Fear of Commitment with IBD.

Fear of Commitment with IBD

When a person suffers from an unpredictable chronic illness like Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis, there can be a tremendous amount of stopping and starting. What I mean by this is, so many of us try to begin something, whether it be school, a job, or some sort of activity, only to have our disease state change and we have to back out.

So many emotional issues

The whole being in and out of life aspect of life as an IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) patient can cause so many emotional issues. It can make someone petrified to begin anything because if something goes wrong, the let down is unbearable.

I was a competitive swimmer before (and a little after) being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Swimming is an endurance sport so whenever I would miss practice and competitions for an extended period of time, I would always feel like I had to start back at square one. After my first time being hospitalized for a number of weeks, losing a ton of blood, and being put on mega doses of prednisone, I went back to my team with an enormous amount of excitement. I was going to work out in the weight room like my coach suggested prior to practices to build up the muscle mass I lost and help improve my stamina. I was going to just get in the pool and work my way back up to where I was, as though nothing happened. I was so psyched to finally get back to the place I was pre-ulcerative colitis and then continue to train and excel in the one activity I had dedicated my entire life to. I was always a driven, motivated person who wasn’t afraid of a challenge. I don’t think I really understood the meaning of something truly challenging until I was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease.

I just did not expect to have to continuously stop and start my training.

Initially, I was revved up like I mentioned previously, but when this kept happening time and time again, it made me feel like I was in a constant state of trying to catch up for reasons outside of my control.

I was going to begin a new high school at the start of my freshman year but because of my diagnosis and the fact that I did not want to start a brand new school while being on 80mg of prednisone and all the lovely side effects that goes with it {insert eye roll} I waited until my sophomore year. This was a small school where pretty much everyone knew each other since kindergarten so coming into the class in 10th grade was nerve wracking for me. I made friends fairly easily and loved the school. I had began Remicade and was feeling as good as possible during that time.

However, things changed and I began my junior year of high school a month late with an ostomy, a picc line and a drain that was inserted into my pelvis through the small of my back that hung down to my ankles. I was on IV antibiotics at home for ten months in order to clear the abscesses and infection that almost killed me.

I was so, so sick and weak during that time. My brother even had to carry my bags for me and I had to use the elevator since the stairs were too much. I did everything I could to go to school as much as possible, attend every class, and do all of the homework that was assigned to me. After a few months, I was down to only two afternoon classes, since an entire day was too much for me. In January of that year, I needed to have another surgery which meant that I could no longer attend school. I was devastated because I actually enjoyed learning and being around my friends. I also was part of my new high school swim team and loved it more than my words could express but of course, that was impacted by my disease too.

But, I had no choice.

I then went back to my new school as a junior once again, with an entirely different group of students to get to know and befriend. It was awkward and made me feel like no matter how hard I worked, everything was out of my control.

The same thing happened in college, only to a worse degree. I would begin semesters and then need surgery and have to wipe the slate clean. I would make friends and become more settled only to have to disappear into my world of illness for a long period of time. Then, I would return behind the eight ball. I even went to summer school to try to make up the time but of course, inflammatory bowel disease doesn’t care about the season or your plans. It was a never ending cycle until I truly got to a point of not caring at all if papers were handed in or assignments were done. I was always a goody-goody in nature so I would do the bare minimum of what needed to be done in order to not get “in trouble” but that was it. I also skipped class (and I am someone who, in 7th grade, asked my mom permission to cut a class because my friends were) when I couldn’t handle it either for physical reasons or it was too triggering to be in the same class I attempted three times already.

I know it is easier to not sign up for things and not have any real aspirations when you live with a devastating chronic illness but I think we all know we can’t live that way. Or, rather, we won’t be happy not being involved in things. It is just tough! It breaks our spirit when we work so hard for things only to be betrayed by our body. It would be great to know that we were in control of our destiny but alas, that is not always the case when you suffer from Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis.

You are not alone.

You are not alone if you've ever taken forever to commit to something because you were afraid of getting sick again. You are not alone if you stopped caring about something you gave your all but never got the results or rewards you deserved and would have achieved if it wasn’t for IBD. So many people understand this struggle and it is a difficult thing to overcome without sustained health.

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