Mental Health with Crohn's or Colitis
Last updated: August 2019
I think that people who do not live with Crohn's or ulcerative colitis do not realize how much deeper IBD affects people. We are not just living with diarrhea and cramping. It's beyond what appears on the surface.
People who are sick, immunocompromised, suffering, etc; all, have to deal with the emotional and mental toll it takes. Being sick takes so much from you and doesn't allow much room for appreciating the lessons that you learn along the way.
The mental impact of being sick
Being sick doesn't just leave you with physical scars.
You may think that you are coping just fine with things; you very well may be too. You may also look in the mirror and not know who you are looking at.
I've had good and bad mental health along the last 30 plus years of my life. Sometimes life can get too hard and the weight and burden can be too much. Sometimes the black cloud can follow me for years.
Pretending to be okay is a lot of pressure
I'm a pretty resilient person. You are too, even if you don't know it. We do what we have to do to survive. Most days that is playing a persona that doesn't really exist. If that is something you do, bear in mind that can also put a lot of pressure on you and add to the load. Balance.
Balance to me looks like this: You can pretend, push through, play stronger than you are but NOT to the detriment to your mental health. That means stop faking it and be completely honest with both yourself and others when it is all too much.
Don't lie or pretend that you aren't suffering mentally or physically when you are. By faking it, you're not allowing yourself to educate others, not allowing yourself to be supported, and you're not seeking help when you may need it the most. Pretending doesn't ever make the issue go away; it only causes further chaos in your mind.
Asking for help from others or professionals
Obviously, there is a lot more to good mental health than balancing a healthy life and laying your perceived weaknesses bare. There is hope, faith and/or help.
Help comes through honesty, as mentioned above. More so it can come from getting help from a professional. I am a huge advocate; and I cannot say it enough, of people seeking counseling when they are suffering, even before they know they are. If you're like me, you're probably thinking; I don't want to go to someone who doesn't know about what it's like to live with IBD or ostomies. That's what I thought but a professional counselor will be able to give you the tools YOU need to walk YOUR journey.
Remember, like IBD, there is not a one size fits all when it comes to counselors. Find the one who fits you and you connect with. If you don't connect with the first one, that's ok. Keep searching for the one you get the most out of.
Faith comes through being honest but believing in something beyond the experience. Keep faith in yourself, your medical team, and your support team to get you through the hard times. If you don't have faith in them, find others that you can.
Hope can come in a billion ways. Hope can keep the faith going. They kind of go hand in hand. Hope isn't a bad thing to have. It's good to have something that keeps you going when things are overwhelming and all-consuming. Hope that a cure is being developed, hope that surgery will give you long-lasting remission, hope that you will see the beauty and love around you.
Not everything in life will be smooth sailing and even less so for those who struggle and suffer.
One quote that keeps me going is this below. I hope you find hope, faith, help, and honesty.
"The Pessimist complains about the wind,
the Optimist expects it to change, and
the Realist adjusts the sails"
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