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Hope Begins in the Dark

hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope

that if you just show up

and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.

you wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.

[anne lamott]

During the first several years that I experienced Crohn’s disease symptoms, before getting an accurate diagnosis, I heard the same thing out of mouths of healthcare specialists, family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers. The same short worded phrases, the ones that cut like knives, that make me pull away faster than a tethered rope fraying.

“It’s all in your head”

During the time I was experiencing honestly the worst pain and most debilitating symptoms of my life, each instance of repetition, each doctor to utter the words it’s all in your head made me feel that this was the end, that there truly was an inability to find hope, that my story was never going to change.

Each time I heard those words, I harshly recoiled from everyone and everything. I pulled my knees to my chest while feeling like my heart was down near my toes, and allowed my tears to fall by the wayside. It used to take me days, and sometimes weeks, to pull it back together, to overwrite the feelings of despair, pain, and loss that others tried to instill within me.

But, those words weren’t ever true

Here’s the thing. I now have enough emotional strength to tell you that I know those words weren’t ever true. Trust me, at times, I wish they had been. But they were not. Although at several points in time the doctors didn’t have answers for me, my list of symptoms was extensive and the medical tests I had undergone were sometimes inconclusive, it doesn’t mean that I was crazy. It doesn’t mean that I was making up the pain. The fear. The frustration. It doesn’t mean that I choose this.

It means that science wasn’t always advanced enough to understand my body. Or that I hadn’t yet worked with the right specialist who understood the ways in which all of the pieces fit together, or who knew to run the right test (see my post here on trusting my gut).

It’s complicated

It means that it’s complicated. That there might never be one easy answer. Sometimes, there will just be combinations of trial and error, day in and day out.

But, I want to circle back to those doctors, and that statement “it’s all in your head.” It’s unprofessional, it’s hurtful, and it’s incredibly unkind.

In the several years since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, one of the largest things I’ve become thankful for is the ability to understand that those words weren’t real. That they never deserved the power of cutting me down, of tearing me apart, of making me retreat. Surviving those words, over and over again, it changed me in so many ways. It made me realize that each time I stood back up again, I was a tiny bit stronger in head and heart.

Looking back, that was hope developing there. Looking back, the hardest, most frustrating, darkest days were the ones that eventually gave me much needed encouragement and momentum to push forward.

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
    6 months ago

    Beautifully written. And I agree! Those words are so hurtful but honestly, just totally unprofessional and doctors should know better. Cheers to you and your strength!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    5 months ago

    Thank you so much sweet friend!

    Amanda (team member)

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