is just another fact of life, and just another reason to take the utmost care of yourself. It’s about living your life freely despite having asthma, instead of letting asthma rule you.

After all, nothing should stop you from being authentically awesome.