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How to Be the Best Companion While Living with IBD

This has crossed my mind a million times. If it were the other way around, and my husband was the one with Crohn’s Disease, how would I handle it? And, as his wife, how am I doing living with a chronic illness? Am I a burden, a cause for concern, an inconvenience? This holds true for other relationships. What does this mean for my friends and colleagues?

About 99% of this disease is out of our control, but what about the remaining 1%? I often wonder how I can not only be a good person but a good patient to those around me. Below is a list of how I have learned to be a better companion while living with Crohn’s Disease, despite sometimes being tired, irritable, and just plain sick.

No one truly knows what it’s like to live with IBD

Be appreciative of the efforts from others

Unless you have walked a mile in our shoes, no one truly knows what it is like to suffer from IBD. So, it is not fair to brush off people’s suggestions or get upset when they give you advice that may have no effect on your symptoms. The bottom line is, people who love you just want to help or at least feel like they are helping, so they might make a suggestion to change your diet or reduce stress (both which you may have tried to no avail) but while they cannot completely understand what we are going through, letting them know you appreciate their suggestions and their concern is a good place to start.

Realize that there is more than one person in a relationship

It is easy to be guilty of playing the “victim” when being the only one with a chronic illness in a relationship, but do your best to keep it in check. Yes, we suffer. Yes, we feel miserable. However, we do not have to share every little thing with every person with whom we communicate.

I used to be that person who vented (excessively) about how miserable I was while I was not being fed in the hospital due to bowel rest, or the amount of nausea I encountered while on medication, but I realized that the amount of complaining I did was not going to fix it, and I was just ruining the time spent with loved ones when they came to visit me. Use others’ company to forget your ailments for a few minutes, focus on them and ask how they are feeling, or ask them to tell you a good story about their day to take your mind off of your situation. The best way I have found to vent is through journaling so that I could let out all of my frustrations and in time, see how far I have come from those miserable sick days.

Be honest about IBD and what you are going through

Let’s face it, sometimes you just have to be honest with yourself and others. If you are invited out for dinner with friends and are not feeling well, don’t pretend everything is fine and go out, just tell them you are under the weather and stay home. Or, if you are invited to an event where you are nervous about the bathroom situation, let others know your apprehensiveness so that you can make the proper arrangements, or skip it altogether.

Those who are closest to us and love us want nothing but the best, so when feeling good, bad, and anything in between, do your best to express it so that you are better understood and accommodations can be made. Maybe you don’t feel like having company at all, or the smell of your spouse’s dinner is making you gag—tell them! As I mentioned above, if someone cares about you, they want to make you happy, and sometimes they just don’t know what that is so you have to tell them. They will understand 🙂

IBD can be miserable, but support makes all the difference

These are just a few ways you can be a better companion when dealing with IBD. I know it is hard and some days are just miserable, but when you have the right support system, it makes life more bearable. So, embrace your inner circle, do your best to be appreciative, respectful, and honest with them, and your journey will be much more enjoyable in the long run.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    4 months ago

    This is a great read. It is definitely easy to get caught up in our trails, which come in handfuls. But boy is it important to take a step back and understand that people, for the most part, care and want to see us better.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thank you so much, Elizabeth!
    I know this can be hard to see when we are in the thick of a flare or feeling ill, but it is super important to keep it in perspective and be grateful to those who care about us. I don’t know where I would be without my support team!

    –Julie (Team Member)

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    4 months ago

    Couldn’t agree more!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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