When You Feel Like You Have No Support

There are certain things in my life that I tend to take for granted--a roof over my head, clean water, and accessibility to healthy food.  In addition to the basics, I also tend to take for granted the amount of support that I have when dealing with my Crohn's.  From my husband to my closest friends, and even clients, there is no shortage of people who understand the pain I have suffered throughout my journey with Crohn's and the potential challenges I can face unexpectedly. 

However, I have been hearing more frequently about people who do not have a support system while living with Crohn's and ulcerative colitis (UC) and it breaks my heart for them to think that they are alone when they absolutely are not.

If you feel like you are going through life with Crohn's or UC alone without anyone who understands, or feel like you are not getting the support you need, below are some ways you can feel comforted and supported while living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

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Ways to find support with IBD

Join a local or virtual IBD support group

Using a quick Google search, you will be able to find some local support groups, both virtual and/or in person that can help connect you with others in your community who walk in similar shoes as you.  This is a safe place to be open about your challenges, and meet others who are experiencing similar experiences. 

Friendships can be made and resources may be shared to help you cope with obstacles that only members of the IBD club can appreciate.  Some groups have guest speakers, and I have spoken to a few groups hosted by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, which could be an excellent resource if you have a local chapter.  I have made some great friendships through my Crohn's and Colitis Foundation chapter, some of which became my best friends.

Diversify your friend groups

It is never too late to make new friends, and adding those into your circle who have a deeper understanding of what it is like to live with Crohn's or UC can make social events more enjoyable.  If you feel like you cannot express your concerns or fears about your illness with your core group of besties, having one or two fellow IBD friends can create opportunities for you to have an outlet where there is no Crohn's or UC topic off limits and you can fully be yourself with those who get it. 

That's not to say that you should abandon your current group of friends altogether, just add a few with whom you can connect on a different level, even if it is solely because you both live with IBD.

Utilize the benefits of social media

Finding support can come in many ways, and it doesn't have to necessarily come from those whom you see on a regular basis.  I have made amazing connections and formed strong bonds with fellow Crohn's patients on Instagram, making it feel like we have been best friends for years, yet we have never met.  When utilized appropriately, social media can be a powerful tool to connect us with others and build our confidence, especially when we see that we aren't the only ones suffering with rough days, medical setbacks, and uncomfortable social situations. 

I have also found that fellow IBD moms have provided valuable insight on managing this disease with young children, something I never witness in my daily life since none of my "mom friends" have Crohn's.  I know there are certain aspects of my life that cannot be understood by those who are closest to me.  Fortunately, I have an amazing support system, but in situations that no one understands, or I don't feel like I have an adequate outlet to vent, it is nice knowing there are individuals around the world who will lend an ear and be more than happy to offer guidance.

Making connections

It's not easy going through life with a chronic illness, and it is even harder when you feel like you are going through it alone.  But, just because those who are closest to you cannot offer the support you need doesn't mean you are helpless.  Reaching out and making connections is what is important to getting through the tough times, you just have to be patient and the right people will show up in your life one way or another.

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