man watching boats go by into the horizon

Living Between the Bathroom Stalls

When you live with ulcerative colitis, every second of relief becomes precious. Living with IBD is living between the bathroom stalls, literally and metaphorically. If it weren’t already challenging enough to deal with a chronic illness, we also live in the most distracting era of human history. Content has become unavoidable. It comes in so many different flavors, from a podcast to an Instagram cat picture. But there’s nothing vanilla about managing all of the noise that swirls around us on a daily basis.

I average about 183 notifications on my phone a day. That’s without considering all of the other messages from the other devices that I live and work with regularly. Furthermore, though the line between the online world and the “real world” continues to blur, we still have to manage our offline personas as well as our digital avatars. When you factor in managing a social life, work, and home responsibilities it can feel like you’re running away from the ever-advancing hands of the clock.

Accomplishments and to-do lists with UC

For me, I struggle with not living in between the seconds. Often, I feel like if I am not accomplishing something then I am wasting time. Simply put, every choice and every action I take has begun to feel like a sacrifice of something else. When I make choice A, I do so knowing that I am throwing choice B-Z into an abysmal volcano. I dread the inevitable eruption that will force me to confront the would haves and could haves of yesteryear.

I’ve tried using countless to-do lists and my house is the Death Valley of journals. To me, there’s always been so excitingly terrifying about the blank page or an empty notebook. In the emptiness, there’s so much promise and possibility. However, after I shovel through all of that hope and opportunity, I scrape the bottom where commitment and indecision lie buried. And again, it’s so blissfully easy to get distracted by doctors' appointments, work projects, and guilty pleasures. To be honest, I feel like my favorite thing to do is to watch time, decisions, and projects drift by me like a ship sailing out of port to some unforeseeable land beyond the horizon of my imagination. At the end of the day, though, it’s not poetic, it’s a frustration that runs on and on.

Living with a chronic illness is not normal

All of these thoughts stem from experiences in the average, nine-to-five, hum-drum days of my life. They come from the beige normalcy of life. From the moments take place long before a protagonist’s dramatic conflict with the antagonist, and long after their heroic triumph. But living with a chronic illness is by its very definition - not normal. It’s an unpredictable exemption that remits and flares. Thus, all of this time-management becomes all the more difficult.

So I’m working on becoming more comfortable with the silence and the lack of anything in certain moments of my time. After all, time is infinite, and what I don’t know even know what I’m so desperately seeking to fill it yet. Instead, I’m starting to accept that maybe inspiration comes from lack and laziness. That maybe, as humans, we are driven to create not to fight a battle against emptiness, but because of it. I’m starting to believe that inspiration and progress are sparks in the darkness, and without the darkness we could not see the light. I’m working to accept myself for resting and to realize that healing takes time. It’s hard, but it’s getting easier every day. Until then, I’ll take comfort in knowing that there’s always time to stop and smell the roses.

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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.

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